Organizations are facing into dynamic economic and market environments that are forcing them to rapidly learn to adapt and survive in tough times. But through using social technologies many organizations are realizing new ways to become more agile, networked and discovering new ways to innovate. Many large consultancies are now interested in the business opportunities that social technologies present and have produced reports and surveys that justify the investment vs. benefits.
Although these reports and surveys cover many areas there are some key themes:
- Social business produces tangible benefits
- Organizations are often blinded by the technology, range of choices and are left uncertain how to proceed
- Those that align people, processes and technology and develop these together produce better results
Many vendors get organizations wrapped up in the technology but ‘social’ business is just that social. It revolves around the many forms of communication that take place in an organization much of which is informal. Communicating stories and sharing them became a cornerstone of cultural heritage. It is perhaps a highly underestimated part of organizational culture. Storytelling has been at the heart of every culture throughout time, and ours is no different. The need to tell stories is one of the basic characteristics defining humanity. We still tend towards a more mechanistic view of organizations, yet the heart beat of success rests within the capability to define a purpose that captures the passions of its employees.
So to underpin any strategy purely on technology is risky. Social sharing of information unleashes workplace learning, helps unify understanding and reduces duplication within communications. The question now isn’t should we be a social business it is now how do we become a social business. In the hands of a strategically focused organization, social technologies become social business tools and processes, enabling collaboration among employees, partners, and customers.
Transitioning to a more collaborative and open culture requires placing workplace learning at the heart of the process. The following reports from many highly regarded sources illustrate these points and provide a formidable collection of knowledge that substantiates the case for social business.
These reports also highlight some of the areas where organizations are struggling. Organizations new to, or yet to develop, their social business strategy, can at least prepare their social business strategy armed with the lessons from others.
McKinsey recently released their 5th annual survey on social business. The survey gathered responses from 3,249 executives across a range of regions and industry sectors. Here is a brief summary of their findings:
- 50% of the firms represented now have an official presence on the networks , up from 40% in 2010
- 74% of contributors agreed it was quicker to access knowledge
- 58% cited lower communications costs
- 69% of the sample pointed to greater marketing effectiveness
- 12% are enjoying meaningful improvements on client-based metrics
- 3% of operators were considered to be”fully networked”
Another worthwhile read from McKinsey – The rise of the networked enterprise: Web 2.0 finds its payday
Altimeter - Social Business Readiness
As with many other oganizational models Altimeter places the emphasis on planning underpinning and integrating people, process and technology. The organizations highlighted in the report have been practicing and building their social business capabilities over a number of years. The report demonstrates how some organizations are being forced ijnto being social through a crisis, whilst the smarter organizations are being proactive and building out their social business capapbilities.
Key Points: Advanced social business companies prepared by taking four initial steps:
- Established and reinforced a corporate social media policy;
- Defined processes for rapid workflow and engagement with customers in social media;
- Fostered a culture of learning through ongoing social media education; and
- Organized in a scalable formation, with a cross-functional ‘center of excellence.
Forrester Wave Report - Q3 Wave Report for Enterprise Social Platforms
Forrester’s Wave report focuses specifically on enterprise social platforms, as well as analysing why organisations are using these platforms. This is a paid report but you can download part of it at Telligent. The report focuses on the main players at the exclusion of some developing vendors, notably Salesforce.com, Oracle, Moxie Software, Igloo, Atlassian, Microsoft, OpenText, Cisco and SocialTe.
Booz & Company’s study shows that spending more on R&D won’t drive results. The report highlights that the most crucial factors are strategic alignment and a culture that supports innovation. Corporate culture is the embeeded in the patterns of behaviour, feeling, thinking, and believing in the company, it’s purpose and values. But acording to the study, only half of the companies say their corporate culture supports their innovation strategy.
This is a paid for report but in brief it details the following: companies can increase their productivity if they integrate social media into their processes and infrastructures. employees are combining important expertise in collaboration with colleagues, partners, suppliers, and customers, as well as sharing risks and costs, and improving capacity utilization and customer service. I have embedded a Gartner presentation below as a follow up to this report.
HRX Analysts – The 2012 Index of Social Technology in HR and Recruiting
The report covers initial attempts in leveraging social media in the sourcing and recruiting industry. The report focuses on the different ways that vendors have been trying to add-in social elements. The line between employee and customer is blurring, as brand cultures are intertwined with open cultures and communications. Inevitably HR is responsible for helping shape culture through recruitment practices and policies and yet it seems to be removed from the spotlight of social business.
CapGemini - Log into the Digital Economy
Capgemini Consulting highlights that the digital economy is entering a new age. In addition to its early impact on customer experience and channels, digital technologies now have a pervasive influence on all areas of the corporation. Here is a short video from CapGemini that summaries the key aspects of the report.
The Cisco Connected World Technology Report is an international study that examines the next generation of workers’ demands and behavior involving network access, mobile device freedom, social media, and work lifestyles. Here is a video highlighting the findings:
Delloite – Social Software for Business Performance
The report states that social software has the potential to address operational ‘pain points’ and significantly enhance business performance in the short-term and transform it in the long-term.
Deloitte outlines five capabilities of enterprise social networks that help to improve business performance and improve exception handling. See a video here highlighting some aspects of the report and the key points are listed below:
- Identify Expertise - this helps problem solving and learning as people can easily connect on topics of mutual interest.
- ‘Cross boundary’ communication & conversation - this is facilitates knowledge flows across the organisation as conversations go beyond silos and hierarchies.
- Preserve institutional memory - knowledge and context are maintained, improving the usefulness of information.
- Harness distributed knowledge – this highlights how intelligence is pooled to address problems and drive innovation and the creation of new knowledge.
- Discover emerging opportunities - opportunities for innovation and insight are identified and are not missed due to communication gaps
This slideshare presentation pulls together some of the findings from the report and other reports demonstrating the power of convergence.
Headline for this report is that companies are realizing measurable benefits from the adoption of social business technologies in the areas of marketing , sales, innovation and information through Q&A’s.
- Connecting social content, people and processes
- Encouraging open collaboration inside and outside of the enterprise
- Empowering employees with flexible environments for collaborative document
Net JMC – Digital Workplace Trends 2012
Key points from the report:
- Of the 456 organizations surveyed half intend to increase investment in social initiatives this year.
- Key benefits realised to date include knowledge-sharing; and engaged & better informed employees.
- Interesting is the lack of focus on mobile strategy for the workforce!
Aspen Institute - The Future of Work
This report examines the role of employee, organization and questions the ability of large companies to change to a more employee centred model. Technological convergence is leading to a reshaping of the workplace and the expectations of people – rapid and mobile communications, globalization, and collaborative technologies are bringing about individual creativity and choice.
Infocentric Research - The Digital Workplace: Redefining Productivity in the Information Age
The report demonstrates the struggle that organizations are having in migrating to the digital age. Why is this important? – it is impacting a range of areas and obviously business performance. The solution proposed is a series of building blocks and frameowrks which work as conceptual models to build a more dynamic and digital enterprise. Culture and relations playing a pivotal role.
OVUM/Butler Group - Enterprise Collaboration 2011/2012
This report focuses on technological convergence which provides opportunities to lower costs and realise greater flexibility. Social business technologies that can need to harness social, mobile, and cloud computing to transform businesses. Companies in implementing these tools can recognise improvements in innovation, agility, mobility, and improved communications.