Here are the 10 key "levers" for achieving business value the study lists, which stretch from product development, through operations and distribution, marketing and sales, and customer service, plus a couple seen as having enterprise-wide impact.
-- Derive customer insights (product development as well as marketing and sales).
-- Co-create products (product development).
-- Leverage social to forecast and monitor (operations and distribution).
-- Use social to distribute business processes (operations and distribution).
-- Marketing communication / interaction (marketing and sales).
-- Generate and foster leads (marketing and sales).
-- Social commerce (marketing and sales).
-- Provide customer care (customer service).
-- Improve intra- or inter-organizational communication and collaboration (enterprise-wide leverage).
-- Match talent to tasks (enterprise-wide leverage).
The productivity benefits of enterprise social collaboration stretch across these categories and dominate those McKinsey sees providing enterprise-wide benefits. IT strategists have been chasing the productivity benefits of collaboration technology for many years, but social technology has the opportunity to leapfrog all those efforts, Chui said. "Have previous technologies had some of those [same] capabilities? Yes, they have. But the breadth of deployment and speed of adoption have greatly increased the potential for social technologies to have an impact." Previous efforts using groupware or computer supported collaborative workflow started in enterprise IT, "but now we have a lot of the innovation occurring first in the consumer world where you have hundreds of millions of people adopting technologies within a few years. It's just a completely different scale."
For the promised productivity improvements to materialize requires more than just technology, the report acknowledges. "This assumes that social technologies are used by all interaction workers for all relevant activities and that the time that they save in communicating, finding information, and collaborating is then applied to highly productive uses. In most organizations, achieving these conditions will require substantial changes in organizational structure, processes, practices, and culture," the report states.
Isn't the a little optimistic, to ask for universal adoption--"all interaction workers" and "all relevant activities" and all the time saved translated into productive work?
Maybe, but Chui sees it as something that will play out over time. "Do we think in long term firms will start to capture that value? Yes, we do. Over time, organizations will try to take advantage of it to get ahead of those who don't. We're not making any predictions of how fast that will happen. But we think it will happen, if for no other reason than that competitive dynamics will drive organizations to try to capture that value."
Every company needs a social networking policy, but don't stifle creativity and productivity with too much formality. Also in the debut, all-digital Social Media For Grownups issue of The BrainYard: The proper tools help in setting social networking policy for your company and ensure that you'll be able to follow through. (Free with registration.)