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Employees See Big Potential For Social Business

Appirio study shows disconnect between how companies and individuals use social technologies.

Enterprise Social Networks: Must-Have Features Guide
Enterprise Social Networks: Must-Have Features Guide
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Employees are interested in the potential of social business, but often unclear about what their employer is doing to take advantage of it, according to a survey.

The study sponsored by Appirio, a services firm that helps organizations with their cloud computing initiatives, was conducted by the independent research firm iTracks based on responses from 300 managers and employees from across the U.S. and U.K.

Although the study showed awareness of the potential of social media and social tools, only 57% of respondents said they used social tools in their daily work, whereas about 90% used them in their personal lives. Thirteen percent of respondents would go as far as to label their company "anti-social," meaning it is making no investment in social. Forty-four percent say their company is still just researching or testing social tools or strategies, and 43% are using one or more social tools.

"When we asked, 'do you consider your organization a social enterprise?' about a quarter of the people said yes, 50% said no, and 20% said I don't even know what that means," said Narinder Singh, chief strategy officer at Appirio.

Still, more than 35% of respondents said their companies had set aside budgets or resources to make business processes more social. The top three areas of investment were "establishing social media policies" (47%), "building out a presence on social sites" (37%), and "adding social features to existing internal applications (31%)," according to the report.

Appirio is interested in the results because it believes social initiatives succeed or fail based on how well they are established at all levels of the organization, not just among its leaders, Singh said. "The days of IT rolling out to people something that they don't need are gone," he said.

The study did not define social business for those surveyed or try to make distinctions between internal social collaboration and external social media participation, instead letting respondents make their own interpretation from the context of the questions, Singh said.

[ How is Twitter like MS-DOS? Read Guy Kawasaki: Google+ Is The Mac Of Social Networks.]

Asked what changes an organization would need to make to pursue social business more aggressively, 29% of those surveyed said shifting the company culture. Second on the list was designating a person or team to make it happen (20%), followed by setting aside budget for social technologies (15%).

Social media is still far more prevalent in our personal lives than at work.

The areas where employees saw social technologies most likely to pay off included:

-- Attracting new customers (26%)
-- Engaging and servicing existing customers (25%)
-- Improving collaboration and information sharing (15%)
-- Engaging employees and increasing job satisfaction (12%)
-- Attracting new employees (9%)
-- Improving business operations (7%)

The results with charts and graphs are available in an ebook.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

Social media make the customer more powerful than ever. Here's how to listen and react. Also in the new, all-digital The Customer Really Comes First issue of The BrainYard: The right tools can help smooth over the rough edges in your social business architecture. (Free registration required.)

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Deb Donston-Miller
Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
9/14/2012 | 2:21:09 AM
re: Employees See Big Potential For Social Business
"Appirio is interested in the results because it believes social initiatives succeed or fail based on how well they are established at all levels of the organization, not just among its leaders ..."

It's interesting, because I have heard people say that social should rise from the bottom up in order to be effective, while others have said it has to come from the top down. I wonder if the reality is somewhere in between.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
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