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Microsoft: We're Investing In Enterprise Social

Armed with survey results and a belief that the 'turmoil' of the social software market is over, Microsoft says it's time to round out SharePoint and other products as an enterprise social platform.
Concerns: Security (90%) is the top IT concern for a vast majority of decision makers when implementing a social network in an organization. After security, they are most concerned with integrating the network with existing systems (66%), compliance (53%), governance (44%), their ability to build custom applications for social networking (27%), and other (1%). (Responses were limited to the top three concerns.)

Critical success factors: Sixty-six percent of decision makers cite collaboration--more people are talking to each other and getting work done--as a critical success factor for their social networking solution. After collaboration, it is important to have productivity (they can measure actual efficiency gains) at 64%, adoption (people in the organization actually use it) and value added to business processes (both at 51%), cost savings (42%), and other (1%).

Reasons to implement: Increased information sharing in the organization (71%) is the top factor decision makers cited as making them decide to implement a social networking solution. Other reasons are to drive greater collaboration and productivity in the organization (64%), improve business process efficiencies (56%), satisfy employees who asked for it (36%), create greater transparency between the company business and employees (26%), and other (6%).

Top benefits: Seventy-two percent of decision makers report that social networking has provided or they expect it to provide their organization with greater employee collaboration. Other expected benefits are greater employee productivity (45%), creating a stronger affinity between the business and employees (42%), providing new information about the ways in which people in their organization work (41%), ease of use so people use it (38%), connecting a disparate workforce (34%), and other (3%).

Importance of a pilot program: Just over half (51%) of decision makers believe that it is absolutely essential or extremely important for a company to start a social networking deployment with a pilot program, while 49% consider it somewhat or not important.

Types of communications: Sixty-seven percent of decision makers cite instant messaging as a kind of communication that enterprise social networking should enable. Other types of communications were email (64%), videoconferencing (62%), the ability to "follow" people, documents or sites (51%), audio conferencing (47%), activity streams (34%), video sharing (33%), the ability to "like" content or people (28%), microblogging (26%), and other (2%).

Deployment phase: When asked what phase of deployment of an enterprise social network their organization is in, 48% of decision makers said they are at an initial roll out or pilot phase with a limited number of users. Thirty percent say they have deployed social software broadly across the organization, and 12% have deployed broadly and are now building additional capabilities on top of the social software or are building the social software into business processes. Ten percent report they are at another stage.

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

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