In contrast to large organizations, which have to involve a variety of stakeholders and generate broad buy-in, SMBs don't have the time or the money for lengthy project pilots. Nor do they have the luxury of philosophical platform commitments.
"SMBs are really focused on how these tools help them solve specific problems," said Yeh. "I think this is what it comes down to: whatever works."
Such focus can be said to be a function of necessity: "In larger enterprises, you may have two or three competing products," said Kaykas-Wolff. "In SMBs, you have one."
But one such product may be all that's necessary for the social imperative to take hold. Housel, whose company first explored social tools through the free, open-source MediaWiki software and subsequently switched to Socialtext, said his organization got started on its social networking journey because of a specific need, to collaborate with another company. While Industrial Mold & Machine didn't end up using the software with its customer, it found success with it internally.
Free may be the way in at budget constrained SMBs. SMBs often have "literally zero budget" for social software, observed Garcia. Not only that but they often don't see value in improved productivity, a traditional selling point for social software.
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