MIT’s Sloan Management Review paired up with Deloitte to do a research project around social business earlier this year. They got nearly 3,500 responses to their survey from managers in companies in 115 countries and 24 industries, so it’s a nice, broad study. A “social business,” according to this particular study, is one that is integrating social software into its operations. They seem to be drawing at least some conclusions that are similar to the much smaller survey that Maddie and I did this fall, namely that we’re in a transition zone, where we’re moving beyond just scattered experimentation with social software and towards a more formal integration with business processes. But it seems we still have a ways to go.
- About half say social software matters now, but 86% say it’s going to matter in three years.
- Metrics are way behind (the most common answer to “how do you measure social software use?” was “Do not measure.” Yikes!).
- Only 15% of CIOs and 14% of CFOs think social business is important to their organizations now (but the percentage is much higher when looking at 3 years from now).
What I really like about the study is the conclusion it draws about how social business matters to organizations BEYOND the marketing function.
These four areas–marketing, innovation, operations and leadership–are where social business is creating significant opportunity and, for some companies, significant value. Using social tools for marketing is not the be-all or end-all of social business: it is a component of the overall value that social business can deliver.
The study talks about involving consumers in product innovations (Humanize, pp. 138-140 and 200-03), using collaborative tools to enable faster solutions to operational problems (Humanize, pp. 214-15), and using online community software to generate strategic insight (Humanize, pp. 203-206).
So just to be clear: if this global group of managers is nearly unanimous that this stuff is going to be important in three years, then I highly recommend you start working on these issues today.