Social business is just getting started. But its value is clearly emerging for innovation, operations, leadership and marketing. So what are companies really doing?
In 2012 MIT Sloane Management conducted a survey to really investigate that question. Below you will find my highlights and takeaways from this study.
Even though social technologies have been around for some years now. The sentiment from the report is that many companies are still holding back on the adoption of social tools. Of those surveyed, 52% said that it was important or somewhat important to them today. Whilst 86% believe that it will be important or somewhat important in three years.
Social business is primarily viewed as a tool for external facing activities with marketing departments, sales and customer services being the main driving force with customer relationship management being at the forefront.
The second important use of social software was to drive innovation and competitive differentiation. So whilst the majority see the importance over the coming years most are viewing social tools as external activity, with a smaller group understanding its potential for internal innovation and collaboration.
The report highlights the biggest barrier is leadership vision. However it is noted that CEOs are twice as likely to drive strategic adoption of social tools than the CIO and CFO.
Lack of understanding on how to measure the effectiveness of social tools is also cited as an inhibitor of adoption with many not measuring at all. Social business depends on leadership, metrics may not be critical when experimenting with social software, but as it becomes more important to organisations, having metrics in place can help managers assess, encourage and reward related behaviours. Helping shift their cultures to be more compatible with social business. CEOs recognise that leadership can be improved with social business, may be more than other members of the C-Suite.
Gartner estimates that the failure rate for social business projects is 70%. That is astonishingly high. Factors that could be responsible include:
– Not using the software deployed to solve a true business problem
– Integration into daily work flow
– Lack of senior management support
– Thinking email is a collaborative tool
– The use of “Social” with the word “Business” vs “Social Media”
– Not realising we are Human. (The three basic psychological factors : The need to connect, feel competent and the need to be autonomous in one’s actions)
The report asked “Why do you use social business at work?” The top three answers being : To network, effectiveness and to voice opinions.
Motivations to participate in social business activities are thus far from superficial and even go beyond just our social nature. They can help fulfil basic psychological needs.
The report also noted that larger organisations and smaller organisations appreciate the value of social business more than that of mid size organisations. With the smaller companies saying they could increase their voice and connect with customers to really make themselves seem bigger than they really are.
A clear vision of how social media supports the business strategy was top facilitator in the report. So the first step in your social business journey is to create and communicate the broader social strategy for your organisation. What business challenges are to be solved with social business activities? What is the Strategy to make this happen? What technology best supports these objectives? What kinds of social networks will support this strategy? Most important is to realise that your social business journey will take time, require and drive changes to your business processes. Defining organisational structure an how you interact with customers and employees.
Take the time to access where you are today, identify problems that are currently being addressed with social tools. Consider if the correct resources are being directed towards the right problems. If you are heavily regulated make sure you have governance process in place to address these. Identify the people or roles that will focus on social business and how these individuals will coordinate with each other. Use listening tools to collect information about your brand, customer service and competition. This area hols tremendous potential for organisations.
Ensuring that your business has enough resources is fundamental. Have you chosen to assign the tasks to an individual or will it be on top of someone’s day job. Will you have incentives in place, targeting and rewarding the correct people. Have you resources in place for communication, content creation, community management and training.
Whilst the report makes it clear that many companies are not measuring and whilst in experimentation mode this may not be so important. Measurement will however need to be conducted especially when redefining practices and processes, measuring adoption thought will be misleading so not advised. For people, often what matters most is whether the tools helps them to do their jobs more effectively.
Given that social business is just getting started you may be tempted to wait. But that approach may delay achieving its potential in your organisation, to the detriment of your innovation, leadership, operations and marketing.
Guest Post Jennifer Dubow
After spending a week at SXSWI for the first time, I met a lot of folks in a range of roles and companies including:
- Large enterprises responsible for transforming their business practices and workforce to adopt social business.
- Digital agencies and social business consulting firms trying to get their clients to adopt social media programs and new mindsets
- Social Media software vendors trying to train their clients to more fully adopt the software the client has purchased
- Startups seeking to scale their businesses and sell their software or services
To me, one resounding theme, especially with the onset of Spring, is that Change is in the air.
Organizations and their employees may or may not want to become a social business, but the impetus for change, whether externally or internally driven, is getting stronger. In my years in organizational change management consulting, I often heard the phrase “People (or Organizations) change when the pain of staying the same is worse than the pain of change.” Another common question asked is “What’s the burning platform?” that will make executives take action.
Change is a Choice. It’s that simple. Going through with the change, whether in your personal life, or in your organization, is tough. It may not always feel like a Choice, especially when the change is driven from an external source, such as a new CEO who has a new set of directives and style.
As we’ve seen in my last post about the Change Curve, people follow a predictable process on the change journey, and each step along that journey requires a Choice to continue moving forward. Deciding to be part of the Change is also a Choice: there are benefits and consequences to either participating in the change or resisting the change.
Once you or your leadership have decided, “Ouch, this burning platform is about to explode, I better make some changes,” then you need to have the Conviction to see it through to success. Having that Conviction, or that belief that change is possible is very powerful. In practical terms, your belief in the possibility of change may take the form of a vision of change or a roadmap of transformation (“as is” vs. “to be” state), a project plan, or a motivating speech to call the staff to action.
Another complementary technique to consider is solution-focused guided imagery, an approach long used by Sports Psychologists and Athletic Trainers to help athletes win in competitive situations or overcome barriers to success known as “the yips.” You can encourage your staff to imagine what a successful change would look like, or practice this yourself. Either way, having a positive focus and belief that your organization can successfully change will go a long way.
Whether you are embarking on a personal change such as trying to lose weight, or a Social Business adoption program such as retraining your workforce on social business skills, or rolling out a new internal collaboration system, transformative Change is actually composed of many small steps that require Commitment.
This is the place, in my opinion, where Change frequently breaks down. Change often takes time, especially large organizational transformations such as incorporating social business practices into core business processes. People can experience “change fatigue” along the way, executives may get frustrated that adoption or performance results aren’t where they should be, and the list goes on, etc.
It’s at this point, where we need to show Compassion towards ourselves and ideally, executives can take this opportunity to show Compassion towards their staff. Showing Compassion doesn’t mean excusing poor results or throwing in the towel. What it does mean is acknowledging that Change can be difficult for some, validating the challenging nature of change, and reaffirming that each step of the way requires Commitment, and re-Commitment on the part of the entire team of staff and executives.
We can think of the change journey as a series of Choices and small steps requiring micro-Commitments. When things don’t go according to plan, have some Compassion for yourself or your teammates. And recall that Conviction and belief in the possibility to Change that got you started on the change journey in the first place. That’s the real Magic in the C’s of Change.
As always, I welcome your thoughts, reactions, and any additional C’s you may think.
Follow me on Twitter @jennifer_dubow.
Image: StockFresh Change
Companies are realising that social technologies are changing the way clients interact. As a result they no MUST incorporate these to enhance and exploit opportunities. There are both opportunities to improve internal process’s and also to explore new markets.
Seventy two percent of respondents are deploying at least one technology and more than 40 percent are now incorporating blogs and networking tools.
86 percent of companies are in high tech and telecommunications.
Executives at internally networked organisations note the highest improvement in benefits from interactions from employees; those at externally networked organisations from interactions with customer, partners and suppliers.
Another key performance measure, self reported operating-margin improvements, correlated positively with the reported percentage of employees whose use of social technologies was integrated into their day-to-day work.
Senior executives should think strategically about how social technologies can support business processes. Integrating social technologies into the workflow and using them to optimise internal processes will provide additional competitive benefits
- Don’t rest on your laurels: competition will increase as the adoption of social tools and
technologies continues to rise and as progressive companies use them to improve their
processes. Indeed, many companies we categorized as networked organizations last year
slipped to a lower rung this year as the benefits their executives reported fell. Integrating
Web technologies into the daily workflow, our results suggest, is the most effective way
to maintain competitive position or become more networked.
- Companies should prepare for more substantial disruptions. Since many executives believe that significant changes will occur as (or if) constraints on social tools and technologies are lifted, companies that can create change themselves—instead of reacting to it—are likely to benefit the most.