Friday, December 28, 2012

The most interesting studies on Social Business from 2012


Looking back at 2012, there have been quite a few interesting studies directly or indirectly related to Social Business. I have selected the studies that I have found most interesting, highlighting some of the key findings from each study. Taken together, I believe they provide a pretty good picture of the current state of Social Business. Enjoy!

The Digital Advantage
by Capgemini Consulting and the MIT Center for Digital Business

During three years Capgemini Consulting and the MIT Center for Digital Business have studied how digitally mature companies (see report for definition) perform in comparison to those who are less to embrace new digital innovations. Key findings include:
  • Digitally mature companies generate more revenue and are up to 26% more profitable than their industry competitors. This is also reflected in a higher market value.
  • No industry is immune from digital transformation, and every company in every industry has some competitors that can be considered ad digitally mature


The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies
by McKinsey Global Institute

Besides highlighting the potential in using social technologies to reach consumers in new ways, this research by McKinsey Global Institute reveals there is twice as much potential value in “using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises”. Key findings include:
  • Using social technologies to enhance internal communication and collaboration could increase the productivity of knowledge workers with as much as 25%.
  • The annual value that could be unlocked by social technologies in four sectors lies somewhere between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion.

The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It′s Done
by The IBM Institute for Business Value 

The IBM Insitutite for Business Value surveyed more than 1,100 executives worldwide and conducted in-depth interviews with 26 companies that are recognized as leaders in social business. Key findings include:
  • 46% increased their investments in social business in 2012 and 62% intend to increase their investments during the next two years
  • 67% of the companies are applying social business within their marketing and 54% within public relations function
  • Customer service and sales are two areas where social business adoption is expected to grow most rapidly

Engagement @ Scale in The Large Enterprise
by Social Business Council / Dachis Group

The Social Business Council asked the question ”How far along are the leading early adopters” in terms of introducing social collaboration software and embracing new ways of communicating and collaborating. The study that surveyed only very large enterprises with more than one billion USD in annual revenue. Key findings include:
  • 57% of the companies reported that only 10-20% of their eligible workforce is active on their social collaboration platform.
  • Only 4% of the companies had already integrated external and internal social business initiatives. 
  • 51% lacked both existing integration and plans for such integration.

2012 State of the Social Intranet Study
by Prescient Digital Media

In late November, Toby Ward from Prescient Digital Media published some preliminary findings of their 2012 State of the Social Intranet Study, revealing that ”executives are not happy with their enterprise social media (intranet 2.0):
  • 37% of executives rate their social intranets as poor or very poor while 17% rate their social intranets as good or very good 
  • 39% of employees rate their social intranets as poor or very poor while 21% rate their social intranets as good or very good 

What Do Corporate Directors and Senior Managers Know about Social Media?
by Stanford University’s Rock Center for Corporate Governance

This study surveyed more than 180 senior executives and corporate directors of North American public and private companies, revealing “a disconnect between companies’ understanding of social media and the actions they are taking to apply it to their business”. The study found that although companies understand that social media can be used to improve many aspects of their business, they also realize there are risks associated with it – so they typically prefer to maintain status quo (do nothing).

The State of Enterprise Social Software Adoption in 2012 (Paid)
by International Data Corporation (IDC)

IDC found that the focus of social business is shifting, as well as the use cases. Key findings include:
  • Use cases have grown into customer experience, sales enablement, digital commerce, enterprise social network (ESN), innovation management, and socialytics.
  • In 2012, 67% of companies surveyed have deployed corporate-sponsored enterprise social software
  • The level of autonomy an employee has on how they manage individual task and business workflow has increased.

The Economics of A Fully Engaged Enterprise
by PulsePoint Group in collaboration with The Economist Intelligence Unit 

This study provides evidence that there lies real economic value in social engagement:
  • 32% of senior executives report that an unclear strategy for change is a roadblock for social business adoption.
  • Companies that fully embrace social engagement are experiencing four times greater business impact than less engaged companies
  • The average return on social engagement was calculated to be between 3-5%. The most engaged businesses are reporting a calculated 7.7% business impact.
  • The lowest performers achieved a 1.9% estimated return.Two thirds of the organizations achieving the highest returns reported that their C-suites are active advocates of social engagement.


The 2012 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project
by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte 

3,478 managers from companies in 115 countries and 24 industries were surveyed as MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte tried to answer the following questions: Will social networking and social software have a similarly transformative effect on business? Are they already doing so? What kinds of enterprises are benefiting the most? And how are they benefiting? Here are some of their key findings:

  • 52% of the respondents believe that social business is important or somewhat important to their business today. 
  • 86% of believe social business will be important or somewhat important in three years. 
  • Social business is viewed most often as a tool for external-facing activities.
  • Some leaders are enthusiastic, but lack metrics to prove value.


Social Media Around the World 2012
by InSites Consulting

Rounding up this collection of studies is one that provides lots of facts and figures and some interesting insights on the status of social media in 19 countries, such as the following:
  • The large majority of consumers would like to help brands and companies they like. 
  • About 80% of all internet users are open to being involved in any form of collaboration with a brand. 
  • Half of the consumers would even like to be involved in developing the overall strategy of the brand. 
  • 45% are willing to help in creating the next advertising campaign.


Tuesday, December 18, 2012

A simple framework for Enterprise Collaboration


“The introduction of smarter ways of working together across the extended enterprise enabled by a new breed of innovative concepts and technologies.”
This is the definition of Enterprise Collaboration that I currently use when explaining it to other people, and here are three reasons why I find it useful:
  • If puts focus on ways of working together, and that we need to find better ways of working that make better use our individual and collective time and capacity. To do this we need to reflect more on why and how we use certains tool (a fool with a tool is still a fool).
  • It not only stresses that new technologies are core enablers, but also new concepts such as crowdsourcing, collective intelligence, social networking, and cloud computing
  • ‘Across the extended enterprise’ means that the scope is not limited to teams or organizations. A collaborative effort can potentially involve any stakeholder – even customers and consumers – as well as any number of stakeholders.
Let’s put this in contrast to the more traditional view of technology-enabled collaboration (virtual collaboration).

Traditional collaboration technologies (a.k.a. groupware) and ways of working focused on team collaboration, e.g. people working together on a common task or goal. The choice of this focus wasn’t as much due to what was possible from a technological point of view, as it was due to the fact that the need for enterprise-wide collaboration wasn’t apparent and imminent at the time when these technologies were introduced. Business process management addressed the needs for cross-enterprise coordination and communication that existed at that time. R&D, Production, Sales, Marketing and other business functions focused on optimizing the performance of their own activities and the business strategies that were crafted by top management didn’t just set the overall plan but pretty much detailed what each business function should be doing.

In a highly dynamic, fast-paced and inter-connected business environment, this way of running a business is no longer possible. Tomorrow's organizations will have to be more as a flock of birds, or shoal of anchovies, than can take new shapes when required. Instead of relying on long-term planning, we have to be prepared for the unexpected. Coordination must happen sideways, in all directions, all the time. Decisions must be made wherever and whenever they need to be made, by people who understand the environment where it is to be executed, while at the same time keeping the shared purpose and big picture in mind. This cannot be done if we continue to work with our own tasks in business function silos and blindly follow detailed strategies crafted by top management, dictating the execution without adjusting it to the (changing) environments where the execution is to take place.

I see Enterprise Collaboration as an umbrella term for more or less all concepts and technologies that enable smarter ways of working together. One of the concepts that fit under this umbrella is Social Collaboration. It is a concept that has been adopted by many software vendors in the collaboration technology space lately, IBM, Oracle, OpenText, and NewsGator to mention a few.

Social Collaboration is different from traditional collaboration in the sense that it stretches and scales far beyond teams. It connects people throughout the extended enterprise to allow them to collaborate on any purpose, big or small.  It allows for instant and immediate many-to-many interaction, conversations, sharing and co-creation involving anyone from anywhere within the enterprise. As social collaboration builds upon principles such as openness, participation, and recognition, it helps create the workplace awareness that is required to make decisions locally and still seeing the bigger picture.

The driving force behind social collaboration is the need to remove structural holes in the communication between people, and it does so by helping people to discover each other, connect and build relationships far beyond their teams and business functions. By being able t build new ties and and strengthens the weak ties between groups, the likelihood of group thinking and the sub-optimization that happens when groups optimize for their own goals without seeing the bigger picture decreases. In other words, the negative effects of team collaboration are balanced up.

Although technology is a core enabler for Enterprise Collaboration, there is much more to it. It is often said that three key elements are necessary to build a successful enterprise: People, Business, and Technology. The trick is to achieve the right mixture and balance of these three elements. Some of the most important aspects to address for each element are illustrated below:


The picture above can be seen as a simple, high-level framework for Enterprise Collaboration efforts. People are the engine of any enterprise, and such things as purpose, culture (values, attitudes, behaviors), incentives, skills, and engagement determine how well the engine runs. Business sets the direction, defines what needs to get done, by whom, when and why, and evaluates how we are performing. Technology is the core enabler, providing us with an environment and tools to achieve things together without being delimited by geographies and other barriers to communication and coordination.

What do you think?

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

There's so much waste - can you see it?

As information work has become digitized, the work that many of us do on a daily basis has become less visible. Chances are it will never be seen, or recognized. What is more, the time, effort, and talent that is wasted on doing the wrong things won’t be seen either. Neither value-adding nor non value-adding work is visible.


McKinsey Global Institute estimated the potential for improving knowledge work with social technologies to 20-25%. So, there seems to be a huge – and overlooked – potential in improving knowledge work. The thing is; if we don’t see it, we can’t improve it. If just make digital work visible in our digital workplace, measuring it will be (well, sort of) a piece of cake. This means that a mayor challenge to improve information work is to make our work more visible, for example:
  • Making it as easy to sharing what we do with as little effort as possible 
  • Capturing information about our activities and interactions with information resources and other people 
  • Creating a transparent digital work environment where we can see what is going on, who is doing what, when, where
Although technology is important, it really comes down to improving our work practices if we are to unlock any of the potential that lies in improving knowledge work. It’s not just about ensuring that we get the expected return on our investments in collaboration and communication technology. The real question is how the technology can make us work smarter, doing more with less, faster.

Instead of putting our hopes to technology to improve productivity, introducing one tool or application after the other, we should really strive for simplification, and discuss how we can work smarter. It is equally important to reflect on what we shouldn’t do, what tools and features we shouldn’t have, as it is to reflect on what we should do, and what tools and features we need to get the work done.