According to a new study from MIT/Sloan and Deloitte, the 2012 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project, social business matters. 52% of the survey believe that social business is important or somewhat important to their business today. Fully 86% of managers believe social business will be important or somewhat important in three years.
Importance of Social Software (% of Respondents)
In one year
In three years
Source: SloanReview/MIT, June 2012
Almost all of the business leaders interviewed describe their social business efforts in terms of “infancy” or “just beginning” or “early days,” says the report in its introduction. Those with sophisticated social networks, including IBM and SAP, stressed that these have taken years to develop.
The importance of social business to organizations is expected to grow over the next few years. While just 18% of all survey respondents believe social business is important to their organization today, 63% say it will be important in three years. That’s a jump of 250%.
Although most managers continue to view social software as an externally facing activity, its relevance to innovation is also being recognized:
Most respondents to the survey believe that successful social business activities require leadership but acknowledge that their organizations are not measuring social software use. But as social software use becomes more important to an organization, having metrics in place can help managers assess, encourage and reward related behaviors.
Small companies are demonstrating that they can appear larger than their actual size with social tools. Large companies can appear less like corporate behemoths. Midsize companies see the advantages of social tools but, in general, do not see themselves exploiting these advantages for another few years. Respondents from small and large companies say social business is important to their organization at twice the rate of managers from midsize companies.
Some industries are seeing more value from social tools than other industries. Energy and utilities, manufacturing and the financial services sectors expect that social business will become five to six times more important to their organizations in three years. Social business is thriving in at least two industry sectors, according to the study: entertainment, media and publishing (Media) and IT and technology (Tech):
The Importance of Social Software by Industry (% of Respondents)
Currently Considered Most Important
Entertainment, Media & Publishing
IT and technology
Energy & utilities
Source: SloanReview/MIT, June 2012
Managers who are least likely to say social software is important say that social software will become much more important in three years:
The report opines that given that social business is still just getting started, one may be tempted to wait until the technology matures or there is more evidence to support its business value. However, says the report, that approach may delay achieving its potential in the organization, to the detriment of marketing, innovation, leadership and operations.
MIT professor, Alex “Sandy” Pentland, concludes that “... like any emerging technology trend, social business can seem perpetually just out of reach... not quite ready for prime time... if that’s your (position)... you may be overestimating the amount of effort it takes to start putting this trend to work... today.”