Social Initiatives In Business

According to a new study by IBM, middle management leaders are struggling to embrace social initiatives as part of their day-to-day work. The survey of 1,160 business and IT professionals shows that while 46% of the organizations increased their investments in social technologies in 2012, only 22% believed that managers are prepared to incorporate social tools and approaches into their daily practices.

Two-thirds of respondents were not sure they sufficiently understood the impact that social technologies would have on their organizations over the next three years, says the report. But, roughly half the world’s population is online, says the report, and almost all of these Internet users are mobile. Their use of social media tools to shop, spend, and share insights is increasing.  It is no longer simply a “sandbox” for the under-30 generation.

The study finds that companies at the forefront of Social Business are doing more than developing a presence on major social platforms. A social business policy embeds social technologies into core business processes, and then applies the technologies to drive customer-facing activities such as lead generation, sales and post-sales service. 

Uses of Social Business (Companies Using; % of Respondents)


% Today

% Next Two Years

Promote events/marketing campaigns



Generate sales leads and revenue



Provide product and services support



Sell products directly to customers



Source: Institute for Business Value/IBM, November 2012

Today, companies are taking their external social tools and embedding them into core business processes and capabilities. They are using social approaches not only to communicate better with their customers, but also to share knowledge with their suppliers, business partners and, perhaps most important, their employees. In short, they are rapidly progressing to a larger, more substantive transformation in how they work called social business.

A critical trend, identified in the study, is the application over the next two years of social approaches beyond organizational boundaries. They are looking to improve coordination with customers, vendors and partners, as well as leverage external talent, such as crowd sourcing Despite the fact that some companies are primarily focused on making sure that they got “collaboration right internally,” going beyond organizational boundaries will be an essential next step in the evolution of social business.

Uses of Social Business (Companies Using; % of Respondents)



Next 2 Years

Enable customer interaction



Enable vendor/partner interaction



Leverage external talent



Source: Institute for Business Value/IBM, November 2012

Incorporating social capabilities into the innovation process is another highly important factor, says the report. Companies report that social tools are making it easier to acquire new ideas from almost anyone who touches their organization.  And, they are also using social approaches to execute more structured innovation efforts that require senior management commitment to dedicate resources and follow up on insights gained from those events.

Use of Social Business for Innovation (% of Social Business User Respondents)

Use for Innovation


Next 2 Years

More effective internal collaboration



Monitor customer comments for new ideas



Obtain customer feedback



Enable customers to submit plans/solutions



More effective collaboration between partners/suppliers



Source: Institute for Business Value/IBM, November 2012

The report concludes by noting three essential actions to be taken across the enterprise, from the CEO’s office to the farthest corner of the organization:

  • Develop social methods and tools to create consistent and valued customer experiences
  • Embed social capabilities to drive workforce productivity and effectiveness.
  • Use social approaches to accelerate innovation.

For additional information, and to access the “The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It’s Done,” please visit IBM here.


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