New Research Shows Social Tools and Processes Making Progress in Business, but still early days

 

Appirio Survey Showcases High User Demand for Social Investment, But That Company Culture and Ownership Remain Barriers to Adoption

London, UK – September 26th, 2012 – Appirio today announced the results of its first international survey on “The State of Social @ Work,” highlighting users’ demand for increased investment in social tools and processes but also how far companies still have to go before social makes a broader and more significant impact on the business. The survey of more than 300 managers and employees from across the U.S. and U.K. was conducted by independent research firm, iTracks, on behalf of Appirio, a technology-enabled services firm that helps companies power their business with the cloud.  Respondents covered a wide range of roles, industries and company size, and were not limited to social or executive decision makers, to better understand how social people are on the job. “As business and technical advisors, we know social tools and processes can have a significant impact on a company’s brand, relationships and bottom line,” said Narinder Singh, Chief Strategy Officer at Appirio. “But to be truly successful with social, companies must listen to the actual users of those tools and processes rather than force something from the top down. Whether it’s politics or technology, we all too often forget to consider the people’s perspective and fail because our strategies are based on false assumptions.”

Users Say Companies Are Still in the Early Stage of Social Adoption

There’s no question that people are becoming increasingly social in their personal lives. A 2011 study from Pew Internet Research indicates that 65 per cent of online adults are active users of social networking sites – a statistic reinforced in Appirio’s own survey results.  In Appirio’s survey, that number jumps to nearly 90 per cent when you add in other social tools like video, photo sharing and microblogging sites. However, people are not as experienced when it comes to social use at work – only 57 per cent of respondents use social tools to do their job. Companies today are even less far along when it comes to social adoption. Thirteen per cent of respondents would go as far as to label their company “anti-social,” saying there is no investment in social at all. Forty-four per cent say their company is still just researching or testing social tools or strategies, and 43 per cent are using one or more social tools. While social adoption in the enterprise might be in the early stages, users say investment is happening. More than 35 per cent of respondents said their companies had set aside budgets or resources to make business processes more social. The top three areas of investment were “establishing social media policies” (47 per cent), “building out a presence on social sites” (37 per cent) and “adding social features to existing internal applications (31 per cent).”

Demand For Social Investment Is High, Based on Real and Perceived Benefits According to users, their companies’ current investments in social tools and processes isn’t enough.  More than 40 per cent of respondents say their company should invest more time and resources in becoming a social enterprise compared to other business priorities. This demand isn’t surprising when you look at the positive impact that social investments can have on a business. Various studies have highlighted a wide range of internal and external benefits, including McKinsey’s comprehensive study of 3,249 executives that shows companies that are more advanced in using social and collaborative Web 2.0 technologies reported improved market share and higher profit margins. Users have their own perceptions.  When asked where in the company improved social tools and processes would have the biggest impact, more than half of all respondents cited customer-related benefits. Specifically they called out:

  • Attracting new customers (26 per cent)
  • Engaging and servicing existing customers (25 per cent)
  • Improving collaboration and information sharing (15 per cent)
  • Engaging employees and increasing job satisfaction (12 per cent)
  • Attracting new employees (9 per cent)
  • Improving business operations (7 per cent)

Beyond acquiring new customers and servicing existing customers, the benefits to which users pointed varied based on company size and where users were located.  For example: U.K. respondents were twice as likely to select employee engagement as those in the U.S., while U.S. respondents were 1.5x more likely to select attract new customers, Compared to small companies, large companies put half as much importance on attracting new customers and were at least 1.5x more likely to value employee engagement.

Company Culture and Strategy Ownership Are More Important Than Budget

Even if a company invests more in social tools and processes, according to users, some changes need to happen to have a bigger impact. When respondents were asked the biggest change their company could make to become a more social business, nearly 30 per cent said shifting the company culture. That was the top choice across regions, industries and company size. Designating a person or group responsible was second on the list with 20 per cent of respondents.  Setting aside budget for social technologies was only selected by 15 per cent of respondents. To see full survey results and implications of this data, check out Appirio’s “State of Social @ Work” eBook.

 

About Appirio

Appirio accelerates the cloud-powered business, helping enterprises achieve significant results from cloud applications and platforms like salesforce.com, Google and Workday. Appirio has worked with more than 300 enterprise customers including organizations like City of Los Angeles, Facebook, Flextronics, International Hotels Group, Japan Post Network, Ltd., L’Oreal, NetApp, NYU, Starbucks, Thomson Reuters and VMware. Appirio’s technology-enabled professional services are supported by a team of nearly 500 cloud experts and CloudSpokes, a almost 50,000 person-strong global cloud developer community. The company’s expertise and innovative brokerage technology have been recognized by organizations such as the World Economic Forum, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, InformationWeek, and IDC. Appirio has offices that span the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific, and is backed by Sequoia Capital, GGV Capital and General Atlantic.