A survey of 400 companies found that 94 percent of enterprises plan to maintain or increase their investment in enterprise social media tools such as blogs, wikis and microblogging tools from providers such as IBM, MindTouch, Socialcast, Mzinga and Jive Software. The results seem counterintuitive in light of the recession, but it shows the importance of these tools for social networking and collaboration, and proves that they are not just a fad in the enterprise. Social analytics tools are also part of the trend.
Despite the nagging recession, a new study found that 94
percent of enterprises plan to maintain or increase their investment in enterprise
social media tools such as blogs, wikis and microblogging tools.
Deloitte, Beeline Labs and the Society for
New Communications Research surveyed 400 companies that have cultivated internal
social networks or online communities, finding that only 6 percent plan to
decrease their investment in the recession. The communities surveyed ranged
from fewer than 100 members to more than one million members.
Ed Moran, director of product innovation for consultancy Deloitte
Services LP and one of the report authors, called the results counterintuitive
in light of the recession, noting that while IT, marketing and public relations
departments are being cut, companies continue to spend on social software for networking and collaboration.
Companies that go against the grain of belt-tightening by spending
on social software underscore the importance of these tools, proving
that they are not just a hip trend or fad in the enterprise.
"We call it the anti-fad because people have always
been social, talking about companies, products and services," Moran said. "They
just never had the mechanism for doing it at any kind of scale. This is not
going away and it's not just for kids."
Most of the companies Moran surveyed said they are using
social media tools to engage with customers, partners and employees for marketing
purposes, with word-of-mouth, customer loyalty, brand awareness, idea
generation and customer support quality comprising other community objectives. The
need to meet these goals presents great opportunities for enterprise social
Tools such as Twitter and Facebook are so popular that software
makers such as
Jive Software, Socialtext and Socialcast have all created comparable tools for businesses.
Instead of going
on Twitter or Facebook to talk trash about competitors, or to endorse products
and services they like (although people still do that, to the chagrin of
employers), employees are using blogs, wikis and Twitter-like status update
services their companies purchased for them from the aforementioned providers.
Moreover, Moran said he is
seeing an uptick in the adoption of analytics software that tracks both active
and inactive members to derive insights, something that was barely mentioned
even a year ago. Socialcast, Jive and Mzinga, among others, offer this software.
"The enterprise is waking up to the fact that it needs to listen and
that it needs business intelligence" for the communities, Moran said.
However, this is happening in pockets and is not yet widescale,
presenting opportunity for analytics tools providers.
Those survey respondents that are using these tools are paying attention to
non-active users or "lurkers," people who observe the community, but
don't participate in the discussion. Thirty-two percent of respondents are
capturing data on how these individuals derive value from the community. This
points to a maturation of the enterprise's use of communities and social media.
Moreover, 20 percent of companies Moran surveyed said
they have set up "ambassador" programs, which give outsiders
preferential treatment in return for being more active in the community.
Despite this maturation in enterprise social media,
companies still report having a hard time getting people to join, remain and/or
return to the online communities. Few companies are tackling these challenges,
paving the way for dedicated online community manager roles.
"New management strategies and practices will be
critical, including redefining the scope and role of alliances as well as the
overall boundary of corporations," Moran said.