According to an IBM study, although social networking for enterprises creates valued customer experiences, increased workforce productivity and innovation, most middle management leaders find it difficult to embrace these capabilities into their everyday workload.
Of the 1,160 business and IT professionals surveyed, only 22 percent believe managers are prepared to handle and incorporate social media into their daily practices even though 46 percent of companies say they’ve increased their investments in social technologies in 2012.
What it comes down to, however, is that 66 percent of respondents say they don’t fully understand the potential impact social media can have on a company over the next three years. In addition, nearly 75 percent of respondents said they were underprepared for the required cultural changes.
“Businesses are struggling to make sense of the vast amount of data generated from social networks,” said Kevin Custis, vice president of IBM Global Business Services in a company release. “To transform a vision into a reality, executive leadership must guide middle management on the value of being a social business, and build company-wide support for the use of social practices across organizational functions.”
IBM describes social business as embedding social tools, media and practices into the ongoing activities of the organization. Social business enables employees, customer, stakeholders and business partners to share resources, skills and knowledge in order to help drive a business further.
According to the IBM report, “The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It’s Done,” those who are at the forefront of social business are developing more than just a presence on major platforms like Facebook and Twitter.
For instance, implementing basic techniques such as active forums and collaborative cloud spaces can help engage employees with each other as well as customers. Incorporating these features allows users to share new ideas with each other and thus, accelerate innovation.
Once this infrastructure is in place, IBM suggests businesses can begin to create blog and activity posts. With blog posts and activity streams, companies can positively accentuate project management tasks for customers, stakeholders and partners.
TD Bank, for example, is a company that IBM says applied social practices which effectively engaged their customers. In an effort to enhance customer service, TD Bank, one of the largest retail banks in North America, began incorporating the social services of Twitter and other social platforms to listen, reach out and respond to customers in real-time. According to IBM, these interactions range from inquiries and questions about products and services, to day-to-day banking and problem resolution.
IBM concludes the report by stating that although adopting social platforms is important to a business’ success, it is more than simply using these social media tools. Instead, enterprises have entered a “new period of fundamental transformation in the way work is done at all levels … and across all organizational boundaries.”