Large companies and small to medium-sized businesses (SMBs) use external business social tools much differently, leading to completely different selling motions and partner opportunities, says Microsoft.
Business social tools are defined by Microsoft as technologies that enable business collaboration and communication, such as intranets, video conferencing and social networks.
Conducted by research firm Ipsos, the study included nearly 10,000 end users at SMBs and large enterprises in 32 countries.
Microsoft found that while SMBs are more likely to utilize multiple social tools for professional purposes, large companies are more likely to deploy fewer, more common collaborative tools.
For instance, 61 percent of respondents within large companies said they prefer team sites/intranets, while only 51 percent of SMBs do. However, 37 percent of SMBs versus 30 percent of large companies choose to use public FTP/cloud storage, and 35 percent of SMBs choose external social networks.
“Social collaboration technologies represent a growing opportunity for partners with strong demand from end users at both large companies and SMBs,” said John Roskill, corporate vice president at Microsoft. “However, each segment uses these technologies in different ways, with SMBs seeing public FTP/cloud storage, external social networks and blogging platforms, while large companies clearly prefer intranets, team sites and video conferencing.”
Roskill concludes, “These differences represent huge opportunities for partners, and we’re committed to helping them capitalize on the potential in this space.”
Overall, both large and small businesses (70 percent) said they generally use social tools for communicating with their colleagues.
Smaller companies, however, tend to also use these tools for tasks like communicating with customers, clients or vendors and researching customers, clients and competitors. On the other hand, large companies utilize social tools for finding an expert of information within their company.
Nevertheless, these collaborative social tools also come with much concern for both small and large businesses. Across both groups, barriers to adoption still exist with security concerns – large companies (71 percent) and SMBs (60 percent) – and productivity loss – large companies (58 percent) and SMBs (59 percent) as their top worry.
Additionally, both noted their IT department, concerns for company image and data loss as other possible risks when using social tools.
“The consumerization of IT has challenged the fundamental way in which businesses communicate, with enterprise social tools now following a ‘bring your own device’ model into the workplace,” said Rebecca Sizelove, associate vice president, Ipsos Public Affairs.
“However, there are distinct differences between how SMBs and large companies adopt these tools, and technology decision-makers still require a certain amount of education around the benefits social tools can provide. This creates opportunities for technology vendors to educate and sell to businesses of all sizes.”