Social Media Poised To Become A Stronger Force For Innovation

Companies have big plans to use social tools as innovation platforms, details a new study [download page] from the IBM Institute for Business Value. Among companies experienced in social innovation activities, 57% now use social business for internal collaboration, but that number will reach 78% over the next 2 years. Similarly, while 58% now monitor customer comments for new ideas, 78% plan to do so in the next 2 years. Other areas in which more respondents plan to use social business for innovation include gathering feedback from customers (73% planning vs. 46% currently using), enabling customers to submit plans and solutions (68% vs. 40%) and more effectively collaborating with partners and suppliers (72% vs. 38%).

A separate study from the Economist Intelligence Unit and Oracle released in November similarly found social media looming large in innovation cultures. Asked which of 4 technologies would best be suited for helping their companies’ business units innovate effectively, a plurality of global executives named social media for developing new channels to market (44%) and improving customer experience (43%). Still, they chose big data analysis first for developing new products or services (38%), improving business process (38%), and developing new pricing models (60%).

Meanwhile, the IBM study shows that whether or not their companies leverage social tools for innovation, a growing number plan to use them to drive workforce productivity and effectiveness. So while 39% of companies that use workforce-related social business activities enable customer interaction, 63% plan to do so in the next 2 years. These organizations will also ramp up their use of social networks for vendor and partner interaction (28% today, 58% over the next 2 years) and to leverage external talent, for example, via crowdsourcing (24% and 54%, respectively).

Social Meets The Customer Journey

Further details from IBM’s “The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It’s Done” reveals that organizations plan to increase their use of social media at every stage in the customer journey, including marketing, lead generation, sales and post-sales support. Among those companies that use social business for customer-related activity, 71% report using it to promote events and marketing campaigns, while 83% will do so in 2 years. Also, social media will play a bigger role over the next 2 years in generating sales leads and revenue (74% vs. 51%), providing product and services support (69% vs. 46%) and selling products directly to customers (61% vs. 35%).

About The Data: The IBM Institute for Business Value (IBV), in conjunction with Economist Intelligence Unit, conducted an online survey around the world and across a dozen industries resulting in 1,161 responses to a detailed questionnaire. The IBV also drew upon findings from IBM’s face-to-face interviews of several thousand senior executives from around the world conducted in the past two years, as well as interviews with 21 global executives recognized as leaders in implementing social business practices in North America, Europe, India and South Korea.