Social business (the use of internal and external social media, software and data) is growing in its importance to organizations around the world, according to [download page] a new study released by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte. This year, 36% of the 2,545 respondents from 25 industries and 99 countries said that social business is very important to their business today, double last year’s 18% ascribing that level of importance. But despite a host of positive signs, separate results suggest that “the majority of companies… appear to be stuck in first gear” on the road to becoming social businesses.
The researchers asked respondents: “Imagine an organization transformed by social tools that drive collaboration and information sharing across the enterprise and integrate social data into operational processes. How close is your company to achieving this ideal?” (This presumably is the social business ideal.) Faced with this definition, a majority 52% of respondents said that their social maturity remains at an early stage (1-3 on a 10-point scale). Slightly less than one-third rate their maturity as developing (4-7), while 17% are in the “maturing” bucket (7-10).
The study identifies key barriers to progress: the lack of an overall strategy (cited by 28% of respondents); too many competing priorities (26%); and the lack of a proven business case or strong value proposition (21%). Close behind, 1 in 5 also cited lack of management understanding of social business and security concerns (brand risk, lack of control, etc.) as one of their top-3 barriers.
While these and other barriers may be slowing progress towards social business maturity, executives give reason to believe that they’re headed in that direction. For example, a majority see social business being very important to their organization 1 year from today (54%) and 3 years from today (69%). Further, the important of social business today has grown year-over-year among each of the industry sectors examined. Also important: the generational gap appears to be closing, argue the researchers, citing a separate Deloitte study that discovered Gen Xers and Baby Boomers deriving increasing value from social media.
So what factors impact social maturity? For small and large businesses alike, lack of senior management sponsorship is the key detractor, per this latest study. For small businesses, the lack of an individual with direct responsibility for social business is the next largest detractor, followed by the lack of an overall strategy. (For large businesses, those latter two detractors are swapped in relative importance.)
Meanwhile, for large businesses, companies that had significant integration of social business into many functions tended to display a greater maturity than those who did not. High levels of use of a variety of social business platforms and use of social business in daily decision making also correlated with greater maturity levels among large businesses. For small businesses, high levels of use of a variety of platforms appears to be the greatest differentiator in maturity levels.
About the Data: The survey was conducted in the fall of 2012. The sample was drawn from a number of sources, including MIT alumni, MIT Sloan Management Review subscribers, Deloitte Dbriefs subscribers and other interested parties.