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Melanie Turek
Melanie Turek is Vice President, Research at Frost & Sullivan. She is a renowned expert in unified communications, collaboration, social...
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Melanie Turek | February 21, 2011 |

 
   

Justifying the Cost of Social Media in the Enterprise

Justifying the Cost of Social Media in the Enterprise Perhaps the best news of all is how well received enterprise social software is. 54% of respondents say it exceeds their expectations--higher than any other enterprise communications tool.

Perhaps the best news of all is how well received enterprise social software is. 54% of respondents say it exceeds their expectations--higher than any other enterprise communications tool.

Next week at Enterprise Connect I will be moderating a panel on Building the Case for Social Software in the Enterprise. The thing I like best about the title of the session is that it assumes attendees already understand the value of social software; what they need now are tools for selling the technology to their CFO.

This idea is validated by the latest end-user data from Frost & Sullivan. In our most recent survey of 200 C-level executives in North America, we asked about their current usage and near-term plans for enterprise communications, including enterprise social software. Sixty-nine percent of respondents told us they are aware of social media, placing it ahead of telepresence, VoIP, shared team spaces, soft phones, and even unified communications and unified messaging. Almost half of the respondents say social media is used within the organization, and 41 percent use the technology personally.

Among executives who report social software in use within their company, 67 percent say it is used extensively at all levels of the organization, and another 26 percent say it is used mainly by senior management. (Keep in mind that not all organizations have a large worker population that uses PCs or other Internet devices on the job; in these companies, only senior management and certain back-office employees would be expected to have access to social media technology.)

Of those executives who personally use social media tools, 51 percent do so daily, and 32 percent do so on a weekly basis. Fifty-nine percent of respondents listed enterprise social software as "very important," giving it an average score of 4.45 on a scale of 1 to 5, with 5 being the most valuable.

Respondents were very clear on why social media is valuable. First up: "improving customer service," which 24 percent of CXOs listed as the top reason for using the technology. That's followed by "improving collaboration and productivity across geographically dispersed teams" (20 percent) and "enhancing employee mobility" (10 percent). Of those who intend to expand their use of enterprise social software, the vast majority expect it to improve customer service; others hope it will accelerate decision making and support corporate environmental goals.

Perhaps the best news of all, however, is how well received enterprise social software is. Fifty-four percent of respondents say it exceeds their expectations--higher than any other enterprise communications tool.

All of which is very good news for enterprise social software, which is clearly on the minds of most executives and in use in the majority of organizations. Still, only 42 percent of companies expect to increase their use of the technology in the next 12 months--lower than any other communications tool. Surely one of the main reasons for the lag is that it is difficult to justify the use of enterprise social software, which is, after all, still a very new technology, one whose benefits can be difficult to measure. So at the session on Wednesday morning (8:00am, Sun C) the panelists and I will try to deliver some very concrete examples of how to justify the cost of deploying this new technology. Hope to see you there!



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