New research released by CompTIA, the non-profit association for the information technology (IT) industry, suggests that businesses can improve communications, recruiting, customer relationships and other processes by expanding their social engagement beyond well-known public sites.
“Social media and social networking are widely recognized terms associated with large public sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” said Seth Robinson, director, technology analysis, CompTIA. “But these terms do not fully convey the full range of social applications available to businesses.”
For businesses the social space can be divided into two categories: public social media sites and social enterprise tools that bring social capabilities into an organization’s business processes.
“Social enterprise tools incorporate the characteristics of social media into business processes, allowing for stronger internal collaboration, deeper understanding of customers and other positive outcomes,” Robinson said.
The top five business benefits of employing social tools identified in CompTIA’sSocial Business: Trends and Opportunities study are:
1. Better communication with customers, cited by 61 percent of responding companies
2. Cost savings (51 percent)
3. Brand positioning (49 percent)
4. Real-time customer satisfaction (48 percent)
5. Potential lead generation (43 percent)
“Companies find that the conversational nature of social media allows them to carry on discussions with their customers, strengthening the relationship and gleaning insights on products, services and satisfaction,” Robinson said. “It makes good business sense to apply their success using social tools to internal activities and processes.”
Robinson noted, however, that for the large majority of organizations the move to the social enterprise is in its infancy – if it’s even started at all. Companies may also struggle through several trial-and-error scenarios as they meld new social tools with existing communications platforms and operational processes.
Widespread Use of Social Media The CompTIA survey of 400 business and IT executives finds that that the large majority of firms now using social tools are taking their first steps by using social media. A full 82 percent of responding organizations have a Facebook presence, 68 percent have a Twitter profile and 68 percent, a LinkedIn page. By comparison, less than one in five companies are currently using social enterprise tools.
“Confusion over terminology and hesitation to adopt a consumer-driven development inside the enterprise make the social landscape one that still requires definition and justification for many companies,” said Robinson. “Understanding the characteristics of social technologies is a critical starting point for understanding their business use.”
Robinson noted that while the marketing staff has been the primary owner of social activity to this point, IT departments will play a critical role in the further development of the social enterprise. IT departments may craft strategies, develop policies, build the overall social platform, select the appropriate social tools and integrate them into the enterprise environment.
The social enterprise may also offer opportunities for IT solution providers, even at this early stage. In fact, 10 percent of companies surveyed by CompTIA said their solution provider owns their social activity. Another 38 percent have consulted with a solution provider on social topics.
CompTIA’s Social Business: Trends and Opportunities study is based on a January 2012 online survey of 400 IT and business professionals in a variety of industries in the United States.[Source: CompTIA]