Social Business: Opportunities & Challenges for Big Enterprises

20 years ago, Internet disrupted business and today its social media. Social business is no longer a playground for small companies and startups – it’s challenging big enterprises from innovation to implementation and communication to compliance. It has become a true global phenomenon that is disrupting the business across verticals. The impact of social media is observed across industries although the adoption strategy and implementation pattern is different for different companies.

Market Predictions

Gartner predicts that Social CRM will surpass $1 billion by end of 2012, up from approximately $625 million in 2010. IBM’s Vice President of Social Business Evangelism, Sandy Carter goes further and cites that social business will be a $100 billion industry by 2015.

Social Business – Big Moves

Microsoft struck a deal to buy Yammer, an enterprise social networking tool for $1.2 billion in cash. Salesforce bought Rypple, a social performance platform and Radian6, a social media monitoring platform. Oracle bought Collective Intellect, a social media and text mining analytics tool. And, the story is not just limited to Microsoft, Oracle and Salesforce – all the big IT vendors are consolidating their product portfolio by either acquiring a social product or adding social elements into their existing product suite. CEO and founder of Social Fresh, Jason Keath has prepared a list of 30 big social acquisitions of 2011.

Survey & Findings

Recently Social Media Examiner did a survey with over 3,800 marketers with the goal of understanding how they are using social media to grow and promote their businesses. One of the major findings of this survey is – A significant 83% of marketers indicate that social media is important for their business.  Another key finding is related to measurement and targeting. 40% of all social media marketers want to know how to measure the return on investment (ROI) of social media and find customers and prospects.

What are companies actually doing?

MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte conducted a survey of managers from companies in 115 countries and 24 industries to find out the following:

  • Will social networking and social software transform businesses?
  • Are they already doing so?
  • What kinds of enterprises are benefiting the most?
  • And how are they benefiting?

They chose 3,478 respondents from wide range of management roles (from coordinators to board directors), functional areas and business sizes. Majority of respondents (52%) of this survey believe that social business is important to their businesses today and whipping 86% of managers believe that social business will be important in next three years.

Survey respondents highlighted that marketing, sales and customer service are most responsible for driving social software use in their organizations.

Some industries like Media and Tech are seeing more value from social tools than other industries. But even managers in industries that place a lower value on social business believe that social tools will become much more valuable over time. Energy and utilities, manufacturing and the financial services sectors expect that social business will become five to six times more important to their organizations in three years.

Why they can’t avoid it?

The consumption of content is not limited to personal computers, it’s happening from smartphones and tablets to laptops and other handheld equipment. There are more intelligent devices in the hands of consumers and organizations have no control on it. The engagement with customers and partners are increasing and everything is out in public. 70% of the content that’s out there on public web about a brand is user-generated. Organizations have no control over public perception of their brands. In this changing landscape, it’s a business imperative to join the social media bandwagon that’s taking place. Some of the early adopters have already started this journey but others need to leverage this quickly to not only grow but survive.

Where is it moving?

Jeffrey Zeldman, Designer, Writer, and Publisher rightly says, the future of social media is… UBIQUITOUS. It will be baked into everything we use, from desktop software, to mobile and the web, to the thermostat and phone in our hotel room.

Chad Hurley, CEO of Delicious and co-founder of YouTube says, Social media will be the main engine of discovery, giving us the ability to find the signal within the noise. As people’s networks and interactions expand, massive data sets will generate predictive models that will know what you want before you look for it.

Other thought leaders of the industry also have similar views about social media. It’s going to grow and it’s going to get much deeper into the lives of individuals as well as businesses. 

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