When pushing for leading edge technology, I often hear skepticism – sometimes quite and often quite articulate. Sandy Carter (VP, Social Business Evangelism & Sales, IBM), in her presentations relates a memorable anecdote about a senior banking executive who denied the possibility of web technology taking roots in Banking, and how he eventually had to revisit his skepticism. McKinsey’s report “Rise of the networked social enterprise” has a similar anecdote about economist Robert Solow who remarked “You can see the computer age everywhere but in the productivity statistics” while talking about the relevance of use of IT in Enterprise Resource Planning and the like.

Skepticism is not hard to understand. It is essentially a focus on the obstacles that is holding a trend back rather than a focus on the enablers that are egging the trend on. But McKinsey’s report throws a lot of data on how enterprise social technologies are bringing real business results right today. And McKinsey being McKinsey, they are focused on hard data on financial performance to evaluate results rather than relying on anecdotal, feel good stories. Their study is based on a survey done one more than 3000 executives in wide range of industries, functional areas and geographies.

The benefits of adopting Web 2.0 and social inside the enterprise include among others:

  • Increasing speed of access to knowledge
  • Reducing Communication Costs
  • Increasing speed of access to internal experts
  • Decreasing travel costs
  • Increasing customer satisfaction
  • Increasing effectiveness of marketing

They categorize the companies being surveyed into four groups viz, Less Networked, Internally Networked, Externally Networked, Fully Networked. It is interesting to see that nearly 80% of the companies studied and categorized are as on date are considered “Less Networked” showing enormous growth waiting to happen in both internal and external networking and social enabling of businesses.

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What do you think about enterprise social technologies? Share your views in the comments section.