Study Finds Enterprise 2.0 Reaps Results

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A report published last week illuminates just how some organizations are using social tools inside and outside their enterprise and what results they’re seeing, and it’s worth a read.

The report “When Social Meets Business Real Work Gets Done” shows tangible gains from the use of social initiatives within organizations of all sizes. Written by MIT professor Andrew McAfee, the paper reveals the results of an AIIM study that looked at the progress of social business technologies in organizations from 10 to over 5,000 employees, with a focus on three use cases: sales and marketing collaboration, open innovation and enterprise Q&A.

"All three areas addressed by the Task Force demonstrate that when people engage properly with each other and with technology, trust, self-organization, and good business results emerge," McAfee said in a press release. "The three use cases are true examples of social business because they depend on people with strong, weak and potential ties to organize their own workflows, roles and credentials."

McAfee knows a few things about social business, having coined the phrase “Enterprise 2.0” in a spring 2006 Sloan Management Review article and authored the book "Enterprise 2.0: New Collaborative Tools for your Organization's Toughest Challenges."

Some of the key findings:

  • Enterprise Q&A -- the ability for employees to ask and answer questions across the organization -- was the most popular social business initiative of the three studied, with 29% of respondents reporting an enterprise Q&A system was already in place in their company.
  • A 60% satisfaction rate was reported among organizations with rewards-based enterprise Q&A.
  • Open innovation -- defined as technology to support the involvement of people both inside and outside the company in innovation processes -- is widespread, with 26% of respondents saying they’re already engaging in some form of it. It’s also reaping big dividends: 48% of respondents report that open innovation has yielded “major changes” to internal processes, and 34% report the same for their external offerings.
  • The use of Enterprise 2.0 tools to improve collaboration between sales and marketing was the least adopted initiative in the study. But of those respondents who are actively pursuing it, 60% reported significant gains in knowledge sharing and communication.

User perspectives throughout the paper offer interesting glimpses into social applications inside some well-known brands. For instance, General Mills’ 3500-employee headquarters had a long-standing “hallway culture,” that relied on informal interactions in the hallways of the corporate office for knowledge sharing. That was lost as the company expanded to a 32,000-employee global organization. To remedy that, the company implemented “Connect the General Mills Global Hallway,” a Q&A initiative that allows an employee who asks a question to tab an answer as the right answer. The system will soon be updated to include “likes” and commenting.

Video game developer Electronic Arts, another enterprise Q&A practitioner, holds 2-3 day subject-matter-expert workshops, where a half-dozen or so experts give a talk each day. Each presentation is video recorded, tagged and linked to the presenter’s social profile so viewers can contact the speaker directly.

"We are clearly moving into a new phase in social technologies, one in which the critical success factor will be the integration of social technologies into key organizational processes," said AIIM President, John Mancini. "The end objective should not be to simply set up social networks inside our organizations, but to actually make our organizations social. There is still a lot of work to be done to fulfill this potential, but the three use cases suggest that significant progress is happening inside business."

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