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What Managers Really Think About Social Business

Given that technology-based social networking has been transforming social norms on a global scale for the past decade, will social networking and social software have a similarly transformative effect on business? Are they already doing so? What kinds of enterprises are benefiting the most? And how are they benefiting?
To answer these questions, MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte conducted a survey, to which 3,478 people, representing a wide range of management roles (from coordinators to board directors), functional areas and business sizes, responded. In the survey, managers were asked about social business, which was defined as business activities that use social media, social software and social networks. The analysis of survey results was supplemented with interviews with thought leaders and business executives, including conversations with senior managers from companies at the cutting edge of social business practice, such as McDonald's, IBM,, SAP and Yammer.
One of the major findings identified a difference of opinion within the executive suite on the value of social business. CEOs are nearly twice as likely as CIOs to view social collaboration tools as important to their business today (28% versus 15%), and only 14% of CFOs surveyed identify social tools as important. Interview data suggest that many CIOs struggle with an unarticulated vision for how they want to use social business corporatewide. While a clear vision and leadership are cited most frequently as critical to adoption of social software, the most common answer to the question, "How do you measure social software use?" was: "not measured."
The study also found that, despite the discrepancies, most managers do see the value in the present and future importance of social business. A majority of survey responders (52%) believe that social business is important or somewhat important to their business today. A total of 86% of responders believe social business will be important or somewhat important in three years.
Other specific findings include:
Size matters: The largest organizations, those with over 100,000 employees, and the smallest, those with less than 1,000 employees, tend to appreciate the value of social business today more than midsized organizations.
Business value: Respondents see the most value in social software in the areas of "managing customer relationships" and "innovating for competitive differentiation."

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