Introduction: An Opportunity on the Immediate Horizon

In an interview for this year’s social business report, Gerald Kane, professor at the Carroll School of Management at Boston College, succinctly characterized where social business stands today: “Any new technology experiences a faddish hype cycle where people adopt it because they feel they have to,” he says. “With social, we are passing the peak of faddishness. Companies are starting to crack social’s code and turning to it for business advantage, intelligence and insight.” In this second annual report from the MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte Social Business Study,1 we probed executives’ views of the social business opportunity and how companies are harnessing its value. The study included 2,545 respondents from 25 industries and 99 countries. It also incorporated interviews with nearly three dozen executives and social business thought leaders. Echoing Kane’s observation, a key finding of the research is the rapid growth in importance of social to business. In 2011’s survey, 18% of respondents said it was “important today.” One year later, the number doubled to 36%. The time horizon of its importance is also shrinking. In last year’s report, 40% of respondents agreed that social would be important one year from now. In 2012, the number jumped to 54% (see Figure 1).
Figure 1

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In the 2011 survey, 18% of respondents said social business was “important,” the highest possible level on a five point scale. In the 2012 survey, that number doubled to 36%.

More Industries Are Getting On Board

The immediacy of the social business opportunity is growing across industries, another indicator of its move from faddish hype to business value. Between last year’s study and this year’s, respondents from all industry sectors increased the value they place on social business. None remained at the same level. None reversed course (see Figure 2).

Figure 2

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Respondents were asked to rank how important social business is to their organization on a five point scale. “Important” was the highest possible ranking. In 2012, most industry sectors had at least 25% of respondents agree that social business is important, reversing the results from 2011 when most industry sectors were below the 25% line.

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References

1. As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Services LP, which are separate subsidiaries of Deloitte LLP. Please see www.deloitte.com/us/about for a detailed description of the legal structure of Deloitte LLP and its subsidiaries. Certain services may not be available to attest clients under the rules and regulations of public accounting.

2. Pike Research: Social Media in the Utility Industry Consumer Survey, 2011 (Pike Research rebranded as Navigant Research in 2012).

3. McKinsey Global Institute: The Social Economy: Unlocking Value and Productivity through Social Technologies, July 2012

4. Forrester: The Four Social Marketing Tools You Need, February 25, 2013

5. Gartner: Agenda Overview for Social Software and Collaboration, 2013. January 2, 2013

6. Deloitte: U.S. State of the Media Democracy Survey, Seventh Edition, 2013 www.deloitte.com/us/tmttrends

7. Gartner: Predicts 2013 Social and Collaboration Go Deeper and Wider, November 28, 2012

8. Dion Hinchcliffe interview with Robert Berkman, MIT Sloan Management Review, June 3, 2013. See: http://sloanreview.mit.edu/article/how-companies-can-move-past-a-trough-of-disillusionment-in-social-business/

9. In order to assess the impact of multiple variables at once, a regression analysis was used to identify statistically significant and practically meaningful adoption factors, that contributed to social business maturity.

10. LinkedIn’s Social Selling Index assesses a company’s activity on LinkedIn by measuring four areas: brand, reach, activity and contribution. Brand is measured based on the completeness of a company’s sales force profile. Reach is measured by the number of LinkedIn connections. Activity is measured by the number of searches and messages (InMails) sales professionals are executing and sending. Contribution is measured by the amount of content updates sales professionals are posting to LinkedIn.

11. http://www.nielsen.com/us/en/press-room/2012/nielsen-and-twitter-establish-social-tv-rating.html

12. Nielsen: Double Vision — Global Trends in Tablet and Smartphone Use While Watching TV, April 5, 2012

13. Nielsen: State of the Media Spring 2012 Advertising & Audiences, Part 2: By Demographic, April 27, 2012

14. David M. Gilfoil and Charles Jobs: Return on Investment for Social Media: A Proposed Framework for Understanding, Implementing, and Measuring the Return, Journal of Business & Economic Research, Vol. 10 No. 11, 2012. journals.cluteonline.com/index.php/JBER/article/download/7363/7431

15. Jason Miller: New metrics to help agencies determine value of social media, February 20, 2013. http://www.federalnewsradio.com/513/3229214/New-metrics-to-help-agencies-determine-value-of-social-media

16. Gartner: 2013 Social Marketing Survey Finding: Content Creation Fuels Social Marketing, March 25, 2013

17. http://smbp.uwaterloo.ca/2012/10/cocacola/ (Accessed May 3, 2013)

18. Deloitte: Tech Trends 2013: Elements of postdigital, 2013

19. Punit Renjen: Lead or Be Left Behind: A Chairman’s Perspective on Social Media, Directors & Boards, First Quarter 2013.

i. John Hagel: Enterprises Still Honing Their Social Skills, February 1, 2013 http://deloitte.wsj.com/cio/2013/02/01/john-hagel-enterprises-still-honing-their-social-skills/