Moving Beyond Marketing

Generating Social Business Value Across the Enterprise

by: Gerald C. Kane, Doug Palmer, Anh Nguyen Phillips, David Kiron, Natasha Buckley

This year’s MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte1 global survey found clear evidence that companies across industries are creating value with social business. A key finding is that social business value is a function of what we call social business maturity — the breadth and sophistication of its initiatives. In this year’s report, we detail the drivers of that maturity and how companies are using social business to transform their organizations and reap greater gains from their social business efforts. The following are highlights of our findings:

Social Business Grows Deep Roots

Social business is perceived as important both today and in the future.

After jumping from 52% in 2011 to 74% in 2012, 73% of this year’s survey respondents say that social business is important or somewhat important today. Nearly 90% see its importance on a three-year horizon.

Measurement sophistication is starting to prove its value.

In our first survey, “do not measure” was the most common response to questions about social business measurement. While more than half of the least socially mature companies in this year’s survey don’t measure their efforts, more than 90% of maturing companies actively do. These organizations are using a battery of measures, such as operational and financial metrics, to connect social initiatives to business outcomes. We also found a surprising common denominator among all companies, including the most socially mature: anecdotal evidence plays a major role in demonstrating the value of social business.

Social business is not just a B-to-C phenomenon.

In our two most recent annual surveys, we found that social business is important to very similar levels of respondents from B-to-C (business-to-consumer) and B-to-B (business-to-business). The impact of social business in these sectors is also comparable: nearly 60% of B-to-B companies agree or strongly agree that social business initiatives are positively impacting business outcomes. Among B-to-C respondents, the percentage is 68%.

Employees want to work for companies that excel at social business.

Some 57% of respondents say that social business sophistication is at least somewhat important in their choice of employer. That attitude is consistent among respondents aged 22 to 52.


1. As used in this document, “Deloitte” means Deloitte Consulting LLP and Deloitte Services LP, which are separate subsidiaries of Deloitte LLP. Please see 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. J. Mann, T. Austin, N. Drakos, C. Rozwell and A. Walls, “Predicts 2013: Social and Collaboration Go Deeper and Wider,” Gartner Inc. report, November 28, 2012.

3. These three drivers were identified using a decision tree analysis. Out-of-sample testing indicated the decision tree was a good fit.

4. D. Kiron, D. Palmer, A.N. Phillips and N.Kruschwitz, “Social Business: What Are Companies Really Doing?” MIT Sloan Management Review, May 30, 2012.

5. The Conference Board CEO Challenge global survey in 2011, 2012, 2013, and 2014 ranked human capital as either the first or second ranked business challenge.

6. E. Openshaw, J. Hagel and J.S. Brown, “From Invisible to Measurable: Social Analytics Extends Enterprise Performance Improvement,” Deloitte University Press, March 2014.

7. Ibid.

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Great guidance for social business research