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).
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).