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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).

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).

About the Authors:

David Kiron is the executive editor of the Big Ideas Initiatives at MIT Sloan Management Review, which brings ideas from the world of thinkers to the executives and managers who use them.

Doug Palmer is a principal at Deloitte Consulting LLP and leader of Deloitte’s Social Business practice.

Anh Nguyen Phillips is a senior manager within Deloitte’s U.S. Strategy, Brand & Innovation group, where she leads strategic thought leadership initiatives.

Robert Berkman is the contributing editor for the Big Ideas Social Business Initiative at MIT Sloan Management Review.


The Deloitte research team would also like to thank the following individuals for their contributions:

Daniel Byler, Deloitte Services LP

Kelly Ganis, Deloitte Services LP

Maria Gutierrez, Deloitte Services LP

Satish Nelanuthula, Deloitte Services LP

Negina Rood, Deloitte Services LP

Prathima Shetty, Deloitte Services LP

Cynthia Switzer, Deloitte Services LP


We thank each of the following individuals, who were interviewed for this report:

Vala Afshar, Chief Marketing Officer & Chief Customer Officer, Enterasys Networks;

Jeanne Beliveau-Dunn, Vice President and General Manager, Cisco;

Leslie Berland, Senior Vice President, Digital Partnerships and Development, American Express;

Lauren Boyman, Director of Digital Strategy, Morgan Stanley Wealth Management;

Vernon Bubb, Business Development Director, BT Global Services;

Lisa Calicchio, Vice President, Employee Relations, Global Recruiting & Diversity, Covance;

Susan Etlinger, Industry Analyst, Altimeter Group;

Darrell Flewell, CFO, Linux Professional Institute;

Sam Ford, Director of Digital Strategy, Peppercomm Strategic Communications;

Anna Granholm-Brun, Corporate Brand Manager, Maersk Group; Paul Green Jr., Self Management Institute, Morningstar Tomato Processing;

Justin Herman, Social Media Program Manager, Center for Excellence in Digital Government, Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies, General Services Administration;

Dion Hinchcliffe, Chief Strategy Officer, Dachis Group;

Bill Ingram, Vice President Analytics and Social at Adobe Systems, Nadine Jean-Francois, Director Supply Chain Management, Teva Canada;

Stacy Jolna, Co-Founder and Chief Marketing Officer, ConnecTV;

Sheila Jordan, Senior Vice President of Communication and Collaboration IT, Cisco;

Jerry Kane, Professor, Carroll School of Management, Boston College;

Beth Kanter, trainer and blogger;

Ralf Larsson, Director of Online Employee Engagement and Development, Electrolux;

Richard Margetic, Director of Global Social Media, Dell Inc.; Mark McDonald, co-author, The Digital Edge: Exploiting Information and Technology for Business Advantage;

Jo Natale, Director of Media Relations, Wegmans Food Markets; Natasha Nelson, CIO, CARA Operations;

J.P. Rangaswami, Chief Scientist, Salesforce.com;

James M. Sheppard, Chief of Police, City of Rochester, New York; Michelle Shildkret, Social Media Consultant;

Genevieve Shore, CIO and Chief Product and Marketing Officer, Pearson PLC;

Michael Slind, co-author, Talk, Inc.: How Trusted Leaders Use Conversation to Power Their Organizations;

Ron Utterbeck, CIO for GE Corporate and Director, Advanced Manufacturing and Technology Center, GE;

Ralf VonSosen, Head of Marketing for Sales Solutions, LinkedIn; Ray Wang, CEO, Constellation Research;

Amy Sample Ward, Chief Executive Officer, NTEN.

MIT Sloan Management Review

MIT Sloan Management Review leads the discourse among academic researchers, business executives and other influential thought leaders about advances in management practice that are transforming how people lead and innovate. MIT SMR disseminates new management research and innovative ideas so that thoughtful executives can capitalize on the opportunities generated by rapid organizational, technological and societal change.

You may contact the authors or find additional reporting from MIT Sloan Management Review at sloanreview.mit.edu


This publication contains general information only and is based on the experiences and research of Deloitte practitioners. Deloitte is not, by means of this publication, rendering business, financial, investment or other professional advice or services. This publication is not a substitute for such professional advice or services, nor should it be used as a basis for any decision or action that may affect your business. Before making any decision or taking any action that may affect your business, you should consult a qualified professional advisor. Deloitte, its affiliates and related entities shall not be responsible for any loss sustained by any person who relies on this publication.

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. Member of Deloitte Touche Tohmatsu Limited.

About Deloitte University Press

Deloitte University Press publishes original articles, reports and periodicals that provide insights for businesses, the public sector and NGOs. Our goal is to draw upon research and experience from throughout our professional services organization, and that of coauthors in academia and business, to advance the conversation on a broad spectrum of topics of interest to executives and government leaders. You may contact the authors or send an e-mail to dupress@deloitte.com for more information.

Additional information from Deloitte on the topic of social business can be foundhere


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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: https://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.