New Research Shows Social Tools and Processes Making Progress in Business, But Still Early Days

September 11, 2012 Appirio

Appirio Survey Showcases High User Demand for Social Investment, But That Company Culture and Ownership Remain Barriers to Adoption

San Francisco, Calif. – September 11, 2012 – Appirio today announced the results of its first international survey on “The State of Social @ Work,” highlighting users’ demand for increased investment in social tools and processes but also how far companies still have to go before social makes a broader and more significant impact on the business.

The survey of more than 300 managers and employees from across the U.S. and U.K. was conducted by independent research firm, iTracks, on behalf of Appirio, a technology-enabled services firm that helps companies power their business with the cloud.  Respondents covered a wide range of roles, industries and company size, and were not limited to social or executive decision makers, to better understand how social people are on the job.  Click here for full demographics.

“As business and technical advisors, we know social tools and processes can have a significant impact on a company’s brand, relationships and bottom line,” said Narinder Singh, Chief Strategy Officer at Appirio. “But to be truly successful with social, companies must listen to the actual users of those tools and processes rather than force something from the top down. Whether it’s politics or technology, we all too often forget to consider the people’s perspective and fail because our strategies are based on false assumptions.”

Users Say Companies Are Still in the Early Stage of Social Adoption
There’s no question that people are becoming increasingly social in their personal lives. A 2011 study from Pew Internet Research indicates that 65 percent of online adults are active users of social networking sites – a statistic reinforced in Appirio’s own survey results.  In Appirio’s survey, that number jumps to nearly 90 percent when you add in other social tools like video, photo sharing and microblogging sites. However, people are not as experienced when it comes to social use at work – only 57 percent of respondents use social tools to do their job.

Companies today are even less far along when it comes to social adoption. Thirteen percent of respondents would go as far as to label their company “anti-social,” saying there is no investment in social at all. Forty-four percent say their company is still just researching or testing social tools or strategies, and 43 percent are using one or more social tools.

While social adoption in the enterprise might be in the early stages, users say investment is happening. More than 35 percent of respondents said their companies had set aside budgets or resources to make business processes more social. The top three areas of investment were “establishing social media policies” (47 percent), “building out a presence on social sites” (37 percent) and “adding social features to existing internal applications (31 percent).”

Demand For Social Investment Is High, Based on Real and Perceived Benefits
According to users, their companies’ current investments in social tools and processes isn’t enough.  More than 40 percent of respondents say their company should invest more time and resources in becoming a social enterprise compared to other business priorities. 

This demand isn’t surprising when you look at the positive impact that social investments can have on a business. Various studies have highlighted a wide range of internal and external benefits, including McKinsey’s comprehensive study of 3,249 executives that shows companies that are more advanced in using social and collaborative Web 2.0 technologies reported improved market share and higher profit margins.

Users have their own perceptions.  When asked where in the company improved social tools and processes would have the biggest impact, more than half of all respondents cited customer-related benefits. Specifically they called out:

  • Attracting new customers (26 percent)
  • Engaging and servicing existing customers (25 percent)
  • Improving collaboration and information sharing (15 percent)
  • Engaging employees and increasing job satisfaction (12 percent)
  • Attracting new employees (9 percent)
  • Improving business operations (7 percent)

Beyond acquiring new customers and servicing existing customers, the benefits to which users pointed varied based on company size and where users were located.  For example:
U.K. respondents were twice as likely to select employee engagement as those in the U.S., while U.S. respondents were 1.5x more likely to select attract new customers,
Compared to small companies, large companies put half as much importance on attracting new customers and were at least 1.5x more likely to value employee engagement. 

Company Culture and Strategy Ownership Are More Important Than Budget
Even if a company invests more in social tools and processes, according to users, some changes need to happen to have a bigger impact. When respondents were asked the biggest change their company could make to become a more social business, nearly 30 percent said shifting the company culture. That was the top choice across regions, industries and company size. Designating a person or group responsible was second on the list with 20 percent of respondents.  Setting aside budget for social technologies was only selected by 15 percent of respondents.

To see full survey results and implications of this data, check out Appirio’s “State of Social @ Work” eBook.

About Appirio
Appirio accelerates the cloud-powered business, helping enterprises achieve significant results from cloud applications and platforms like, Google and Workday. Appirio has worked with more than 300 enterprise customers including organizations like City of Los Angeles, Facebook, Flextronics, International Hotels Group, Japan Post Network, Ltd., L’Oreal, NetApp, NYU, Starbucks, Thomson Reuters and VMware. Appirio’s technology-enabled professional services are supported by a team of nearly 500 cloud experts and CloudSpokes, a almost 50,000 person-strong global cloud developer community. The company’s expertise and innovative brokerage technology have been recognized by organizations such as the World Economic Forum, Bloomberg BusinessWeek, InformationWeek, and IDC. Appirio has offices that span the U.S., Europe and Asia Pacific, and is backed by Sequoia Capital, GGV Capital and General Atlantic.

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