Top 5 business benefits of social enterprise tools

Survey shows organizations slow to adopt enterprise-specific social tools

Despite the glut of social media and networking tools available, really, for several years now, enterprises are only beginning to leverage social applications, new research from CompTIA reveals. The IT industry association said Monday that most enterprise social initiatives revolve around major (and obvious) social platforms. “Social media and social networking are widely recognized terms associated with large public sites like Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn,” Seth Robinson, director of technology analysis for CompTIA, said in a statement announcing the Social Business: Trends and Opportunities report. “But these terms do not fully convey the full range of social applications available to businesses." CompTIA's survey of 400 business and IT executives shows that 82% of responding organizations are on Facebook, 68% have Twitter profiles, and 68% have a LinkedIn page. However, fewer than 20% use enterprise-specific social tools. “Social enterprise tools incorporate the characteristics of social media into business processes, allowing for stronger internal collaboration, deeper understanding of customers and other positive outcomes,” Robinson said. CompTIA also asked survey respondents to cite the top benefits of social enterprise tools. Here are the top five:

• Better communication with customers, cited by 61% of responding companies

• Cost savings (51%)

• Brand positioning (49%)

• Real-time customer satisfaction (48%)

• Potential lead generation (43%)

None of those are real surprises. Two involve making customers happy, another's about revenue (lead generation) and another's about branding. All those clearly are in social's wheelhouse. Cost savings, though, is interesting, especially since it's the No. 2 benefit cited. Are respondents referring to cost-savings in terms of better employee communications (thus, more efficiency)? Fewer landlines? Shout out with any insights, social media experts/gurus/ninjas/black belts/charlatans! With the benefits of social enterprise tools so obvious, you may wonder why fewer than one in five organizations have adopted them. CompTIA's Robinson says it's because many companies are still a-scared of social. “Confusion over terminology and hesitation to adopt a consumer-driven development inside the enterprise make the social landscape one that still requires definition and justification for many companies,” he said. “Understanding the characteristics of social technologies is a critical starting point for understanding their business use.” So true! Which leads to this free social networking tip for enterprises: Avoid posting pictures of your CEO drunk and/or naked, even on your "internal" social platform. Seriously, I'm like a second-degree black belt on this one.

Chris Nerney writes ITworld's Tech Business Today blog. Follow Chris on Twitter at @ChrisNerney. For the latest IT news, analysis and how-tos, follow ITworld on Twitter, Facebook, and Google+.

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