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Social business is important today, and it is expected to be more important in the future, according to a report by the MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte: 18% of global executives say social business is important to their organization today, and 63% say social business will be important in three years:

Social business is defined in the report as those activities that use social media, social software, and social networks to enable more efficient, effective, and mutually useful connections among people, information, and assets.

Below, additional findings from the 2012 Social Business Global Executive Study and Research Project, a report by the MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte.

Media and Tech Leading the Way

Social business appears to be thriving in the media (entertainment, media, and publishing) and tech sectors.

Asked how important social software is to their organizations, execs in the energy and utilities industries were the least enthusiastic (7%), whereas those in the media and tech industries were the most enthusiastic (37% and 29%, respectively):

Size Matters

The largest organizations (those with over 100,000 employees) and the smallest organizations (those with fewer than 1,000 employees) most appreciate the value of social business today.

For example, some 21.2% of organizations with more than 100,000 employees and 21.2% of those with fewer than 100,000 employees perceive value from social software today.

By contrast, 13.6% of those segments in the middle (1,000 to 5,000 employees and 5,000 to 10,000 employees) perceive value from social software today.

The Business Value of Social Software

Execs say social software is helping their companies meet various challenges and cite the following as "important" or "somewhat important" benefits of social software: 

  • Managing customer relationships: 80%
  • Innovating for competitive differentiation: 74%
  • Acquiring and retaining employees: 65%
  • Responding to new competitive threats: 62%
  • Growing revenue: 61%

Keys to Adoption: Vision and Management Support 

Adopting social technologies within an organization requires a clear vision and strong leadership.

Using a weighted, composite scoring system, having a "clear vision for how social media supports business strategy" is cited as most important to adopting social software (receiving a total score of 5,146), followed by "senior management support" (3,979) and the extent to which social is a "good fit with the organization's culture" (2,563).

Among the execs surveyed, employee enthusiasm and employee predisposition to using social software are less important to the adoption of social software (2,067 and 1,950, respectively).

Similarly, the execs also assessed the various obstacles in adopting social technologies, ranking "lack of management understanding" as most problematic (3,050), followed by "no strong business case or proven value" (2,314) and "too many competing priorities" (2,087).

About the data: Findings are from a survey of 3,478 managers of companies located in 115 countries and 24 industries, conducted in the first half of 2012.

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