In the past few years, social has gone from being a consumer phenomenon to an enterprise opportunity. But many companies are struggling with how to implement strategies and realize ROI from their social investments.
The new IBM Center for Applied Insights study, "Charting the social universe: Social ambitions drive business impact," found that as many as 74% of social decision makers recognized that a social business uses social technology to foster collaboration among customers, employees and partners, but only 20% felt their companies were truly social.
So how do companies navigate the social journey? The study found that companies adopt social capabilities through five primary social ambitions, or entry points -- distinct clusters of social capabilities aimed at realizing specific business goals.
1. Drive internal and external collaboration
Collaboration is the social starting point for many organizations, using capabilities such as enterprise social networks and collaborative applications to increase employee productivity and social media marketing to increase customer loyalty and advocacy. These capabilities are most often deployed via cloud for scalability and also via mobile apps for accessibility
2. Build, educate and protect the workforce
To optimize workforce talent, this second ambition taps into capabilities such as recruiting, training, policy and security intelligence. The study found that 82% of companies surveyed already use social networks to recruit talent, making social a key part of recruiting strategy. And companies are also using social technology to train and keep the workforce informed
3. Understand and engage customers
While many organizations are starting to leverage capabilities such as customer analytics, social analytics and social CRM, most are not yet using that data to influence key engagement decisions. 70% of those surveyed who have deployed social analytics aren't using them yet to influence decisions making this an ambition with untapped potential.
4. Mine community expertise
By leveraging capabilities such as onboarding, expert locaters and crowdsourcing apps, organizations are mining community expertise to increase employee productivity and optimize the workforce. 43% of companies rely on employee evangelists to kick-start social adoption, also relying on mobile-enabled social apps for enablement.
5. Improve business processes
This is the most advanced social ambition, where organizations seek to embed social capabilities in their business processes, from accounting to supply chain management. 43% of companies surveyed set enterprise systems to default to embedded social capabilities. The most complex of the five, this social ambition requires a lot more strategic planning as well as buy-in from stakeholders across the organization.
The study also revealed several key lessons that all companies should consider on their social journey, including pursuing an enterprise-wide strategy, continuous implementation, stakeholder engagement and tracking ROI.
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