IBM Study: Middle Management Slow on Social Tools Adoption
Midlevel business managers are struggling to embrace new social technologies even though their organizations rapidly are adopting and implementing these tools and capabilities, according to a new IBM (NYSE: IBM) study of some 1,160 businesses and IT professionals.
According to the study, titled, "The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It’s Done," 46 percent of the participants stepped up their social technologies investments in 2012, yet a mere 22 percent said middle management effectively is incorporating the technology into daily use. In other words, businesses are buying social technology but management isn't using it, at least not yet.
For channel partners, the IBM study’s findings are particularly important because they speak to the fact that despite an uptick in businesses taking on social initiatives, many still are fumbling to find real returns on their investments. Partners, in the role of trusted advisers, can help business customers not only to understand and implement social technologies but also to assist marketing and sales efforts for measurable returns. Indeed, more than 65 percent of the respondents in the study said they were uncertain about the impact of social technologies on their organizations over the next three years.
In the report, IBM defines a social business as one that “embeds social technologies into core business processes, and then applies the technologies to drive customer-facing activities such as lead generation, sales and post-sales service.” Only 25 percent of companies in the study believe they are well-prepared to handle cultural changes associated with transitioning from a traditional organization to a social business let alone applying the technology strategically and tactically. Results showed that the key to broadening social business expertise is encouraging behavioral changes that can prompt a wider cultural shift.
There’s another hook here for IBM in the form of ubiquitous business analytics technology. IBM reasons that businesses effectively using social technologies are better equipped to compile, integrate and analyze large data stores and use the information to make faster, more accurate business decisions.
“Businesses are struggling to make sense of the vast amount of data generated from social networks,” said Kevin Custis, IBM Global Business Services vice president and global leader, Social Business and Mobility Services. Central to an organization’s transition to a social business is gaining company-wide support for using social practices, he said.
IBM says it will be talking a lot more about this at its upcoming Connect 2013 conference Jan. 27 – 31, 2013, in Orlando, Fla.