Social Businesses are becoming the “Dial Tone” of enterprises: Results from a new AIIM Industry Watch

By: In: Records Management and Storage On: Oct 11, 2011
Social Businesses are becoming the “Dial Tone” of enterprises: Results from a new AIIM Industry Watch

In October AIIM released a new Industry Watch research report based on the findings from the AIIM task force led by Andrew McAfee and underwritten in part by Iron Mountain. The task force conducted research with some 400 members of the AIIM community and conducted interviews with management from end-user organizations.

The results were significant. 79% of organizations actively use social business technologies and only 6% specifically discourage its use. And more than half indicated that they either had an enterprise-wide strategy or were actively moving to develop one.

Social business technologies are becoming, in a real sense, the “dial tone” of enterprises in much the same way that email and even the telephone did. While it’s still early for many organizations, an increasing percentage of our respondents indicated that they’re less focused on a hard ROI for these tools and are more likely to consider them as part of infrastructure.

The task force focused on three particular use cases: enterprise questions & answers (Q&A), open innovation, and the interface between sales & marketing. One of the most interesting findings was for the first one. 38% of organizations using some form of enterprise Q&A got half or more of their answers from unexpected sources – people they wouldn’t think to ask because “it’s not their job”. Professor McAfee described an example from NASA where scientists had been working for years to improve prediction of solar flares with not much success. They opened up the problem through the Innocentive social Q&A platform and in a very short period a retired communications engineer had suggested something that dramatically increased both the accuracy and timeliness of the predictive process. And these sorts of serendipitous discovery happen all the time – often when employees are in the break room, or chat in the hallway, or are at lunch or happy hour. Enterprise Q&A tools let these opportunities for discovery scale across geographical and organizational boundaries.

Within organizations using an Open Innovation social platform for ideas and suggestions, the research showed that 48% have successfully surfaced major changes to internal processes and 34% have come up with major changes to external product offerings. It’s the wisdom of the crowds put to real use within those organizations – again, in part because nobody is as smart as everybody and because different people will look at things differently, which can be quite beneficial at times.

Finally, by using specific social collaboration between Sales and Marketing staff, the number of respondents reporting “poor sharing of knowledge and information” drops from 41% of organizations to 8%, and “poor working together” drops from 21% to 4%. This is a dramatic improvement in an area where far too many organizations have issues.

What does all this mean? Well, it means that, as a study last year by McKinsey found, organizations that embrace social business technologies are more profitable, gain market share, and are more successful compared to similar organizations that do not (or that attempt to block social business technologies). It also means that successfully implementing a social business strategy requires more than a Facebook page or an intern tweeting. Organizations must develop a strategy and commit resources to it, just as with any other initiative.

AIIM has developed a social business roadmap to help organizations with that. The roadmap was developed earlier this year and is based on industry approaches, consulting experience, and hands-on implementation and use of the tools. It describes an eight-step approach to implementing a comprehensive social business strategy including selecting and deploying tools, engaging with internal staff and external customers and partners, and of course, governance.

Going to ARMA and interested in hearing more? On Tuesday, Oct. 18th, I will discuss this topic alongside author Garrett M. Graff and Iron Mountain’s Chairman & CEO Richard Reese at Iron Mountain’s “The Future of RIM” forum. Please join us.

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About the author

Jesse Wilkins, AIIM International

Jesse Wilkins, CRM, Information Certified, is the Director, Systems of Engagement, for AIIM International. He has worked in the information management industry for fifteen years as an end user, vendor, and consultant. His areas of expertise include electronic records management, digital preservation, email management, and social business processes and technologies. He is also the co-author of the AIIM Social Business Roadmap and led the development of the AIIM Email Management Certificate Program, the 2009 update to the AIIM ERM Certificate Program, and the AIIM Social Media Governance Certificate Program. For more, go here.