Burton Group study reveals enterprise social networking priorities

Burton Group principal analyst Mike Gotta recently published the first of six parts of his Enterprise Social Networks Field Research Study. The study aims to determine whether or not social networking has reached critical mass within the enterprise or if the concept is merely buzz.

Burton Group principal analyst Mike Gotta recently published the first of six parts of his Enterprise Social Networks Field Research Study. The study aims to determine whether or not social networking has reached critical mass within the enterprise or if the concept is merely buzz.

The first report in the series, Social Networking within the Enterprise, revealed that many organizations have yet to make a decision on social networking tools and those organizations who have embarked on researching social networking tools are in very early stages of deployment.

According to Gotta the enterprises with which he and his research team spoke were most interested in enterprise social networking metrics and uses cases. And, no matter how enthusiastic the decision-maker was about a social networking deployment, there was always a nagging doubt about effectiveness and results.

The study was conducted from August to November 2008 and Gotta and his team spoke with 21organizations and 65 individuals which, according to Gotta, resulted in more than 1,700 data points. The interviews covered topics such as making the business case, metrics, compliance, talent,generational shifts, community building, technology concerns, and cultural factors.The data showed that there were four general buckets with which people associate social networking:

  • Productivity
  • Collaboration
  • Knowledge Sharing
  • Talent Management

The last bullet -- talent management -- seemed to be pretty high on the minds of those interviewed. According to the report:

Reoccurring business justifications for social networking initiatives were recruiting and retaining a younger workforce with social tools they expect to perform their role, and engaging employees, to help them leverage relationships across the organization to share information and collaborate. As one participant stated, "30% of our workforce is Gen Y now; and by the end of 2010 it will be 50%."

"In down-times, focusing on operational efficiencies is always the first reaction. However, a crisis that can be weathered can also be made much worse internally because of budget slashing tactics and critical breakdowns in employee communications," said Gotta. "Social networking is not about technology and it's not about Facebook -- it's about relationships -- it's about helping your organization be more resilient and more adaptive to changing business and societal conditions."

The full report can be downloaded from the Burton Group site. You can view Gotta's presentation on his findings via BrightTALK.

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