Why today’s businesses need enterprise social


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People today are more connected than ever before. The growth of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, combined with the rise of social technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, has turned the world into a global community that gives users instant access to information, makes it easy for them to communicate about everything from products to politics, and facilitates collective action.

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Why today’s businesses need enterprise social

  1. 1. Work Like a Network: Why Today’s Businesses Need Enterprise Social Introduction People today are more connected than ever before. The growth of mobile devices such as smartphones and tablets, combined with the rise of social technologies such as Facebook, Twitter, and LinkedIn, has turned the world into a global community that gives users instant access to information, makes it easy for them to communicate about everything from products to politics, and facilitates collective action. Worldwide, there are now more mobile devices than people,1 and those devices are in constant use. People who own smartphones check them an average of 150 times a day, often to stay connected to some of the 1.8 billion2 other people around the world who are also on social networks. Add in portable computers, tablets, and other mobile devices, and it’s easy to see that the world has become a giant network. Your customers are part of that trend, relying on the speed and flexibility of their own networks to make decisions on the go. Although 91 percent of mobile users often go online simply to socialize,3 social networking is much more than just another way to keep in touch with friends and family. Today, half of all consumers use a mobile device to research products and reviews4 before making a purchase. They rely heavily on social networks and peer recommendations to inform their buying decisions, and quickly share their complaints with the world if they have a bad experience. By the time your customers contact you directly, whether by walking into your physical location or accessing your web site, they are already 70 percent through the buying process.5 What it comes down to is this: Your networked customers expect more from your business. They want faster responses, personalized service, and better experiences. How is your business adapting to this networked world? Chances are your employees are not as connected and informed as your customers—at least not at work—but imagine the possibilities if they were. Information would no longer get trapped inside unconnected systems or delayed by broken communication channels, and your employees would be more productive. On average, knowledge workers today spend 20 percent of their time—one entire day every week—searching for information internally.6 If your employees were networked, most of that wasted time could be spent on real work. As a result, decision-making would speed up and exchanging information would become easier and more streamlined, which could sharpen the focus of your business and increase its competitive edge. How social technologies can help business leaders solve problems What if you could apply the power of social networking to your business? What if you could make the right information instantly available without time-consuming searches, keep your workers connected no matter where they are located, enable productive conversations among your employees, customers, and partners, and empower everyone in your organization to make better decisions faster? What if you 1 1 Cisco, 2013 2 eMarketer, 2013 3 Ruder Finn, 2011 4 ATG Web Commerce, 2011 5 Chief Marketer, 2012 6 Interact, 2013
  2. 2. and everyone associated with your company could work like a network? How could that change help you, as a business leader, address some of your most serious challenges? Employee disengagement Engaging employees—and keeping them engaged—is one of the biggest challenges that business leaders currently face. According to the Gallup organization,7 companies whose employees are engaged have significantly higher productivity, profitability, and customer ratings. They also experience lower turnover, less absenteeism, and fewer safety incidents. Engaged employees are enthusiastic about their jobs and committed to their work, and they are the ones most likely to drive innovation, growth, and revenue. It is the engaged workers who build most of the new products and services, come up with most of the innovative ideas, and create almost all of their company’s new customers. Yet according to Gallup, only 13 percent of employees worldwide are engaged at work, while 63 percent are “not engaged” and 24 percent are “actively disengaged.” Workers who are not engaged have basically checked out. They may devote time to their jobs, but they bring no energy or passion to their work. Actively disengaged workers are negative about their work, potentially hostile toward their organizations, and often oppose what their engaged coworkers are trying to accomplish. Active employee disengagement is not a small problem. Not only does it undermine the productivity and potential success of individual companies, it also creates a huge drain on economies worldwide. In the United States alone, for example, Gallup estimates that active disengagement costs the nation $450 billion to $550 billion every year. For companies to thrive, business leaders must find ways to help their employees feel engaged and invested in their work, and then build on their unique strengths to help them reach their full potential. Inefficient collaboration How important is collaboration to a company’s success? More than two-thirds of chief information officers (CIOs) from top-performing companies see internal collaboration and communication as the keys to innovation, according to a report by IBM.8 Even so, there are many challenges that can make effective collaboration hard to achieve. Geographic, functional, and information silos within organizations often make it difficult for coworkers to communicate and collaborate efficiently, and for teams to work together to get things done. Employees in one department may not know what is happening in another, and team members may be located in different offices, different cities, or different parts of the world. In addition, functional groups, such as Sales, Marketing, Human Resources, and so on, frequently use different systems or software programs that apply only to their roles in the organization, and data often gets trapped inside those specialized systems and applications. To complicate matters further, many companies now employ workers from three generations, each with different work styles and communication preferences. According to Deloitte, baby boomers value person-to-person communication and relationships, while millennials prefer working from home. Millennials like spontaneous, multimedia communication, while gen-Xers prefer email. These generational differences can create disconnects that may contribute to employee and team 7 The State of the Global Workplace: Employee Engagement Insights for Business Leaders Worldwide, Gallup, 2013 8 2011 Global CIO Study, IBM, 2011 2
  3. 3. disengagement. Yet regardless of which generation they’re from, within five years 40 percent of workers will be contingent employees or located outside the office.9 Even the mechanics of collaboration are difficult. According to McKinsey, workers spend 61 percent of their work week reading and replying to email, searching for information, scheduling meetings, communicating with team members and so on.10 Meanwhile, collaborating with partners, suppliers, and other people outside your business poses many of the same difficulties as collaborating internally. All of these collaboration challenges can have a negative effect on productivity—and on your business. Industry analyst firm IDC estimates that inefficient collaboration accounts for an average loss of 21.3 percent in an organization’s total productivity each year. IDC also points out that for a company with 1,000 employees, eliminating these collaboration challenges would be equivalent to hiring 213 new employees. Businesses today need to do all they can to enable better team collaboration. They simply can’t afford the disconnects between people and systems that lead to inefficiency, miscommunication, and lost productivity. Sustaining business growth Economic recovery has been slow in the years since the global recession that began in December 2007. Attracting new customers and increasing revenue has proved challenging for many organizations, and sustaining business growth is made more difficult by competition from new players who are disrupting traditional markets. Competitive disruption begins when your customers’ needs exceed what you can deliver. When that happens, your customers will find a company that can meet their needs. Take the case of Blockbuster as an example. Blockbuster had a highly successful video-rental service, with 9,000 stores nationwide where customers would come in, rent two or three VHS cassettes or DVDs, and take them home. But then Netflix came up with the idea of delivering DVDs by mail, and later introduced video streaming, which allowed consumers an inexpensive way to get all of the video entertainment they wanted without leaving home. Blockbuster was slow to respond to the new threat, and within a relatively short time the company was bankrupt and had to close its remaining stores. To avoid this kind of competitive disruption, companies must be able to respond more quickly, work and make decisions faster, communicate better, and collaborate more nimbly than their competitors. And to do that, they need the right tools. Solution – Work like a network with enterprise social technologies Enterprise social technologies empower companies to work like a network, connecting individuals to a dynamic network of people and information, and enabling companies to approach their business in new ways. When you work like a network, you’re able to listen to what matters, quickly adapt to changing customer needs and market conditions, and grow your business through better collaboration, faster decision-making, targeted innovation, and personalized experiences. 9 Intuit, 2013 10 The Social Economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies, McKinsey Global Institute, 2012 3
  4. 4. Listen Important conversations don't happen exclusively in the office. To keep your finger on the pulse of your business, you need to be where your employees, customers, and partners are, so you can listen to and learn from their changing needs. When you work like a network, you’re able to listen to the conversations that really matter to your business, both inside and outside your organization. With enterprise social technologies, you can identify business opportunities and other important issues outside your organization as soon as they happen—and quickly assess how they may affect your business. Enterprise social lets you embed social insights with your customer relationship management (CRM) system and track products, brands, competitors, and campaigns in real time to gain a true understanding of your customers and your business across the global social network. The technology will scour social networks and then analyze the data and present it to you in easy-to-read charts and graphs. These visuals can help you spot emerging trends, track marketing campaigns, respond to service issues before they escalate, gain insights about your competitors, and develop a clearer view of your business. Enterprise social technologies also give individuals in your organization greater visibility into other departments and locations inside your business. It increases employee engagement by giving everyone in your organization a voice and enabling them to participate in cross-company conversations where they can offer opinions and share ideas. According to Yammer, workers who use enterprise social experience 76 percent more visibility into other company departments or locations, and 80 percent are more informed about what is happening inside their organization.11 Adapt As important as it is for business leaders to be able to listen to the relevant conversations taking place inside and outside their organizations, it’s even more important that they adapt quickly and make smarter decisions based on what they hear about the needs of their customers, partners, suppliers, and employees. Enterprise social technologies increase team alignment, enable teams to self-organize and focus through collaborative workspaces, and ensure that team members can make informed decisions and quickly respond to changes. They also enable team members to collaborate on documents in real time, no matter which applications they are in. Organizations realize the full potential of social collaboration by leveraging the people, knowledge, and content that reside in their networks. Enterprise social helps companies engage and tap into their entire network. According to McKinsey, 71 percent of business leaders report that enterprise social tools increase the speed of knowledge access.12 Enterprise social sometimes offers a “groups” feature that unifies people, conversations, and content. Groups can be set up around anything—an office location or subsidiary, a department such as Marketing or Operations, a cross-functional project team, or simply an idea—to enable open conversations and collaboration. But they also go a step further by bringing in email, team sites, calendaring, and real-time functionality to provide a more complete collaboration experience than you would have in any single application. Within such groups, team members can work together seamlessly, and companies that use enterprise social technologies report a 37 percent increase in project collaboration.13 4 11 Business Insights, Yammer, 2013 12 McKinsey & Company, 2013 13 Inside Communication, 2012
  5. 5. Because groups in enterprise social make people, conversations, and content persistent and bring together all services, members can work with each other however they prefer, knowing that they are addressing the same people, participating in the same conversation, and working with the same files, even if they are working in different applications. Groups are open by default to enhance discoverability and sharing, but they can be made private as necessary to ensure that users have the privacy and control they need. Enterprise social also includes external networks that allow you to get feedback from partners, suppliers, and customers – in real time. By easily communicating with people outside your company, you can respond quickly to changes. And just as efficient internal collaboration provides enhanced experiences for customers and employees, better external collaboration increases customer, partner, and supplier satisfaction. In fact, a Yammer survey14 found that networked companies—those who use enterprise social—experienced a 20 percent improvement in supplier, partner, and customer satisfaction. Grow The effective use of enterprise social can spark innovation across an organization, enabling a company to develop better products and services and get to market faster. Enterprise social can break down communication barriers across cultures, geographies, and organizational levels to accelerate innovation. This ultimately inspires employees to think more creatively and helps your business take new ideas to market faster. Ninety-three percent of business leaders agree that enterprise social tools stimulate innovation within their companies,15 and executives report that, on average, enterprise social enabled them to cut launch schedules by 20 percent.16 Enterprise social also helps you deliver better customer experiences that increase demand for your products and services and strengthen customer loyalty for your brand. With enterprise social, you can deliver outstanding customer experiences by monitoring brand presence and tracking strategic initiatives across marketing, sales, and customer service. The end result of all that innovation, faster times to market, and improved customer experiences is that enterprise social can help you grow your business significantly. According to McKinsey, enterprise social networks currently have the potential to unleash $1.3 trillion in annual global business value.17 5 Ready to work like a network? It should be clear by now that enterprise social technologies have the power to transform the way companies do business and to deliver real value—from providing better communication and collaboration to sparking innovation and improving customer experiences. The comprehensive approach that Microsoft takes to enterprise social is unmatched, providing seamless social experiences across the familiar applications that people already use – all delivered on an 14 Yammer Business Trends Customer Survey, 2013 15 Red River, 2013 16 McKinsey & Company, 2014 17 McKinsey Global Institute, 2013
  6. 6. enterprise-grade platform. Put more simply, our vision for enterprise social is to empower companies to work like a network. Learn more about how Microsoft can help your company work like a network at www.enterprisesocial.com. 6