Social Media as a Business Communications Tool
In its infancy, social media was adopted by teenagers and used to share personal opinions. Many businesses took their sweet time adopting social media as part of their marketing strategy, supposing it to be a fad. Now that social media has grown up, almost every business has a social media presence, yet many companies still ban its use in the workplace.
Microsoft recently sponsored a study to determine the value of social media as a business tool. This study was conducted by Ipsos and looked at nearly 10,000 information workers from 32 countries. From this study, one of the most telling statistics about the state of social media in business is that "30 percent of companies underestimate the benefits of it and sometimes restrict the use of social tools."
Another predictable-yet-eye opening find is that many employees see an enterprise value to social media, even though the company they work for may not. In the survey, 40% of employees believe that social media can help improve teamwork in the workplace, and 31% of employees believe in social media so strongly that they will happily pay for the tools themselves. This mentality is what's driving the Bring Your Own Device (BYOD) trend we are currently seeing in the workplace.
In the same way that businesses were slow to adopt social media as a marketing tool, so too is the adoption of social media as an office communications tool slowly but surely catching on. This is what Microsoft is betting on as it heavily invests in its own social media offerings for business, namely Lync, Skype, and Yammer. Kurt DelBene, president of Microsoft's Office Division mentioned the enterprise value of social media in a recent statement, "Just as e-mail accelerated the pace of business in the '90s, enterprise social will be the driver of greater agility and transformation in the 21st century workplace."
Deblane then goes on to explain that social media can be a valuable business tool because it allows companies to integrate many of their communication solutions and connect workers in new ways. "As we look ahead at how collaboration and communications continue to evolve, we believe the tools people use today — e-mail, instant messaging, voice, videoconferencing, social — will come together and be deeply integrated into apps in ways that will speed collaboration and truly transform the way people work."
Even though Microsoft sees the potential of social tools in the workplace, many organizations still restrict social media out of concern for productivity and security. In the same way that social media has matured from a gossip tool for teenagers into a powerful marketing platform, we are also seeing social media adapting to address these productivity and security concerns of business.