IDC finds increasing use of social media tools in the enterprise

End of last week, IDC published the results of a study that looked at the impact of Web 2.0, social media, etc. on business and the way people work. The research company looked at the “intersection of Web 2.0, Enterprise 2.0 and collaboration”.

The main finding, as IDC puts it: “Social business goes mainstream in the “enterprise”.

According to IDC the emergence of the social web has a significant impact on the way businesses work and interact with their customers, partners, etc. And all this implies significant changes in terms of company culture and processes.

The survey found that 57% of U.S. workers use social media business purposes, at least once a week.

Of course this does not mean that now suddenly most of the workers are actively participating in the social media marketing efforts of their company. It does mean that social media have penetrated deep into the way people and businesses function and work.

Regardless of the data, this seems quite obvious. I mean, look at how you use a social network like LinkedIn. Is it for fun? Or look at how you might be using social tools to detect trends, find information about customers and competitors (and the entire ecosystem of your company) etc.

That’s one of the reasons why Social CRM is such a “hot topic”: because it allows workers to monitor the social activities of their customers, which is a strong addition to more traditional views on the customer. And all this by simply linking the social media accounts of customers and partners with their data in the Social CRM application.

However, the customer is certainly not the only reason why enterprises and workers increasingly adopt social media. On the contrary, marketing and sales are not the main reasons why workersuse social media.

The IDC study found three different types of companies when it comes to these developments: the social denyer, the accidental socialite and the socially aware.

Why do workers use consumer social tools for business purposes?

A remarkable, yet fully understandable finding, is that  15% of the surveyed workers, and I quote, “reported using a consumer social tool instead of corporate-sponsored social tools for business purposes”.

The reasons are obvious but at the same time a warning to developers of enterprise social tools and managers of ‘socially aware’ companies.

Why do workers use consumer social tools for business purposes? Because they are easy to use, they already know them because they use them for personal purposes, and they are low-cost.

The study further found that the main reason why American workers use social media tools for business purposes is to gain knowledge and ask questions to a community.

Marketers (obviously) are the first and main users of social media but IDC found that social media tools are penetrating more and more into other departments. Especially executive managers and IT should be mentioned here.