Despite the growing popularity of social business within our organisations, a great many social projects fail to achieve the results expected of them. After all, Gartner released a report earlier this year suggesting that as many as 80% of social business projects fail to achieve results.
The report “Social Business: Shifting Out of First Gear” from Deloitte and the MIT Sloan Management Review, suggests that the main problem for social business is a lack of overall strategy, with a poor value proposition not far behind.
The report goes on to highlight the three stages that most organisations are at in their transition to social business, with some of the hurdles they’re facing along the way.
Some 52% of respondents regarded themselves as early stage adopters of social business. For them, a lack of strategy was the clear winner when it came to obstacles to overcome. This, coupled with a lack of clear evidence and poor managerial understanding meant getting off the ground was proving hard.
“Left unaddressed, these barriers can lead to daunting odds,” the report said. “Gartner estimates that 80% of social business projects between now and 2015 will yield disappointing results because of a lack of leadership support and a narrow view of social as a technology rather than a business driver.”
So how can organisations get round this problem? The report suggests that your social business project needs to be strongly led by a member of the executive team. They should then:
- Establish clear business value
- Identify some small problem areas that social can help with
- Experiment with small scale solutions before scaling up
The last point is particularly important. Experimenting on a small scale allows you to fail without sinking the entire project by incurring large financial and political costs. This also allows you to get to grips with measurement so you devise metrics that really matter to your business.
“When seeking funding for a social initiative, for example, proposals should link the investment to what leaders are concerned about,” the report said. “Once leaders see that link in action, they are likely to place greater value in social tools and technologies.”
Those that make it past this early phase enter what Deloitte called the developing stage. 31% of organisations fell into this group, where social business struggled to grow due to competing priorities and a lack of overall strategy. To help overcome these difficulties, the report suggests a few potential strategies:
- Develop a clear social business strategy that includes compliance and security issues
- Ensure that the project has adequate people and resources to implement it
- Assign an executive level project leader
- Roll pilot projects out across the enterprise
An important part of this phase is learning some of the lessons from the small pilot projects conducted earlier. These projects will not only give you lessons about how best to approach the role out, but they will also give you a team of advocates to help spread the word.
“Organizations launching a social initiative, for example, can start with one or two metrics tied to a business objective,” the report said. “After tracking for a period of time, the company can build momentum by steadily adding new metrics and observing patterns in the data.”
The final stage represents the relatively few companies that are nearing full social business status. Just 17% of respondents identified themselves with this phase, but one thing that stood out for the group was that they nearly all had executive leadership of everything social within their organisations.
The report recommends that organisations in this mature stage continue to monitor the marketplace to ensure they are abreast of the latest changes in social trends and technologies, whilst extending their social business strategy into new areas as opportunities arise. A continual process of experimentation and pilots can allow such organisations to continually learn and improve what they do.
You can access the report for free here