There's a new survey out today from Jive Software that examines the state of the social business market. The biggest takeaway from the results? Executives understand the importance of social in business today, but the average knowledge worker still hasn't completely bought in.

The Social Business Index

The Social Business Index is Jive's new annual survey of businesses on the state of social business today. The survey was conducted with 901 US knowledge workers (301 executives, 301 working millennials and 300 general knowledge workers) by Penn Schoen Berland.

The purpose of the index is to provide a benchmark of where the social business market is and how it is changing every year.

According to Adam Mertz, Product Marketing Manager at Jive Software, the social business software market is consolidating quickly and the company wanted to step back and do a broad market survey to see where businesses are at today.

Executives Get Social

The biggest takeaway of this survey is that executives completely agree that social technology is changing the way business gets done. And these executives not only believe that, they are using social software regularly in both their work and personal lives.

Jive_SocialBusiness.jpg Social Platforms will change the way business is done

It's not surprising that millennials agree, after all they have grown up with social in the consumer space and they expect to see these tools in their work environment.

However, it's also interesting to note that despite this buy-in, most of their organizations still don't have a centralized social strategy:

Jive_SocialStrategy.jpg Social Strategy in organizations

Only 17% of executives think their company is ahead with their social strategy, 33% think they are behind. Why do you think the numbers are like this if executives understand the importance of social?

Mertz believes that organizations are dabbling, but haven't approached their social strategy holistically for the company. Part of this is because the technology is changing so fast, it's hard to know what to use. But it's also because they are still trying to wrap their heads around all the different messages and strategies being offered in the market. There's almost too much information and it's difficult to know what the right approach is.

Knowledge Workers Aren't There Yet

So executives get social and understand it's going to be an important part of their business, but what about knowledge workers? Outside of millennials, the survey shows that these workers don't quite believe social is that important.

If that's really the case, what does it mean for getting adoption? These are the workers who really need to embrace the social strategies and technologies implemented for an organization to be successful. Mertz believes that organizations must help knowledge workers leverage new technologies but not take them completely out of their comfort zone (the tools they already use regularly).

Email Isn't Going Anywhere

For me, the other big takeaway from this survey is that email is here to stay for a long time. According to the survey, email usage has increased (61% of knowledge workers said this), although it is not seen an effective use of time.

Jive_workEffectiveness.jpg Effectiveness of work

In addition, other processes and tools were said to be hampering business, as shown in the chart above.

So if email is here to stay, then social software needs to find ways to integrate it and help reduce this information overload that many complain about. IBM's approach to integrating email into the activity stream is one. Of course, then we simply run the risk of information overload within our social systems.

Mertz says we need to reduce the noise and proactively filter what is relevant based on who the person is, their connections and the work they do. Connecting email into the social system will have to be a part of that.

Social Will Drive Business Performance

Respondents were asked what value they have seen or expect to see from their social business strategy:


Knowledge workers aren't depicted here because they don't see the value (other than the millennials). The key values according to executives are in revenue & sales, and increased customer loyalty and service levels.

The key to all of this is that executives and knowledge workers continue to not be on the same page when it comes to the value of social software and a social business strategy. This needs to change for organizations to be truly successful when implementing strategies. If the knowledge workers are not on board, adoption of internal tools will be low and external strategies will suffer because they won't be treated seriously by employees.

There are other interesting findings in Jive's Social Business Index, check them out for yourself. It will be interesting to see where executives and knowledge workers are next year when the survey is repeated.