Does your organization get support from the top for social business initiatives -- or not?

When we caught up with Heidi Ambler, director of IBM Social business, earlier this month, she said that oftentimes an organization’s culture holds back social business initiatives. Is your C-Suite truly invested in and supportive of enterprise-wide social collaboration?

And what about the customer facing side of social? Are your senior leaders enabling you to explore comprehensive social campaigns there? 

Report: Executives Are Investing in Social

A report released today aims to gauge how organizations are doing in social business on a holistic level -- from daily business operations and customer marketing and sales to customer service, research and employee communications and collaboration.

In one category of the report, the news is good for those hoping for executive support -- 67% of executives say it's "very important" for their organization to become what survey organizers define as a "socially enabled enterprise.”

The Oracle study, released today at the Social Media Today Social Shakeup in Atlanta in partnership with Social Media Today and Leader Networks, included more than 900 marketing and IT leaders and asked how they leverage social technologies and practices.

Most of the findings were not shocking:

  • More companies are finding social business initiatives important to a company’s success
  • More companies are likely to consider customer satisfaction the number one metric for their social business initiatives
  • More companies anticipate significant growth in the use of insights gained from social platforms
  • Growth in social platform utilization has a significant or transformational impact on the way that one-third of respondents interact with customers

Why This Survey?

Where social business initiatives are emerging, so, too, are reports and surveys about them. So why this particular survey today from Oracle?

We asked Vanessa DiMauro, CEO of Leader Networks, which co-sponsored the survey. She said the respondents themselves -- who she called true “decision-makers” in their organization -- make this survey unique and valuable and offer potential to turn data into action.

“One of the critical differences here,” DiMauro told CMSWire this morning, “is the size and focus of this study. We had 923 respondents, and we screened out the small companies and had only mid- to large-sized organizations. We took out all the organizations with fewer than 100 employees. And we only looked at marketing and IT leaders. Anyone not in marketing or IT was pulled out of this study. It’s really a study of decision-makers in large organizations. We pulled out people who don’t have direct-reports. It has to meaningful.”

Survey Takeaways

When asked about telling data in the report, DiMauro said it's the responses when survey-takers were asked what their organizations typically do with insights gathered from social platforms. More than 60% said in the future they will be using them departmentally to impact their goals. About half share them across their departments in hopes they are used. Only 32% now use them in product development and R&D, but 45% expect that to happen in the future.

For businesses, there has been an “enormous leap,” DiMauro said, in the transformation from social media marketing awareness and branding platforms to actual emphasis on core operations.

“It’s a dramatic shift,” she said. “Businesses are now starting to look at ROI and impact on R&D and product development” in relationship with social business.

The future of social success, she said, is beginning to develop useful metrics that support a valuable business case and demonstrate ROI.

Knowing if You're Social

So what does it mean to be a “socially enabled enterprise”? Oracle says in its report today it’s an “organization with social capabilities woven into the fabric of its daily business operations, from consumer marketing and sales, to customer service and research, to employee communications and collaboration.”

DiMauro added that only the businesses that focus social business holistically -- on customer and employee needs -- can find themselves falling into that Oracle definition. Knowing who you are -- and what your brand’s health is all about -- is also important in determining social strategies.

“It depends on the context of the organization,” DiMauro said. “Organizations need to remember there is no black and white. An organization like Zappos and a manufacturing company should not have the same goals around social engagement. Social business strategies need to be aligned with the mission of the organization to support business processes.”

But Where’s My ROI?

According to industry stakeholders at last week’s Social Media & Web Analytics Innovation Enterprise in Boston #SMWA, demonstrating ROI, at least in the digital marketing side of social, is a major challenge.

Even one vendor himself admitted this much about web analytics and social media to help demonstrate ROI and convince executives to invest: there is no one perfect solution.