About two-thirds of businesses are using social technology for marketing and other such purposes -- but without integration into their businesses processes. Only 37 percent expect social media will be used regularly across their entire business over the next two years, and only 9 percent see it as being completely integrated. About half project that its integration will be specific to departments or projects.

Those are key takeaways in a new report from AIIM, a global non-profit organization of information professionals. Entitled "Social in the Flow – Transforming Processes and Sharing Knowledge", the report examines the integration and acceptance of social technologies into businesses. It makes a distinction between social technology adoption for some uses like marketing, which it found to be strong, and the integration of social tech into business processes, which it said “is still in its infancy.”

Core Business Processes

AIIM noted that, while the social connection of teams, remote offices and shared workspaces has already become common in businesses, “the real benefit” of social businesses is derived from a closer integration of social tools -- activity streams, video conferencing, instant messaging, profile pages and other techniques -- into core business processes, such as most functions of project management, customer support or team building.

Doug Miles, AIIM director of market intelligence, said in a statement that “nearly half of organizations do not have any official strategies for social content creation and collaboration.” He noted that this lack of attention is resulting in “missed opportunities” for faster response and better knowledge-sharing in product development, recruitment, help desk, employee relations and project management.

The top priorities among the respondents for integration of social tools are customer support and marketing, at 59 percent and 58 percent respectively. More than half of those surveyed say staff communication is a popular use of social applications, such as a company notice board or forum. Fifty-one percent point to collaborative document authoring as a priority, 50 percent say event promotion, 49 percent note brand management and 44 percent cite customer feedback.

AIIM Report.png

Collaboration, Knowledge Sharing

More than 40 percent see increased collaboration and knowledge sharing as the biggest benefits from integrating social tech into business processes, and, for B2C organizations, 40 percent say that more effective marketing and sales will be among the rewards.

The study also found that governmental organizations have been particularly slow to adopt social media, and the adoption that has occurred has largely been in government-to-citizen interaction, rather than within government’s business processes.

AIIM has some advice to businesses on ways to move forward toward becoming social businesses. It suggests that stakeholders consider all social channels, internal or external, and don’t look only at marketing or corporate communications when trying to find the business values of social technology integration. Additionally, it noted that a map of organizational responsibilities for social interaction could be useful in allocating resources.

IBM, Tapscott Group Research In Line with AIIM

The report also suggested that guidelines and policies would best tie social workflow to business values and benefits, and said the integration of social tech into business processes should also be examined from the point-of-view of technical and cultural impact, scalability, cost of integration and deployment time and effort.

The AIIM report generally coincides with at least two recent studies by other researchers. For instance, a recent report from IBM found that that 46 percent of the organizations surveyed had increased spending on social technologies, but only 22 percent thought their managers were ready to use those tools and the resulting data.

The report, "The Business of Social Business: What Works and How It’s Done", also recommended steps that businesses can take to facilitate the cultural change required for the adoption of social technologies within their business activities and processes, such as understanding the business benefits of social data.

Another report, "Rethinking Analytics for the Social Enterprise" by The Tapscott Group, pointed out that social businesses need to be able to manage, analyze and discern the benefits from the new kinds of data it is receiving from networked intelligence, including vast amounts of data from social technologies.