Over 3,500 executives responded to a McKinsey & Company report on the networked enterprise, and not only are social tools now mainstream at those companies, the leaders are seeing outsize results.

While 83 percent of the companies involved in the survey use social media technologies, the biggest benefits seem to be a bit more difficult to realize now that the initial wave has hit.

Adoption Up, Other Benefits Level Off

More companies are using social technology overall, up 11 percent from 72 percent in 2011, and nearly two times more than in 2009. Additionally, two technologies that weren't included on previous reports, videoconferencing and document collaboration, were actually two of the most popular.

Companies use social technology internally 73 percent of the time, use it to interact with customers 74 percent of the time, and use it to connect with partners 48 percent of the time. While the percentage of social interactions with customers is up, the number of customers interacting with companies via social was only 38 percent, so adoption there is still growing. 

Some benefits of social usage have leveled off or even gone down in the last year, but more companies cited cost cutting benefits in 2012. But, the fully networked companies, those that saw outsize benefits of social, grew from just three percent of companies in 2011 to 10 percent in 2012.


Video sharing and blogging are two of the fastest growing social tools in use today.

Risks + Rewards of the Cloud

Forty-eight percent of those surveyed said their companies had employees with mobile access, and 65 percent said their companies were using at least one social technology on mobile. This means nearly as many people are using social on mobile devices as they are on laptops and desktops. Fifty-two percent said workers were using social on nonmobile devices, up from 46 percent in 2011.

All that social data flying around makes for some deep analytics opportunities, and about 33 percent of companies said they were using social to respond right away to employee or customer concerns. That number was roughly 25 percent for partners. Thirty-three percent also were analyzing customer's social data, with 19 percent using the data for predictive analytics.

Nevertheless, a majority of executives said they see leaks of confidential information as a risk of social usage. Sixty percent, however, said the rewards outweigh the risks. Executives said social contributes 20 percent to revenue increases and 18 percent cost improvements, for example.

In fact, those companies using a higher percentage of technologies, (six or more; see above image), saw a 32 percent contribution to revenue and 26 percent contribution to cost cutting benefits. This kind of data does not make it any easier for companies to determine if social is good for making money, but it certainly seems headed in that direction, the report found.

Companies are recommended to enable more mobile access for employees, and to get started on new technology early so the benefits can be realized sooner.