McKinsey Quarterly has just published its fifth annual survey on the ways in which organisations are using social tools and technologies. There were over 4,200 executive level respondents to the global survey representing a wide range of business sectors and organisational size.
The report suggests that social tools (social networking; blogs; video sharing; RSS feeds; wikis; podcasts; microblogging) have now reached a critical mass. 72% of respondents reported that at least one social technology had been deployed in their organisations. Although the rates of adoption vary between sectors, 62% of respondents in the lowest performing sector (energy) reported that they were deploying at least one social technology tool.
A small group of respondents reported high levels of benefit, whether they were using the tools for internal communication or for external communication with stakeholders. For some organisations, the use of social technologies in customer and partner outreach was so sophisticated that the boundaries of the organisation itself were becoming blurred. McKinsey calls these ‘extended enterprises’. However, the survey also suggests that it is hard for organisations to ‘move upwards’ on levels of adoption and it is quite easy to ‘slide backwards’.
The tools are being used to support a range of business processes, including scanning the external environment; project management; finding new ideas and allocating resources. When it comes to the predicting the ways in which the tools could be used in the future, the respondents thought that, with fewer constraints on social technologies, boundaries between employees, vendors, customers and other stakeholders would blur. Other predicted changes included the flattening of organisational hierarchies, improved financial transparency and an increase in self organised teams.
McKinsey concludes that organisations need to be prepared for further technological disruption and be prepared to create change rather than being led by it.