An InformationWeek article makes a daring prediction - companies face the prospect of having to dismantle the traditional corporate structure and organize themselves as social networks! At the same time a McKinsey study found that there's $1.3 trillion in untapped annual value that can be unlocked through social media in the four industries considered for the study: consumer packaged goods, consumer financial services, professional services, and advanced manufacturing.
Together the two reports make a compelling case for enterprises to go the social way. With the galloping popularity of smartphones and tablets and more Millennials entering the workforce it's only a matter of time before the lines between personal and professional communications blur, and the use of social media at the workplace becomes all pervasive. According to a new Social Media and Workplace 2012 Report, released by SilkRoad, 75 percent of all employees were accessing social media from their personal devices at least once a day. Sixty percent admitted to checking their social media profiles multiple times every day.
These trends are inducing organizations to create a social workplace and re-brand themselves as social enterprises. Many companies are already using various social networking platforms as powerful business tools to aid enhanced communication and collaboration at the workplace.
A social workplace impacts various aspects of the business and the employee set-up. For instance, a Gen X, by being able to tweet office updates to a colleague may see great value in terms of transparency and openness that the company demonstrates. Similarly, for a Gen Y, access to social media may help in gaining market intelligence, leading to creative breakthroughs.
Experts believe organizations are already benefiting from early adoption of social media at the workplace -- in terms of engaging with current and prospective customers, sourcing and recruiting talent, and building brand awareness. The McKinsey study, which surveyed 4,200 businesses worldwide, found that of the companies that use social media, 90 percent report some business benefit from using them.
Many companies have begun investing in and implementing social media tools, such as Microsoft's SharePoint to encourage team collaboration. Microsoft's Yammer, Salesforce.com's Chatter, Jive Software and Tibbr, are also witnessing greater traction among major enterprises.
However, even as organizations embrace the concept of the social workplace, the social media implementation can't be equated to a traditional IT implementation. It is important to involve various stakeholders including employees before putting into practice a social media policy and profile. The employees also need to be adequately trained on identifying fraudulent activity on social media and the channels to report it. An ideal social workplace must include and implement best practices and processes for the proper use of social media to create an atmosphere of trust among employees, devoid of rigid restrictions on social media access.