Employee-Business Disconnect on Social Tools Hinders Productivity

A new report from Microsoft finds that while executives are wary of social tools, they are what employees want--and are often already using whether IT knows it or not.

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Wed, May 29, 2013

CIO — Security concerns and productivity loss are the top reasons businesses restrict access to social tools, according to a new study commissioned by Microsoft.

However, while many executives aren't yet on the social bandwagon, 40 percent of employees believe that there isn't enough collaboration in the workplace and that these social tools help foster better teamwork.

Brian Murray, director of enterprise strategy at Microsoft, says that this disconnect has led employees to bring their own technology into the workplace in order to address a changing business environment.

"Freemium products let employees try new tools in small groups before the IT department even knows about them," Murray says. Employees are using these tools to communicate with colleagues; share and review documents; communicate with customers and clients; and grow their professional network, according to the report.

Employees use enterprise social networks to communicate with colleagues, share documents and communicate with customers.

[The How-To Guide for Social Business]

"Work is becoming more global and less routine," Murray says. "People are more dispersed than ever and there's a stronger need to stay connected regardless of location. The workplace is changing, and that's causing tension."

According to the report, in which research firm Ipsos surveyed nearly 10,000 information workers in 32 countries, 34 percent of respondents say their company underestimates the benefits of social technology, and 37 percent say they could perform their jobs better if management backed the use of social tools.

40 percent say that using new technologies makes them more productive at work.

But while employees are enthusiastic about using social tools, IT departments and leaders are still wary: Gartner estimates that 80 percent of enterprise social networks will fail to deliver business value. Where most businesses fail, according to Adam Pisoni, Microsoft's general manager of Yammer, is with developing a social strategy.

"You can't just turn it on and expect a cultural transformation," Pisoni says. "It's a journey of reinvention that requires a strategy and executive commitment and support." To be successful, Pisoni says, you need to weave social into the apps employees use every day.

[How to Use Social Media to Create Business Value]

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