There is always a lot of focus at the end of the year on the impact — or lack thereof — of one technology or another. But the thing that is most often overlooked is the relevance of the people and processes. The simple fact is that most new technology doesn’t live up to its potential because the people and processes that need to adjust to its introduction aren’t ready for the magnitude of change involved.
Nowhere is that more apparent than in the realm of social media. A recent survey of 1,160 business and IT professionals shows that while 46 percent of the organizations increased their investments in social technologies in 2012, only 22 percent believed that managers are prepared to incorporate social tools and approaches into their processes. Moreover, two-thirds of respondents said they were not sure they sufficiently understood the impact these technologies would have on their organizations over the next three years.
It’s little wonder then that as we enter 2013 so many organizations are wrestling with the return on investment in social media and networking technologies. Most businesses today are comfortable using social media to send outbound marketing messages. But according to Eric Lesser, research director at the IBM Institute for Business Value, most businesses as yet have not fully appreciated the cultural impact these technologies will have on their processes. In fact, one of the primary benefits of social media and networking technologies, says Lesser, is that they help provide transparency into processes and what people are actually doing on a daily business. That creates a unique opportunity to improve those processes or, when necessary, identify exceptions to the rules that govern those processes.
Lesser says that the businesses that take the time to incorporate those changes into their organizational fabric will not only be more competitive in 2013, they will be communicating using a medium that an ever growing percentage of their customers are increasingly using every day. And if, as the saying goes, “the medium is the message,” there is increasingly only going to be one way to effectively deliver the message. But before any of that can happen, most organizations still need to first get comfortable using a new medium to not only chat with each other, but manage a business process.