For the third year in a row, research firm IDC has ranked IBM number one in worldwide market share for enterprise social software. According to IDC's analysis of 2011 revenue, IBM grew faster than its competitors and nearly two times faster than the overall market, which grew approximately 40 percent.
The enterprise social platforms market is expected to reach $4.5 billion by 2016, representing growth of 43 percent over the next four years, according to IDC. IBM is well positioned, with more than 35 percent of Fortune 100 companies already using its social software offerings, including eight of the top 10 retailers and banks.
We caught up this week with Heidi Ambler, IBM director of social software, to discuss IBM's view of the enterprise social software world, and to ask her advice for organizations interested in becoming strategically more social.
We've seen tremendous adoption of social enterprise software, yet it seems there are still miles to go.
Ambler: That's very true. According to IBM's 2012 CEO Study, only 16 percent of CEOs today are using social business platforms to connect with customers, but that number is poised to spike to 57 percent within the next three to five years.
Although face-to-face contact will remain the most prevalent form of customer interaction, CEOs expect a step-change in the use of social media. Over half expect social channels to be a primary way of engaging customers within five years.
Taking a step back, how do you define a 'Social Business'?
Organizations can quickly see that a social business isn't a company that just has a Facebook page and a Twitter account. A social business means that every department in the organization uses social networking the way it uses any other tool and channel to do its job.
It's an organization that integrates social networking tools into its traditional business processes to fundamentally impact how work gets done to create business value. The answer? Embed social into business processes and in everyday applications.
What do you see as the barriers to broader adoption of enterprise social networking?
Based on IBM's work with many customers from all around the world, from a variety of different industries, helping them embrace enterprise social networking, we have identified a few barriers to adoption today.
These include not being sure where to start, having a lack of interest or knowledge, or employees who don't personally see the value in social networking strategies. Another barrier is when there is limited or no involvement from management.
How can a business, large or small, make the transition to being more social?
In order to be a successful social business, an organization must promote a business culture of transparency and trust. It must work to encourage a culture of sharing, which ultimately helps employees collaborate and find and share information faster.
Success requires promoting a work environment that thrives on sharing information. Consider instituting guidelines for business social networking which showcases the organization's interest and dedication to social collaborating.
Do you have any closing suggestions for enterprises making the leap to become more social?
Social business is a strategic approach to shaping a business culture, highly dependent upon transparency and trust from executive leadership.
The corporate strategy for being a successful social business has to include business process design, risk management, leadership development, financial controls, and the use of business analytics to assess effectiveness.
A key part of the solution is ensuring your business leaders are engaged and on board from the beginning. Social business success needs to be considered as a strategic imperative to really transform an organization.