Microsoft Study: 40% of employees see a lack in workplace collaboration

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The management view of the future workplace is still not yet fully evolved to a real social workplace. The main concerns are still loss in productivity and security concerns which still don’t give employees access to social tools. This is the main findings of a new study commissioned by Microsoft. However, employees (40%) still believe that there isn’t enough collaboration in the workplace.

The question managers asking themselves remains whether social tools help foster better teamwork, or not. And whether here lies the disconnect between employees and the management, and where companies should have a look at when they want to detect the reason why employees brought their own technology and software to the modern workplace. Via social networks and testing them out, employees found tools to share content, communicate across business borders and grow business through networking.

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The report with nearly 10,000 respondents in 32 countries states that 34% think their company underestimates the benefits of social technology. The misperception of management versus social tools becomes more obvious when 37% believe they could perform their jobs better if management gave access to the use of social tools.

“Freemium products let employees try new tools in small groups before the IT department even knows about them. Work is becoming more global and less routine. 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.” Microsoft’s Brian Murray, Director Enterprise Strategy, Microsoft.

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Although the perception of employees remains positive about the value of social networks, management stays resistent to change their attitude towards social workplace. Probably as they are backed up by Gartner reports concluding that 80% of enterprise social networks won’t deliver real business value. The Strategy Web would argue that most managers have never thought about getting a deeper insight in a social business strategy, hene the social workplace opportunity.

The question is whether it is just easier for managers staying away from a cultural change and all it’s implications like new technology, training and management coaching? But maybe some managers want to answer this question after reading through this infographic…

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Marketers relying more on blogs in the business world

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Although Facebook and Twitter are highly rated from internet consumers, blogs are the standard approach for marketers in the business world (b2b).

eMarketer just released a study that states 34% of all US companies are running a public blog. The outlook for 2012 is even more promissing: The study projects an increase by 11 points to a total of 45% by 2012. In 2007 only 16% of companies used a blog for their communication strategy.

“Studies have shown that marketers perceive blogs to have the highest value of any social media in driving site traffic, brand awareness, lead generation and sales—as well as improving customer service.” Paul Verna, senior analyst, eMarketer

Especially smaller companies with less marketing bucks see the potential of blogs. Short sign-of processes, faster internal dynamics and more flexibility in choosing social technology make it easier for a managing director of an SMB company to set up a blog. Larger companies like stock listed companies have more restricted options to go live on WordPress, Blogger or Typepad in terms of potential legal, IR-related and logistical issues.

Though Twitter and Facebook are easier to set up and kick off the conversation with clients, the impact of blogs is manifold. Blog posts are indexable and searchable on Google as well as on other search engines. And blogging has a long-lasting effect. While tweets cannot talk about complex topics and disappear quite quickly from search engines, blog post stay – no matter if you are looking for that information today ot in five years time.

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If companies can manage it from a resources perspective, the best way to go forward is to set up many social media access points. The professionals have identified by web analysis and social media monitoring where client engagement takes place and where their clients are talking. In a perfect world, users will find the blog post via Twitter and then use the “Like” button to get to the Facebook page – and ideally find some interesting and relevant content there again. But creating different content for different access points is the biggest challenge…, bigger than writing a blog post. Don’t you think…?

Product strategists think social innovations could increase

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If there are more and more people engaging with brands on the social web, the opportunity to collaborate with the social community becomes a lucrative meaning for brands – and their product strategists. These managers could open up a new “external R&D department” when they use social technology in order to increase product innovations by integrating their customers in the process of product creation and development.

A recent Forrester study of 181 consumer product strategy professionals from companies around the globe states that product strategists in companies strive for social innovations. Though Forrester makes clear that social innovation is not yet where it should be from the product strategist’s point-of-view. The study shows the familiar picture that we see in more or less all departments in companies: It is still early days also for product strategists to work with social media. And only some leverage social media in favor of social innovations.

Still it seems to be a big challenge for companies to find their way from being engaged with their customers on the social web to understanding the impacts and chances to social innovation management. This becomes clear when we see that 83% of the companies use social media to drive customer conversation but then not even half of those have product teams that influence product design, creation, or strategy by using social media.

It is also surprising for me to acknowledge that it is not the resources that are lacking. More than two-thirds of the responding product strategists have dedicated social managers or teams. On the one hand, it lacks the right technological connection bridges between the different company departments. On the other hand, when not more than one-fifth have formal policies in their companies for sharing data from social technologies with product teams, the road to succeed with social co-creation efforts seems to be long.

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The best way to produce the right products for your customers is to ideally let them inspire a business. In the past, we had focus-groups which were cost-intensive, time-limited and time-consuming. The concept of social creation and social innovation can work on a day-to-day innovation platform. Just think of Dell Ideastorm, MyStarbucksidea, Adobe’s ideas lab or the IKEA Hacker approach. Nevertheless, companies should be aware that customers very often need or want some kick-back for their inspirational efforts. So, in my eyes the point of giving away some form of incentive will be necessary to get such communities started and make them sustainable.

Or will customers in the future co-create for free to receive better product-price-quality? What do you think?

News Update – Best of the Day

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Ever thought about how the press release might look like then, now and tomorrow? Mark Senak did, and created a very interesting insight on how the new social media world will change PR efforts in the future.

Ever thought about how b2b buyers and technology business decision makers use social technologies? Forrester did. Jeremiah Owyang writes about the most interesting findings… and finds the right arguments for the boss that does not trust in the value of social technology. This data might be convincing and helpful…

Ever thought about how to increase traffic on your website traffic? Sure you did. But did you read the right 3 SEO strategies and ranked them? Richard Martin did, and shares his thoughts on maximizing traffic based on links, content and quality.
For German users: Kostenloser Leitfaden – 30 SEO-Strategien für Unternehmen. Download hier.

PS: Ever thought about how you feel when explaining Twitter… I did. If you want to have a look…