Thursday, January 5, 2012

Social Media & Business Adoption 2011 – Big US Companies hold back adoption

According to a report by Center for Marketing Research at the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth, Forbes magazine Fortune 500 companies (Top 500 companies in United States) are using social media for their employee communications, but public-facing social media presence is lacking the attention of the company managements. The report says the adoption of blogs has slowed down as evident form data that 23% (114) have corporate public-facing blogs compared to 23% (116) in 2010. There has been a slight increase in both Twitter use (60% in 2010, 62% in 2011) and use of Facebook (56% in 2010, 58% in 2011). Moreover in the past 4 years, the F500 has lagged behind the Inc. 500 (fastest growing private companies), charities, and higher education in social media adoption. The bottom 200 companies are slowing down the adoption and highlight the fact that those ranked higher in the Fortune 500 are more likely to adopt social media aggressively. The Fortune 500 companies are known to adopt new technologies, innovate and provide their consumers the best products and services and are often called as Titans of the business world.

Some of the companies in the Fortune 500 companies are the Business to Business companies who do not deal with the consumers directly and the Business to consumer companies directly interacts with the consumers. B2C companies have already adopted social media as it is one of the critical ways to communicate with the consumers and understand their needs and opinions. B2C companies are forced into adoption as their consumers are voicing their opinions on various social media platforms and they can’t ignore them as it will affect their brand and organizational reputations.B2B companies on the other hand are more regulated and they have been slow in adopting social media. They are slowly realizing the utility of social media interaction but they are not expected to invest significant amounts of resources like the B2C companies. Fortune 500 companies are huge hierarchical organizations, are bureaucratic in nature and adoption of new technologies have to go through lot of approvals and time consuming as decision making involves multiple departments. These organizations look for more proof of utility of the technology and wait to see the results of adoption in other large organizations before they adopt unlike the smaller and medium organizations that easily adopt the social media and are more willing to experiment with new technologies.    

Fortune 500 companies are also not sure about how to integrate the social media technologies into their organizational IT infrastructure, what are the inherent risks involved in using such technologies, how to effectively control and monitor their social presence, which of the tools that are available are the best tools. Another major issue is that of the content in social media like who should develop and maintain the content, intellectual property rights of the content and how to share the content, etc. Encouraging participating and engaging the consumers is also critical and when consumers voice negative opinions or highlight the issues, companies have to tackle it in appropriate manner as it has significant impact on the organization reputation. These companies have thousands of employees spread across the world in various countries and they have to be trained about the social media policy and how to use the social media platforms according to the rules and policy. Setting up a monitoring mechanism is also costly. Employees have to be motivated to participate in the social media and also maintain their engagement and do not stop suddenly.

Some of the companies are of the opinion that the traditional media presence and communication is better than social media. These companies have already invested heavily on the traditional media channels like, TV, Print, etc. Adoption of Social media needs the companies listen to their customer’s voice in various social media and then develop an appropriate social media engagement strategy.  Policy development and implementation involves monetary resources and time which some companies are not ready to invest in. Some of the companies that adopted social media since the past five years are evaluating the social media engagement impact and the ROI from social media presence and are using various social media analytics to assess. The social media analytics has seen significant improvements in terms of the technologies in 2011and many large technology players are acquiring smaller players to integrate these technologies into their core offerings. It seems the initial euphoria of social media adoption has died down and the companies are becoming more pragmatic in terms of returns and impact.

Some of the Fortune 500 companies do not see social media as an effective means and they do not have any social media presence or strategy particularly the B2B companies. Some 156 companies (31%) in the Fortune 500 have neither a Twitter account nor a Facebook presence and there has been little or no change in the number of companies using corporate blogs, Facebook (2%) and Twitter (2%) in the last year, according to University of Massachusetts Dartmouth report. But the fact remains that the social media adoption in the small and medium companies is increasing and this maintain the rate of social media adoption in US businesses to normal levels as the large business organizations slowdown their adoption. With the tightening of the budgets for 2012 due to the Euro Debt crisis and US economic slowdown, the social media business adoption may stagnate or decline. Social and mobile are going dominate in future and consumers are more aggressively voicing their opinions both positive and negative and are looking to engage more with the business organizations and social media tools and platforms provide the best platform for the two way communication process.

Source: The 2011 Fortune 500 and Social Media Adoption- Center for Marketing Research, University of Massachusetts Dartmouth

Wednesday, January 4, 2012

Social Media & Business Organizations 2011 – Emerging Markets leading Adoption

According to a report from KPMG International, more than 70% of organizations across the globe are active on social media and businesses in the emerging markets are leading in social media adoption compared to mature markets due to fall in cost of internet and devices. Social media is being used by business organizations for customer relationship management, engaging employees and other stakeholders in the organization innovation process for developing new product and services and improving the existing ones. Businesses too have realized that there are risks associated with social media engagement and are looking for ways to reduce the risk and use social media to improve their brand image and organization reputation. Organizations are also training employees about social media usage and are told to strictly adhere to the specific social media policies and rules formulated by the respective companies which also help them to reduce the risks associated with social media engagement. The policy should be clearly communicated to all the stakeholders and without a clear social media engagement policy it will be disastrous for the business organizations.

4,000 employees including 1800 managers in major markets gave their feedback and the research found that organizations are still underestimating the benefits of social media but 80% of businesses with an active social media program said they had seen and measured the benefits of social media engagement. Businesses are using analytical software to monitor their social media presence and are also trying to measure the ROI in the social media engagements. Job satisfaction of the employees has been better in organizations with open policies on social media as they feel motivated and valued for their engagement and they voice their opinions freely through the social media channels and there is no point in restricting employees to access social media as they will find ways to go around the firewalls and still use them. Moreover employees are bringing their own devices like the smartphones and mobile phones with internet access to the workplace and companies have no control over them. Employees don’t know that organizations are monitoring their social media activities and face severe consequences of loosing their jobs for wrongly using the social media platforms. KPMG suggests businesses and organizations to actively listen to the opinions and feedback on various social media platforms and accordingly engage and develop their social media strategy.

Monday, January 2, 2012

Social Media @ Oracle –Engaging Employees & Oracle Community

Oracle increased the adoption social media tools since 2007 and launched blogs, wikis social networking site for the employees and also used discussion forums and sites to connect customers, developers, Database administrators, etc. The social media and networking tools that Oracle adopted were focused to attract and retain talent, engage employees in innovation by inviting their ideas, talent development and allow employees, customers, Oracle community collaborate and learn. Oracle believed employees need to have tools to collaborate and they know the value of discussion forums, blogs and wikis to connect with colleagues to share ideas, answer questions and help each other. Oracle uses the social media and collaboration tools to not only communicate about the database technologies and upgrades but also uses them to engage employees and Oracle Community in the development of the database technology and future development of the company. Oracle initially started with Idea Factory in July 2007, with an agenda to collect innovative ideas from the Applications Strategy teams as the existing modes of email and wikis failed to attract employees to ideate. With Idea Factory success, social networking capability was added to it and it was renamed as Oracle Connect. Employees received Connect very well and many capabilities were added to it like Groups where employees can collaborate and share based on their business needs and personal interests.

Oracle Connect is at the heart of Oracle employee’s internal social networking capability with many features constantly added like OraTweet integration a twitter like platform where employees can update their status and also send tweets to their networks, groups, Pages for groups where groups can have any number of pages editable by its members, activity logs that have updates of employees, sharing capability increased where employees can share links, notes, ideas, questions and feeds from blogs, wikis, forums and filter them based on date, sort, etc and also search capability was also added. Oracle Connect has ultimately become a Facebook for Oracle employees, internally within the organization. Oracle also uses wikis extensively in their organization to connect employees, customers and Oracle certified professionals to collaborate and has more than 17,000 registered users. Users can share their knowledge, collaborate and the wiki has many spaces that allow collaborations between employees, users, professionals and plays a critical role in training and development. Recently Oracle Wikis are migrated to a new platform and are now associated with groups/spaces, as opposed to an open free-for-all, and space owners have curative responsibility for approving new members, moderating comments, etc.

Oracle Mix is essentially a blog and discussion forum for Oracle employees, its customers, partners and developers, who are encouraged to share insights on work and personal activities. It was launched back in 2007 by The Apps Lab so that people could network and stay connected during (and after) Open World and is social network, idea sharing site, group collaboration tool, and answers forum. Oracle Mix has more than 75,000 members and is the official social network for Oracle Community and allowed people to ideate, participate, vote on ideas and suggest sessions in the Open World on various subjects so that they can discuss them during the open world. Oracle Mix has been hugely popular and community users participated in the Suggest a session for the Open World and Oracle too encouraged participation by allotting thirty slots to this in the Open World forum. Oracle Mix too saw major additions to it in terms of video capability, YouTube and Slide share presentation embeddings, etc. Oracle Mix is also available on Facebook, Twitter and other external social networking sites on the internet. Oracle Mix has given the Oracle community a great platform to actively engage with the company and voice their views and opinions and Oracle has listened to them. Oracle Mix and Oracle Connect are two different platforms and both of them are critical for Oracle.

Oracle Technology Network hosts dozens of discussion forums online. One can post questions and answers on this forum and all discussions are threaded so it is easy to find a discussion topic. Participation on the forum is encouraged through points that are awarded for postings and correct answers and there are recognition levels of Pro, Expert and Guru that are awarded. Oracle community has utilized the discussion forums and engaged in discussions about various Oracle technologies. The discussion forums have been a valued forum for the developers, employees and for people who wants to get trained for various Oracle Certifications and become part of the Oracle community. Discussion forums are also the one stop resource for all those who need to keep themselves updated with the various developments in the Oracle database technologies.    Oracle OWL initiative (Oracle's Women's Leadership) is an online portal supplemented by chat and forum discussion features and members have access to announcements, links to industry resources and to professional career coaches. Oracle's Global Leadership Academy is a talent development program that is aimed at senior leaders and uses a wiki, discussion forum, and live web seminar sessions to help develop leadership skills. The success of Oracle and its technologies depend on the way it provides the customers and developer community with the knowledge about the latest technology updates and enhancements.

Oracle has been using various Social media for long and had hugely invested in them and has been constantly upgrading the technology infrastructure for all the collaborative platforms. Many features, capabilities and functionalities have been added to these tools so as to further increase the participation and improve the knowledge sharing and collaboration experience. Oracle has been acquiring companies and integrating the acquired technologies into its core database offerings. Oracle database is the most used database technology and it runs in many Fortune 500 companies. Oracle needs to encourage developers and also need to train many professionals and students in its database technologies and it uses the various Web 2.0 technologies to do this. The various discussion forums, wikis, blogs and social networking tools not only allow collaboration and sharing of knowledge but also provides the Oracle community to participate and voice their opinions in the future development of Oracle and its technologies. Oracle community too excited about these various platforms and Oracle uses these tools to communicate with the employees, developers, customers and others. It is important for Oracle to further improve its social media platforms and collaborative tools as the customers and developers community need to be updated with the latest technology updates and provide solutions and answers to their queries. Oracle is one enterprise that has utilized the social media collaborative tools for the organization success and engagement with employees, customers and Oracle community as a whole.