Over the last few years, under the stewardship of Susan Scrupski (who has just recently started a new role with 7 Summits), the Social Business Council (previously known as the 2.0 Adoption Council) have released some interesting case studies and field data from large enterprises who have actively embarked on implementing Web 2.0 and social software internally.
The last report that Susan produced has just been released, examining the Current State of Social Engagement Inside The Large Enterprise (browse on SlideShare or register to get a downloadable copy).
The people responding to this survey represent large enterprises (the smallest company employs 4,000 people and the largest had 1.8 million!), with revenues over $1 billion in 2011. Of the 56 qualified responses they received, ~66% were based in North America and the other third from Europe (there were also 1 or 2 responses from India).
With that scope in mind, what does this survey tell us?
One to the main challenges facing the most successful early adopters in this survey is getting beyond 50% adoption.
Susan adds some additional thoughts on her blog about the report:
"[The survey] debunked some of the hype that circulates on the social web regarding the state of the market. In essence, the social business phenomenon is real, but all stakeholders vested in the market would be well-advised to exercise some patience in expecting game-changing results."
Dion Hinchcliffe has also provided some additional commentary:
"large companies are rolling out social networks, they are encountering challenges that include cultural change, limited resources, and the sheer length of time it takes to effectively engage at scale across an entire organization. That said, the report stresses that members feel their their efforts are a success overall and -- perhaps most importantly -- that all of them are continuing their social business journey."
What does this report mean for smaller companies or those outside the US?
Both Susan and Dion emphasise the scope of the survey is focused on a small set of very large (and primarily US-based) companies. I don't recall that there are any government organisations in the Council either. This doesn't mean this survey isn't relevant to other organisations, but there is no doubt that some of the drivers and levers for enterprise social software do change with scale and geographic spread.
On my old blog, I've also written before that the imperative for Australian businesses to become connected companies is different from the US. As a rule, we don't suffer from cubicle farms but we're a small, spread out nation in the wrong time zone with its own challenges.
Dion also highlights the ownership challenge - this is a common problem, regardless of size. Being forced to deal with how to organise for internal collaboration and external social media engagement is likely to be the biggest side effect of social business; but right how in the largest companies:
"IT departments far and away control and own the social business environment within most organizations (74.5%). Coming in second is Corporate Comm, at 38.2%. Knowledge management, marketng, and other groups round out the major areas that own the platform where social happens in their organization, but represent a small minority of respondents." (emphasis added)
Like Susan, I think the good thing about this report is to burst the bubble of the hype merchants, but also to challenge those that just think 'social' is hype. As one Council member validated, despite the need to break the 50% adoption rate ceiling:
"It is changing the way we work and truly flattening the organization."
Its also worth considering this survey in the light of past data. This is a journey, not a quick fix.