Many employees want to use social media to network and collaborate with co-employees, being more productive and sharing knowledge in the process. But according to a study conducted by Microsoft which was released last Tuesday, some organizations can’t use social networking collaboration tools in the work place because its use is prevented by IT management or staff.
The survey is conducted by Ipsos and made to order by Microsoft. Close to ten thousand individuals working for companies with at least one hundred employees participated in the survey. In addition, the participants are widely varied across thirty two countries.
Seventy seven percent said that they want tools that would improve their collaboration in the office, 30 percent said that IT is setting up restraints on using social networking sites for use at businesses. In addition, thirty one percent said that they would use personal money just to be able to use social media tools in the office.
In addition, according to 68 percent of respondents, IT was unwilling to support social networking for their business functions because of security concerns. Fifty eight percent said that social networking sites would get in the way of productivity and so it doesn’t get support from IT. Other concerns include data loss, chances of hurting the image of the corporation, and HR concerns.
According to Yammer’s director of enterprise strategy, Brian Murray, who is now also a member of Microsoft’s Office group (recall that Microsoft acquired Yammer last year for 1.2 billion dollars):
“The tension and rift we’re seeing is fascinating. Many end users don’t believe their employers recognize the value of social tools. We are urging those responsible for provisioning technology to look at the merits, listen to employees and look into provisioning these technologies on a wide scale.”
Across various countries, however, there is a significant variation in the responses. For example, in China, 84 percent of respondents are certain that social networking will significantly, or at least to a certain degree, make their productivity better. At the other end of the spectrum, in the Netherlands, only 24 percent believed that such improvements will be provided for by social media. The average value for all countries involved is 46 percent.
While these results may foretell there are challenging times ahead for Microsoft and other companies that have social networking tools for business, during the previous quarter, Yammer had a 259 percent revenue increase and 312 new customers.
On the other hand, Microsoft understands that it needs a more strategic use for social networking, rather than just including Yammer in the environment. According to Gail Shlansky, senior director of product management at Axceler, a SharePoint management tools provider, for Yammer to be successful, “it takes advocates, it takes telling the resources in the enterprise who are going to use it into being part of that team.”
Aside from purchasing Yammer last year, Microsoft also showed its strong interest in social networking for business by adding social networking features, including those of Yammer’s, to SharePoint, a platform for collaborating with team members working on a company project.