This is part two of a ten-part series leading up to the inaugural Australian release of the Digital IQ report.

The rise of social networking has gone from fad, to past-time, to a full-blown pillar of modern society. Twitter, Facebook and a variety of other networks are dominating the social space in both the consumer and business spaces – and have completely changed the way we interact with each other.

At the same time, the social space has evolved within digital businesses. Collaboration and social enterprise tools such as Yammer have allowed businesses to connect their workplaces more than ever before, leveraging huge global networks that were once – even as little as 10 years ago – completely estranged from each other.

Although much of the enterprise focus in social networking has been on the consumer side, there is clearly demand and use for sophisticated enterprise networks as well – the $US1 billion dollar sale of Yammer to Microsoft in 2012 serves as proof.

Social networking in an enterprise context goes beyond just communication. Aspects of social analytics and even gamification are all part of making the workplace more social. Businesses such as Canon and L’Oreal have successfuly implemented game-like mechanics across their business units to both improve sales and hiring techniques.

As social networking improves on the consumer side, so too will employees grow to expect and foster social networking within the workplaces. Those digital enterprises which are able to harness that power and use it to improve productivity will find themselves at an advantage.

The growth of the networking tool

When social tools became popular in the early 2000s, the consumer-focused side of the hobby was all about communicating with friends, (especially given the younger demographics targeted at the industry’s genesis).

Actual collaboration tools didn’t come until later on in the process, when networks such as Facebook offered real-time chat features, and Google started offering more sophisticated tools such as Google Docs.

In the meantime, however, social and collaboration apps continued to take off. Business messaging tools became a staple in modern offices, and tools for managing workflows and projects became more popular. Now, they’re practically expected – and the market is filled with them.

While Yammer is the typical example, others such as Microsoft’s SharePoint, Lotus Notes, Google App, Chatter and Podio, are all used in a variety of businesses including some of the largest in the world. Others such as Basecamp and Campfire have a huge number of clients in the tech industries, and beyond.

Businesses want collaboration

There’s a clear hunger among businesses for these types of services – and among staff as well. According to a recent report from IDC, enterprise social tools make up 11% of the collaboration software market, and a recent survey from a UK start-up found 75% of businesses believe online collaboration tools will be “important” in the next year.

At the same time, employees are also keen for more information on how they can collaborate better. A survey from Vanson Bourne found 83% use social technologies and they would want to use more in the future.

And 63% said the main reasons for wanting to use social networking tools is the ability to find information faster.

The wealth of information being thrown at businesses and the growth of business analytics means social collaboration tools are more needed than ever. Getting agents from all areas of an organisation to talk to each other more than ever before will be the key to success in a digital world.

With employees now on the hunt for digital collaboration tools, the onus is on businesses to make sure their agents have the methods to speak with each other. Collaboration and socialisation is the key to success in a digital environment – the more information everyone has access to the more likely they will come up with appropriate solutions.

Stay tuned for the third entry in our Digital IQ series, which will explore the evolution of mobile. 

Part 1: The new age of analytics 

This article is by Jason Juma-Ross, former Digital Intelligence Lead for PwC.


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Jason Juma-Ross