January 11, 2011

A new research report from InformationWeek Analytics, called "Socially Challenged? Make Your Enterprise Social Networking Efforts Pay Off" has uncovered a paradox of sorts: although 90% of the 700 companies polled provide social networking tools to their employees, most (90%) consider their social networking efforts to be unsuccessful.

According to the research, attempts to get employees to blog, use wikis, participate in discussion forums or take advantage of full-scale enterprise social networks largely fail. Lack of single sign-on, integration with e-mail, tracking of user activity and connection to external social nets are key factors that keep employees from embracing internal social nets.

Some of the specific findings of the survey are these:

* The most used function of enterprise social networking is the online directory with Facebook-style profiles (22% of survey respondents report heavy use), followed by team or company wikis (13%), company discussion forums (7%) and internal blogs (5%).

* One-third of companies surveyed don't provide employees with single sign-on to their internal systems.

* 39% of respondent don't offer any type of e-mail integration with their internal social networks.

* Only 8% of companies approach their social networking initiatives with a coordinated team from multiple disciples; most efforts are led by marketing.

* Microsoft's SharePoint is the leading enterprise social networking system, with 71% of the market; Google's sites and IBM's Lotus are the only other platforms with a sizable base.

"It seems ironic that people are so enamored of social networking in their personal lives yet so resistant to using it at work," says Lorna Garey, content director of InformationWeek Analytics. "But the reality is that, if we want people to use social networking tools to achieve business goals, we have to simplify the experience for them. Things like single sign-on and integration with e-mail would go a long way."

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