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European companies embracing enterprise social, reaping rewards, report shows

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Pundits have been chattering about enterprise social media for a while, but previous research showed that despite the hype these technologies had a long way to go before they were fully embraced by business. Now a new report indicates that adoption of social tools and the realization of their much discussed benefits may be firmly underway, in Europe at least.

The report by branding agency Millward Brown, and sponsored by Google, is based on a poll of 2,700 professionals in France, Germany, Italy, the Netherlands, Spain, Sweden and the UK, and comes to conclusions that will get enterprise social advocates excited. “The results… clearly show that not only are social tools being used widely within business today, but that those who are using them are already reaping the benefits,” declares the report’s forward written by Sebastien Marotte, VP of Google Enterprise, EMEA.

First off, it should be noted that the report includes both consumer social products like LinkedIn and Facebook used for business purposes and social tools geared specifically for organizations under the banner ‘enterprise social’. So what are the details?

Some of the most encouraging findings about enterprise social concern exactly who is using the tools. The report found that high-growth companies (defined as those with more than 10 percent growth in 2011) are making the greatest use of social tools, with 81 percent of these dynamic companies that employ enterprise social reporting these tools have significantly impacted growth and 80 percent telling pollster they saw benefits to teams’ collaboration and knowledge sharing. “Frequent users of in-house social tools are more than twice as likely to be working in high growth companies,” says the report, though professionals in Germany and Sweden seem to be less likely to utilize enterprise social.

“The better the performance of a company, the more likely they are to be using social-media tools,” Allan Hyde, senior account director at Millward Brown, told the Wall Street Journal, though the paper notes the report does not attempt to demonstrate the bottom line impact of these social tools but instead offers subjective opinions about them. Hyde concedes that, “it may well be that the sort of companies that adopt social media tools are the sort of companies that are successful anyway. We are not suggesting that this is some sort of panacea.”

Not only were those at high performing companies more likely to use social tools, but the highest performing individuals were also more likely to adopt enterprise social. Senior managers, somewhat surprisingly, were also more likely to be using social tools than more junior employees. The report finds:

  • 86 percent of frequent users have recently been promoted, compared to 61 percent of non- users.
  • Frequent users are happier in their jobs with 38 percent claiming to be highly satisfied compared to 18 percent of non-users.
  • Nearly three-quarters (71 percent) of senior managers are using social tools at least once a week, compared to 49 percent of those in more junior roles.
  • Senior managers who report using social tools, claim they are already improving productivity (76 percent), knowledge sharing among dispersed teams (79 percent) and the ability to quickly find information (72 percent).
  • 76 percent of senior managers believe businesses that embrace social tools will grow faster than those who ‘ignore’ the technology, and 53 percent believe that businesses will not survive unless they embrace social.

If you’re interested in the full report, you can download it for free here.

Do you think a similar survey in the U.S. would yield similar results?

Image courtesy of Flickr user andrewasmith.