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McKinsey says social technologies are now mainstream, but organizational evolution still needed

I won’t steal the thunder of McKinsey’s new global survey, Evolution of the networked enterprise, which is filled with interesting stats. The bottom line is that social technologies have become mainstream in the enterprise and are responsible — in the minds of those responding — for a considerable amount of payback.

From my perspective these two paragraphs are the big takeaway:

“Financially, respondents say social tools contribute 20 percent and 18 percent, respectively, to the revenue increases and cost improvements their companies attribute to the use of all digital technologies. These percentages may appear small but are driven by the extent to which—and the ways in which—companies deploy the technologies. At companies using at least six tools (or half of the tools the survey asked about), executives say this usage amounts to a larger share of financial benefits. Even larger shares at the companies using six or more tools on mobile say so: these respondents report that social tools contribute 32 percent and 26 percent, respectively, to their companies’ revenue and cost-cutting benefits.

Achieving this high level of benefits will likely require substantial organizational changes. When asked about the changes that technologies might facilitate, executives are twice as likely to say these tools could enable entirely or mostly new processes for four of eight business activities at a hypothetical company without the technology-related constraints their own organizations face (Exhibit 6). Slightly larger shares than in 2011 do expect technologies to facilitate certain changes in their own companies, related to developing strategic plans, allocating resources, matching employees to tasks, managing projects, and determining compensation. But the large gaps between potential changes at respondents’ companies and at companies without constraints, which we observed in the previous survey, suggest that the hurdles could be considerable.”

To restate:

  1. Those getting the most from their social tools are those that have the most tools.
  2. Executives believe that social tools could create even greater boost given significant organizational evolution, but the barriers to that evolution are significant.

As I wrote in this week’s update, I believe that a large number of deeply functional, tightly focused social tools will pay back the most for the investments of time and money in them. And in my post “The slow-and-tight mindset is dead: Welcome to the postnormal,” I make the case for a fast-and-loose organization, one that is inherently better matched to leveraging social network–based communications. The transition from slow and tight to fast and loose — and related cultural changes — is exactly the evolution that companies need to made for that added productivity. And yes, making that shift will be very hard for the executives and line workers of slow-and-tight organizations.