Most companies are using social software internally, but the results to date are underwhelming, if not awful.

Failing Grades

Preliminary findings of the 2012 State of the Social Intranet Study find that both front-line employees and executives give their organization’s social media use a failing grade. In fact, executives are not happy with their enterprise social media (intranet 2.0): 37 percent rate their social intranets as poor or very poor; a paltry 17 percent rate their social intranets as good or very good -- dangerously low ratings that could in fact cost some people their jobs.

Employees are even more displeased than their bosses: 39 percent rate their internal social software as poor or very poor; 21 percent state that the enterprise social software is good or very good.

Even though nearly three-quarters of organizations are using social media on their intranet, most are still in the early stages. In fact, the low satisfaction levels can partly be blamed on the lack of investment: nearly half of all companies (46 percent) have spent between nothing and US$ 10,000 in implementing their social media. Sometimes you get what you pay for.

Heads would most definitely roll if the CRM, ERP or main intranet portal inspired such a dismal user response. But there’s no doubt that social business is still a relatively new concept for most organizations, and therefore the jury still deliberates before the guillotine is sharpened and deployed. 

It’s no small wonder then that more than half of those organizations with social media plan to reassess or replace their social media within the next 12 months; nearly three quarters will do so within three years. This need and drive to improve their social business efforts nicely supports IDC’s market estimates that spending on enterprise social software will increase more than 500 percent between 2011 to 2016 -- that’s a doubling of 2011 spending this year, and at least that amount every year for five years, to US$ 4.5 billion in 2016.

Thumbnail image for Infographic Social Intranet

Readying the Enterprise

However, the problem cannot be fixed by money and IT alone. Like any new revolutionary technology, success has more to do with people and process. To build a social intranet is not enough to inspire employee use. Like most things in business, the intranet has to be sold and communicated to those employees that are not keeners (or potentially fearful or distrustful of the intranet).

Understanding the key elements of a successful change management program will help ensure a successful intranet launch. Change management, in short, becomes an exercise in educating, communicating and selling not only the reason and purpose for the change, but especially anticipating and directly addressing the spoken and unspoken fears (or apathy) of employees.

Big, big money will be spent on social business in the years to come, and given the sub-par performance of enterprise social media to date, a much needed investment is well past due.  

Editor's Note: To read more of Toby's thoughts on the social intranet read The Hub of Enterprise 2.0: The Social Intranet