While more than 70 percent of organizations around the world are now active on social media, a recent report by KPMG International finds that businesses in the emerging markets are surging ahead of those in mature markets in this area.
Chinese, Indian and Brazilian respondents were almost 30 percent more likely than their counterparts in the UK, Australia, Germany or Canada to say that their organization utilized social media within their businesses.
“The emerging markets seem to be quickly finding that social networks offer a relatively low-cost opportunity to leapfrog the competition in developed markets,” noted Malcolm Alder, a Partner with KPMG in Australia’s Digital Economy practice. “In some cases, inefficient, unreliable or monitored email systems are forsaken in preference of the faster and unfiltered, interactive social network channels. In others, a lack of alternatives may be driving businesses to adopt social networks within the enterprise.”
Based on a survey of almost 4,000 managers and employees in major markets around the world, the research also found that organizations tend to underestimate the benefits of social media. For example, only 13 percent of those with no existing social media program thought that ‘going social’ would influence their organization’s public profile or drive productivity gains, versus around 80 percent of those with an active social media program who said they had either personally seen or organizationally measured these benefits.
“With more than 80 percent of respondents citing benefits, it seems clear that harnessing the benefit of social media should be an organizational imperative,” added Sanjaya Krishna, a Partner with the Digital Economy Practice at KPMG in the US. “Instead of seeing social as an abject risk, executives would be well advised to balance the risks of engaging in social media against the opportunity cost of not participating. Make no mistake, there are risks to being engaged and no one should enter the world of social media without having thought through the associated governance model.”
The report also found that organizations that restrict access to social networks may be fighting a losing battle. Fully one-third of employees at organizations with blocked access were not only using social media at the office, they were ‘jail breaking’ their work devices to satiate their social networking needs. Job satisfaction and employee engagement are also impacted by access to social media: 63 percent of employees at organizations with open policies on social media said they were satisfied in their job, versus only 41 percent of those who had their access restricted.
“Executives may be naïve in thinking that banned access to social networks eliminates employee use,” suggested Tudor Aw, KPMG’s European head of Technology and a partner in the UK firm. “Indeed, the survey shows that by restricting or blocking access, many employees tend to move their activity to their own personal devices which are often less secure and completely unmonitored.”
In response, a majority of organizations have either developed a specific policy or set informal expectations for employees engaging in social media. The KPMG International report, entitled Going Social: How businesses are making the most of social media found that more than half of organizations offer employees specific training on social media and 62 percent had developed a specific social media policy.
But the data also shows that many employees are unaware that their social media use may be monitored when conducted using office technology. So while almost 60 percent of managers said that their organization monitored employee use of social networks, only around 40 percent of employees seemed aware of that potential.
“Clear, practical and concise policies supported by appropriate training should be high on the agenda to give employees the confidence to be active in social media, while reducing risk by knowing the boundaries within which they should act,” noted Malcolm Alder. “We recommend organizations first listen to what is being said about them in social media; the unvarnished truth and then set the rules of engagement before they head out on the path to social network adoption.”
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