An article in the Harvard Business Review sheds light on the ‘value’ of social technologies for business. In it, researchers from McKinsey discuss their latest research (The social economy: Unlocking value and productivity through social technologies) into the value of social technologies.

They looked at four industry sectors:

  1. Consumer packaged goods
  2. Consumer finance
  3. Professional services
  4. Advanced manufacturing

The research suggests that there are billions of dollars to be made, or rather value added – whatever that means, from using social technology. I’m never convinced about such claims and have not dug deep into the stats, but I was interested to see how these technologies would benefit organisations.

And it looks like this:

One-third comes from business function-specific applications of social technologies in product development, marketing and sales, operations, and customer support

Two-thirds would arise from using social technologies to improve the collaboration and communications of knowledge workers within these functions and across the enterprise.

And there we see where the real prize lies for organisations. These technologies can improve collaboration and communication and lift the lid on what the researchers call the ‘dark matter’ of company knowledge.

Companies are beginning to discover that social technology platforms provide a far more efficient way of communicating and collaborating. And, they give companies a way to dig out the “dark matter” of company knowledge that is buried in email inboxes and on hard drives. Unlike email, messages on social platforms are accessible to the entire team in real time, eliminating all the to-ing and fro-ing to get everybody on the same page. Even better, on social platforms, communications become content — forming a searchable archive that can be continually enriched with comments and additions by members of the online community. So, when the expert in the group answers the question about how to account for depreciation in Turkey, everybody can see it or find it later.

[Image credit: Ambrozjo]