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Microsoft: Is your team properly 'socialised'?

30 May 2013

Microsoft claims worker appetite for social tools is increasing, even if it means spending their own money and defying organisational policy to use the technology.

In a recent survey, the software giant says nearly half of employees report that social tools at work help increase their productivity.

Yet over 30% of companies underestimate the value of these tools and often restrict their use.

"Today, tens of millions of people use social technologies such as Facebook, Twitter and Yelp in their personal lives to stay in touch with friends, expand their personal networks and share ideas and information," says Jeff Meisner, editor, the Official Microsoft Blog.

"So, it should come as no surprise that a similar trend is sweeping through the workplace, with social business technologies such as Yammer, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Dynamics CRM playing a greater role in the office and beyond."

Conducted by research firm Ipsos, Microsoft surveyed 9,908 information workers in 32 countries, finding that 39% of employees feel there isn’t enough collaboration in their workplaces, while 40% believe social tools help foster better teamwork.

More surprisingly however, 31% said they are willing to spend their own money to buy social tools.

“Employees are already bringing their own devices into their workplaces, but now they are increasingly bringing their own services as well,” says Charlene Li, founder and analyst, Altimeter Group, a firm that studies social media and other technology trends.

“Employees expect to work differently, with tools that feel more modern and connected, but are also reflective of how they interact in their personal lives.

"Enterprise social represents a new way to work, and organisations embracing these tools are improving collaboration, speeding customer responses and creating competitive advantages.”

Microsoft says employees at all levels have become increasingly aware of the value social technologies can bring to their organisations and make them more productive and collaborative across both teams and geographies.

Because let’s face it, many companies operate in numerous areas of the world in real time.

“Social is moving from a nice-to-have tool to a necessity in the workplace,” says Adam Pisoni, Microsoft’s general manager of Yammer.

"As all companies are faced with the increasing pace of change, they need to leverage the power and knowledge of employees more than their current technologies allow.

"Just as email accelerated business in the 90s, social tools are driving a faster flow of knowledge and information within and across organisations.”

The research also found distinct differences between countries, sectors and genders as they relate to the levels of productivity, collaboration and communication tools used in today’s workplace.

Regions

Employees in the Asia Pacific region were most likely to attribute higher productivity levels to the increased use of social tools, with the area also adapting to social tools quicker than other other continent.

Sectors

Microsoft says financial services and government employees are most likely to say their company places restrictions on the use of social tools, likely due to the high level of regulation in those sectors.

While professionals in financial services (74%) and government (72%) are more likely than those in other fields to say these restrictions are due to security concerns, while those working in retail (59%) and travel and hospitality (57%) are more likely to blame productivity loss.

Gender

Men are more likely than women to attribute higher productivity levels to social tools in a professional setting, with the female gender more likely than men to believe their company restricts the use of social tools.

Men are also more likely than women to say these restrictions are due to security concerns, while women are more likely to blame productivity loss.

“Just as email accelerated the pace of business in the ’90s, enterprise social will be the driver of greater agility and transformation in the 21st century workplace,” says Kurt DelBene, president, Microsoft Office Division.

“As we look ahead at how collaboration and communications continue to evolve, we believe the tools people use today — email, instant messaging, voice, videoconferencing, social — will come together and be deeply integrated into apps in ways that will speed collaboration and truly transform the way people work.”

Enterprise social

Microsoft envisions enterprise social as a fiber connecting all collaboration tools within an enterprise, not as a separate website or app that must be added into employees’ daily mix of activities.

As companies start to use social tools such as Yammer, Microsoft Office 365, Microsoft Lync and Microsoft Dynamics CRM for collaboration, sharing and communicating outside and inside their organisations, Microsoft believes they stand to benefit from an increase in team collaboration, employee engagement, organisational connectedness, and the "flexibility required to react nimbly and quickly to business changes and demands."

Done correctly, enterprise social can drive significant business value by improving how employees connect, share information and work across teams and geographies, as well as beyond the firewall to customers, vendors and other key relationships.

Is your team 'socialised'? Do social tools aid business development? Tell us your thoughts below

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