Canadian companies do not capitalize on social media as well as their global competitors, according to IT-analysis company IDC Canada. The firm’s national survey of social-media use revealed that while 61 percent of Canadian small and midsized businesses and 70 percent of large enterprises use social media, most organizations describe their social networks as experiments rather than formal projects or even pilots. Consequently, bolder foreign players whose multichannel communication systems enable them to share internal data and connect with customers and partners quickly are eclipsing companies here at home.
“We need to move past social experiments and pilots rapidly,” says IDC Canada’s services and software research director Nigel Wallis.
But several factors seem to be holding Canadians back. Wallis and his team found that companies encounter challenges including company culture (read: resistance to social media among workers and managers) and an inability to measure the technology’s effectiveness. Lack of senior management buy-in is a concern, too: only 18 percent of senior managers view social networking as strategic or significant.
“It feels like Canadian organizations are comfortable as technology laggards,” Wallis says. But he warns that the longer businesses in this country take to get serious about social media, the harder it will be for our corporations to catch up to global competitors that have integrated social more thoroughly into their operations.
Canadians plug social into collaboration
Canadians seem pointed in the right direction in one respect, however: they prefer social-media platforms that connect to other enterprise computing systems. IDC Canada found that while just 10 percent of the survey takers would employ standalone social-networking options, closer to 35 percent would choose social systems that augment existing collaboration platforms such as email and voice-messaging.
Other studies and reports suggest that Canadians may not be all that far behind. Altimeter Group’s global research indicates that when it comes to social-media maturity, most organizations label themselves “intermediate.” Altimeter also found that just 17 percent consider themselves strategic social-business users, and for many companies, lack of leadership, organizational problems and a dearth of strategy mean they operate “social anarchies” of uncoordinated efforts.
Meanwhile, more than half of participants in a global MIT study gave their companies a score of 3 or below out of 10 on a scale of social-business maturity. “Only 31 percent gave a rating of 4 to 6. Just 17 percent ranked their company at 7 or above,” the study says.
So Canadians may not be alone as absolute social media beginners. But Canadian IT leaders must push managers and employees onto the social networking dance floor, or their companies could have trouble competing.
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