“Social Collaboration” becoming more common in European companies, but still a ways to go

May 21, 2013
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A study recently released by leading French IT consulting and analysis group Pierre Audoin Consultants (PAC), found that social collaboration has started to make significant inroads into the European corporate world. Some 60% of the companies they surveyed in Germany, France and the UK stated that their companies have taken a first step to launch projects focusing on social collaboration. However, only 11% stated that these projects have been fully implemented or completed and 33% state that their projects are still at the test or early stages.

Although corporate IT spending has slowed for various projects this year, this doesn’t seem to be the main obstacle to social enterprise projects. Firstly, there still seems to be a great deal of apprehension about usage of social networks within organizations as a staggering 31% still restrict the usage of micro-blogging sites such as Twitter. Next, there also seems to be a belief amongst management that if social enterprise projects are simply launched, that will be enough to drive a successful social transformation of the company. What management doesn’t seem to realize, according to PAC study lead Andreas Stiehler, is that it’s a lack of management determination and active involvement as well as a low-level of organizational flexibility that are preventing these projects from succeeding. In addition, although many companies have launched these projects, “social collaboration” is not yet a key part of organizational strategy and culture, which also limits the success and impact of these initiatives.

France off to a reasonable start

Versus the UK and Germany, France appears to be making more headway in the transition as it’s the country with the most social collaboration projects underway. In addition, many French respondents state that they are inclined themselves to work in a socially collaborative way and see the value of the social enterprise in attracting, motivating and retaining talent. In France this sentiment appears to go up to the senior levels in the company as it’s primarily management that initiates and finances these projects. However, PAC does raise as a concern that the motivation for management’s active involvement seems to be more of a will to avoid being blamed if these projects fail rather than a desire to truly ingrain social within their organizations. Similar to their counterparts in the UK and Germany, there’s still a lag in actual usage of social networks within the organization and a reluctance to give their employees the autonomy necessary to get the most out of these tools. However, French enterprises do seem to be fully aware that moving to a truly socially collaborative enterprise necessitates a profound cultural change, which will likely cause them to rely on a great deal of change management support.

You can check out the full study here (in French only).