According to McKinsey’s just published Web 2.0 Global Survey, companies that use social media applications say they’ve seen clear benefits from the technology. The survey was conducted online in June 2009 and received 1,695 responses from executives across industries, regions, and functional specialties. The survey questioned Web 2.0 deployments in three main areas: within their organizations; externally, in their relations with customers; and in their dealings with suppliers, partners, and outside experts. About 69% of those surveyed said their use of social networks had increased innovation, improved their marketing plans and given them access to new information. The survey found that companies that made the most use of social technologies tended to see the largest benefits.
Most interesting to note, the executives who participated in the study acknowledge that Web 2.0 technologies can be a powerful lure for an organization; their interactivity promises to bring more employees into daily contact at lower cost. When used effectively, they also may encourage participation in projects and idea sharing, thus deepening a company’s pool of knowledge. They may bring greater scope and scale to organizations as well, strengthening bonds with customers and improving communications with suppliers and outside partners.
This year’s survey turned up strong evidence that these advantages are translating into measurable business gains. When asked about the business benefits their companies have gained as a result of using Web 2.0 technologies, respondents most often report greater ability to share ideas; improved access to knowledge experts; and reduced costs of communications, travel, and operations. Many respondents also say Web 2.0 tools have decreased the time to market for products and have had the effect of improving employee satisfaction.
Although many companies use a mix of tools, the survey shows that among all respondents deriving benefits, the more heavily used technologies are blogs, wikis, and podcasts—the same tools that are popular among consumers. Among respondents who report seeing benefits within their companies, many cite blogs, RSS, and social networks as important means of exchanging knowledge. These networks often help companies coalesce affinity groups internally.
Not surprisingly, when comparing respondents’ industries, those at high-technology companies are most likely to report measurable benefits from Web 2.0 across the board, followed by those at companies offering business, legal, and professional services.
These survey results indicate that a different type of company may be emerging—one that makes intensive use of interactive technologies. This networked organization is characterized both by the internal integration of Web tools among employees, as well as use of the technologies to strengthen company ties with external stakeholders—customers and business partners.
As such, companies reporting business benefits also report high levels of Web 2.0 integration into employee workflows. They most often deploy three or more Web tools, and usage is high throughout these organizations.