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Companies are improving their mastery of social technologies, using them to enhance operations and exploit new market opportunities—key findings of our fifth annual survey on these tools and technologies, in which we asked more than 4,200 global executives how organizations deploy them and the benefits they confer.

When adopted at scale across an emerging type of networked enterprise and integrated into the work processes of employees, social technologies can boost a company’s financial performance and market share, respondents say, confirming last year’s survey results.

But this is a very dynamic environment, where the gains from using social technologies sometimes do not persist, perhaps because it takes so much effort to achieve them at scale.

Some companies, respondents indicate, reaped fewer benefits and thus became less networked, while a smaller percentage learned how to deploy these technologies to become even more networked. Executives say that their companies are using them to increase their agility and to manage organizational complexity. Many believe that if organizational barriers to the use of social technologies diminish, they could form the core of entirely new business processes that may radically improve performance.

Usage at scale and continued benefits
Social technologies as a group have reached critical scale at the organizations represented in our survey.

Seventy-two percent of the respondents report that their companies are deploying at least one technology, and more than 40 percent say that social networking and blogs are now in use.

These technologies are being deployed across sectors, at the high level of 86 percent of the respondents’ companies in high tech and telecommunications, but at 62 percent of companies even in the energy industry.

Levels of reported benefits not only remain high when respondents’ organizations use social tools for internal purposes but have also increased among those that use them for communicating with customers or for integration with partners and suppliers.

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