We recently embarked on a Forrester-wide research project to benchmark the use of social technologies across enterprise organizations. Why is this important? Well as you may know, we cover social technologies from a wide range of perspectives — from roles in marketing to IT to technology professionals. We find each of these roles differ in their general "social maturity" and that most companies are experiencing pockets of success, but few, if any, are successfully implementing it across the board. In fact, full maturity in this space could take years, but there are clear differences in how some "ahead of the curve" companies are using social technologies for business results.

Infrastructure and operations professionals have not necessarily focused on how they can leverage social technologies but rather how they might have to support (or not support) these technologies. In some enterprises, the Security and Risk group has determined that IT operations must block access to social networking sites such as Facebook.

We have come across a couple of progressive IT operations groups that are thinking about social as part of a larger help desk strategy. How?

  • Improve incident and problem resolution times through better collaboration. Social tools help resolve problems. Usually this is in a business-to-consumer (B2C) context, but the same is true for your IT service desk. Eveline Oerhlich makes the case that knowledge management is a critical success factor in your IT operations and social helps improve the collection and dissemination of tacit knowledge. Bottom line: IT ops incidents get resolved faster and escalated more fluidly.
  • Reduce calls to the help desk with self service wikis and blogs. The idea is to offload or avoid service desk calls by supporting a wiki or blog-like structure where common answers are posted. Self-service employees will find these FAQs and it may prevent a call. Ben Gray point's out how a lot of organizations are using social channels to support bring-your-own-computer (BYOC) programs. The idea is simple: it's technically not IT’s responsibility to troubleshoot the employee-owned hardware, but if you provide a support forum then employees will support themselves.
  • Improve I&O and contact center communication. Social media isn't just for your help desk. As Elizabeth Herrell pointed out, Social is also part of your broader communications strategy for the next decade. Why? Because it allows I&O and contact center executives to quickly locate experts within the company, better articulate changes in IT, and create better overall business responsiveness. And most importantly, this allows I&O to engage employees on their terms as opposed to forcing employees to come to them.

At this point it has been clearly established by many people (including us many times over) that social technologies are changing the way companies do business. But we want to determine the current reality of practitioners. Our clients constantly ask us "where is my organization compared to others in the use of social media?" We want to answer this and other questions like:

  • How do you define "social maturity" and why is it important to get there?
  • Which companies are ahead of the curve in the implementation of social technologies for both external use (i.e. for customers/consumers) and/or internal use (i.e. for employees/partners)?
  • What have been the biggest drivers of success?
  • What are the biggest challenges?
  • What steps do most organizations need to take and why?

Here’s how we want you to help:

  • If you work for an organization that markets products or services to consumers or businesses (i.e. "clients" in vendor speak), then please take this survey. We want to hear from anyone involved in social. For your efforts, we will share a free executive summary of the survey results.
  • If you are vendor, agency, consultant or even just a consumer interested in sharing your thoughts, we can't include you in the survey. But we do want to hear from you, so please feel free to comment on this blog with your thoughts. We promise to keep the conversation going and we will be writing a blog post on some of the findings when the research is published.

We want to hear from you, so please, share your thoughts.