Social Technology = Efficiency?


Increasing employee productivity has long been a holy grail of business. How can executives squeeze even more out of their employees to drive profit? The answer must be employee productivity, right? That’s all good and well— but how?

How about building a comprehensive social technology infrastructure? Doubtful? So are many executives. There’s a wide belief that Facebook, Twitter, YouTube and other platforms are all about sharing what you had for lunch and the latest “cute kitten” video. But what if it really could increase productivity? A study recently published in Harvard Business Review suggests that this is not only a real possibility, but that it can deliver significant value to an organization.

According to the McKinsey Global Institute, internal social technologies can create between $900 billion and $1.3 trillion in value annually. These numbers are based on numerous case studies and in-depth research across four industries: consumer packaged goods, consumer finance, professional services and manufacturing. 

One-third of this value comes from applying social technologies to function-specific areas like product development, marketing and sales, but the real surprise is that McKinsey found that two-thirds of that value would come from using social technologies to improve collaboration and communications. Technologies such as Yammer and other tools allow for a far more efficient way of employees being able to connect to one another—even better than email. In fact, the study estimates that an organization’s most important—and expensive—employees spend 28 percent of their workday answering, writing or responding to email. Of those same employees, 19 percent of their time is spent trying to track down information and only 14 percent is spent on collaborating with co-workers. If you could shift some of that “email time” to “collaboration” time, think of the benefits. Social technology can do that.

Social technologies enable companies to take conversations and data that once lived in perpetuity in individual email boxes and make them archivable and searchable in a more public realm. These once-private messages also can become enriched by comments and additions by other employees as well. Your employee in Seattle can raise a question that is ultimately answered by someone in Shanghai.

Implementation of these technologies—as with any change—starts at the top, though. A company that is willing to take a leap and take a chance needs to develop guidelines and expectations and encourage usage. If not, employees might find it more interesting to watch videos of cute babies and college football. 

Has your company implemented any technologies that are driving productivity up? If so, share below!