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Andrew Greenwood


Director of Sales and Product

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McKinsey highlights how social tools are transforming companies


Not every social tool is created equal. That’s the verdict of McKinsey’s report ‘How social tools can reshape the organisation’. The tools creating the most value for businesses are the ones allowing collaboration in new and improved ways.

The report shows that the use of social tools has grown massively. 93% of respondents say their organisation uses at least one with employees now very likely to access them via mobile. Social tools are helping facilitate better use of digital technologies overall. When a process has been digitised, McKinsey reports benefits from the use of social tools alongside it; for example, following digitising marketing plans they cite a 27% increase in converting customers compared to an average increase of 20%. Benefits such as increased productivity and decreased costs are also mentioned in the report.

And the new generation of cloud-based real-time team collaboration technologies are creating particular excitement.

The influence of social technologies

Executives were asked which structural and management process changes they expected social technologies to trigger in their organisations. According to them, internal communication is the major one. It’s long been seen as something companies must become better at. Organisations have created entire departments to try to improve communication. Social tools are transforming that. Two thirds of executives believe they’ll enable employees to communicate more often with others in different teams, functions and business units.

Just under half of all respondents – and 66% of respondents using next generation social tools - believe their organisations will become much more fluid. In other words, work will be more project-based, less likely to be restricted within teams or functions, hierarchies will start to flatten and as a result transparency will surely start to increase.

Most companies currently use social tools in external-facing processes (like marketing and public relations) but adopters of the new generation of technologies are far more likely to use them in internal processes. And as well as being the ones reporting above average benefits from social technologies, it’s the respondents from companies already using next generation social tools that are most likely to anticipate dramatic changes as a result of them: for example, 72% anticipate teams will become self-organising.

What does the immediate future hold for companies considering social technologies?

McKinsey’s been involved in researching social technologies since they started to make an appearance and in its view these technologies have major potential to drive both greater organisational change and digitisation. Organisations must become capable of operating in more agile ways; social technologies allow them to experiment with structures that are far less hierarchical and more project-based.

McKinsey suggests the companies who’ll be the success stories will be those that can combine digital, social and big data technologies. Despite the fact that it’s relatively early days for collaboration-based tools, McKinsey believes companies have a lot to gain by using them as part of wider activity to get the maximum benefits from technology.

In what ways? Because it’ll help them get the most out of the resources they’ve invested in as they become more transparent and accessible to all. It will reduce the costs of communication and make it more effective. It’ll provide faster access to knowledge and internal experts. It will reshape the customer experience as interactions become more straightforward and seamless from their perspective. It’ll build strong relationships across and beyond the workplace as collaboration produces effective business outcomes. And it’ll make employees feel like they matter as their ideas are seen, contributions recognised and they’re give access to resources like never before.

Author Profile Picture
Andrew Greenwood

Director of Sales and Product

Read more from Andrew Greenwood

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