Business Gets Social Innovation Key Initiative Overview



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Business and IT leaders seek help in applying social strategies to achieve enterprise goals. These goals range from improving process performance and product/service delivery to cultural change and engagement practices to serve employees, partners and customers more effectively.


Socially driven processes are disrupting traditional approaches to business. Social techniques and tools allow people to connect and interact with unprecedented speed and ease as business gets social.

Social initiatives pervade the enterprise and they are becoming part of every activity. Participants in these social interactions may include employees, business partners, customers, prospects and others. Social media can improve collaboration, spur creativity and facilitate decision making. Benefits can lead to increased sales, better customer service and more effective business processes.

Social business also brings challenges by:

  • Making it hard to quantify business value

  • Changing expectations of how the enterprise should interact with its constituencies (norms and etiquettes in flux)

  • Entailing risks (compliance and security needs cannot be ignored)

  • Continuing to evolve (new vendors and technologies emerging, and established vendors in adjacent markets adding social functions)

Gartner publishes research that helps CIOs and IT leaders, as well as other business and technical professionals, develop an enterprise strategy for social business and address the challenges they will face in executing this strategy.

Figure 1. Business Gets Social Innovation
Research image courtesy of Gartner, Inc.

Source: Gartner (June 2013)

Consider These Factors to Determine Your Readiness

Successful social business initiatives require a specific purpose, coupled with a meaningful organizational goal. Enterprises also need techniques for overcoming the following hurdles:

  • Determining which social business strategy affords the best enterprise value

  • Executing a social business blueprint, despite critical uncertainties

  • Creating an engagement initiative that best serves each constituency

  • Encouraging people to work together while embracing significant organizational change

Geographical Variances

Enterprises use social media all over the globe. However, the manifestations of social business vary, depending on:

  • Laws and regulations governing the disclosure and handling of information

  • Cultural expectations of engagement, relationship building and privacy

  • Local market conditions — for example, in China, local players offer alternatives to many solutions popular in the West

Strategic Planning Assumptions

  • By 2016, 50% of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks — 30% of these will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.

  • Through 2015, 80% of social business efforts will not achieve the intended benefits due to inadequate leadership and an overemphasis on technology.

  • In 2017, the majority of all new user-facing applications will exhibit gamified social mobile fusion.

  • By 2015, 75% of organizations will adopt software-as-a-service social media monitoring and control to prevent and detect security breaches.

Technology Providers

Vendors are rushing to fulfill the needs of the social business market. However, it is not homogeneous, with many competitors and very diverse products. To distinguish between them, look at the purpose and target audience:

  • is one example of a vendor offering internal social networking to improve employee collaboration, integrated into a process context.

  • Jive is an example of a vendor providing social environments to engage external participants, including customers, citizens, suppliers, members, alumni, the public and associations.

  • Lithium Technologies is an example of a vendor that offers social for CRM applications to engage prospects or customers specifically for sales, marketing and customer support.

  • Facebook is an example of how a public social network site can be used by organizations to engage individuals.

  • NetBase is an example of a vendor that provides specialist technologies.

Conduct Your Business Gets Social Initiative Using This Structured Approach

  • Concepts Defined: Identify the impact of social business and engagement initiatives on processes, organizational structures, and employee, customer and partner relationships. Confront issues such as governance and metrics in the face of change.

  • Implications and Scenarios: Determine where social interactions can create new business value for all constituencies. Explore how market dynamics and industry variations apply to your strategy blueprint.

  • Technologies and Vendors: Examine the impact of disruptive nexus trends such as social networking, mobile technology, big data and cloud computing on the enterprise's architecture, deployment approach and vendor relationships.

© 2013 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartners research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

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