A team of British researchers has set out to explore how small businesses are utilising social business to aid their collaboration. The aim was to both explore what benefits could be derived from the use of social business, and to uncover some of the most effective ways small companies were currently making use of social tools.
The researchers interviewed 12 small businesses to find out how they were using social tools, and the benefits they were seeing. The 12 companies chosen were all early adopters of social and collaborative working.
You can see below a breakdown of the companies included in the research.
The benefits seen were broadly broken down into 5 main categories:
- Improved internal operational efficiency
- Enhanced capability
- More effective external communications
- Customised service offering
- Lifestyle benefits
You can see a summary of the results for each company below
As you can see, most of the benefits could be defined as tactical rather than strategic. Many of the companies studied for instance utilised professional social networks such as LinkedIn to drum up business, but few were taking advantage of social tools to manage their workforce or supplier network.
The report suggests that a large number of potential benefits from social business are still untapped by the small business market, who primarily use social tools for marketing purposes.
Whilst the research is relatively interesting, one hopes that there are positive deviants out there that are tapping into more recent social platforms for things such as staff management, performance management, finance and product development. The research was also limited to employees with fewer than ten employees, so there was an undoubted flaw in the research from a size perspective.
So, in the interest of finding some great examples of social business use in the small business sector, I’d love to hear from you in the comments if you’re a small company that is doing some cool things with social business tools.