Although both large and small businesses use social tools to help foster collaboration and communication, they do so in drastically different ways, new research shows.
A study by Microsoft Corp. found that although the top use for social tools such as LinkedIn, Facebook or Twitter in both large companies and small and medium-size businesses (SMBs) is communication with colleagues, those at smaller companies use the social tools for a broader range of tasks, including communication with customers, clients or vendors; and research of customers, clients and competitors.
On the other hand, people at large organizations are more likely to use social tools to find an expert within their own company.
"Social collaboration technologies represent a growing opportunity for partners, with strong demand from end users at both large companies and SMBs," said Jon Roskill, corporate vice president of Microsoft's Worldwide Partner Group. Each segment uses these technologies in different ways, he said. SMBs rely primarily on public FTP/cloud storage, external social networks and blogging platforms, while large companies prefer intranets, team sites and videoconferencing.
In contrast, the large and small businesses that haven't adopted social tools have similar reasons for not doing so: Both groups identified security concerns and productivity loss as the top risks.
"The consumerization of IT has changed the fundamental way in which businesses communicate, with enterprise social tools now following a bring-your-own-device model into the workplace," said Rebecca Sizelove, associate vice president for research firm Ipsos Public Affairs. "However, there are distinct differences between how SMBs and large companies adopt these tools, and technology decision makers still require a certain amount of education around the benefits social tools can provide."
The study was based on surveys of nearly 10,000 end users at SMBs and large companies in 32 countries.