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What is the State of Social IT Research and Adoption?

Today, ITinvolve announced The Social IT Index, the first of its kind survey into the state of research and adoption of Social IT capabilities by IT organizations. The Index is based on the survey responses from nearly 400 US IT professionals, managers, and executives, and was conducted during the second half of May 2013.

The survey results clearly show that the state of Social IT research and adoption is quite active.

  • About a third (31%) of survey respondents indicated they have documented questions and answers about what Social IT can mean for their organizations, with 40% of respondents from organizations over 1,000 employees and 48% of those in job roles of manager or higher saying the same.
  • 37% of respondents said they have researched vendor Social IT capabilities and 44% said they have invested internal resources in prototyping Social IT capabilities. Again the numbers are higher for large companies (49% and 59%, respectively) and those in manager or executive roles (51% and 55%, respectively).
  • Slightly more than a third of survey respondents (35%) indicated they have implemented at least one Social IT capability, most commonly a Facebook-style wall for their IT organization.

Respondents also provided their feedback on the value of various Social IT capabilities naming their Top 5 to be:

  1. The ability to facilitate collaboration among individuals in the context of a specific IT activity like triaging an incident, planning a change, or determining the root-cause of a recurring problem.
  2. The ability to actively promote and push IT knowledge to specific individuals based on their role.
  3. A social object model for IT process activities like incidents, changes, problems, etc.
  4. A Facebook-style wall for their IT organization
  5. The ability to enhance traditional IT processes with social capabilities (such as weighing in on a change among key stakeholders prior to a formal change approval)

Despite all of the research and adoption underway, only 19% of those surveyed said they had a formal plan for Social IT drafted or approved (managers and executives again reported higher results with 31% saying they have a plan drafted or approved). Of those respondents with a formal plan, just half (51%) said they have quantified the expected benefits.

Other top level findings reveal that 58% of respondents have Social IT communication policies in place in their organizations (67% for large company respondents) and 25% say they have rewards and recognition in place for Social IT or are considering doing so.

So what does this mean for you?

If you haven’t yet started on a Social IT initiative, I’d encourage you to read the full Social IT Index report, which is available free of charge and without requiring any registration. Have a look at what your peers are reporting about their Social IT activity and start to document questions and answers about what Social IT can mean for your organization. How could greater collaboration and stakeholder engagement help you to speed the time to plan and approve changes, for example? How could more real-time knowledge capture and sharing speed the mean-time-to-restore service? How could improving collaboration between development and operations teams ensuring smoother application releases?  These are just a few of the possible questions you might ask.

Once you’ve documented your questions and answers, I’d encourage you to develop a formal plan with expected quantified benefits. This will help ensure your project is  judged objectively and also will help you secure funding if needed. Then have a look at what your current IT management software vendors and other vendors offer that might assist you in addition to what you could consider developing on your own.

For those of you who are already well down the path with Social IT, and from the survey results there are quite a lot of you, be sure you’ve got a plan with quantified expected results in place, and if you don’t, start building one. Otherwise, you’ll be putting the measurement of the success or failure of your efforts in a risky, subjective position. And if you don’t have a communication policy in place around Social IT yet, I’d encourage you to do so. Having such a policy will give your IT team the guidance they need to be free to use Social IT capabilities for communicating within IT and between IT and your end users. Finally, take a serious look at how rewards and recognition efforts can help you achieve your goals. Even something as basic as recognizing employees during an all-hands meeting (e.g. for using Social IT capabilities to resolve issues or better collaborate to plan a change that resulted in no adverse business impact) can go a long way toward ensuring employees know Social IT is something their management supports and encourages.

To summarize, this inaugural Social IT Index reveals what might be characterized as a real “growing up” of Social IT maturity. What may have begun on a whim to explore how social principles in our personal lives might apply to our IT work lives now seems to be trending toward a fundamental rethinking of how IT gets work done. And that bodes very well for IT organizations, which have been characterized for a long time as operating with a silo mentality and putting too much focus on rigid processes that can stifle knowledge worker creativity and innovation.

Matthew Selheimer
VP, Marketing

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