A Kellogg School study found positive effects of an internal social networking system at a major credit card company.
As more companies implement enterprise social media tools, Paul Leonardi, a professor of communication at Northwestern University, wanted to evaluate their usefulness. The credit card company was installing "A-Life," and Leonardi compared two groups, marketing and operations, to see the impact. The marketing group was given access to the system, while the operations group was not. Before the six-month period, employees were asked who within the organization knew what—an important question for knowledge management and for getting work done.
After using the site rather than email, the marketing group reported a 31% improvement to find information and a 71% improvement in finding people who knew those with needed information.
Perhaps most interesting is that younger employees were the most skeptical of the system, as a Kellogg article explains:
"...he found that use differed by age: younger employees across the company were generally more skeptical of the tool. 'So many young people use social media tools'—like Facebook and Twitter—' their lives daily,' and those tools are really for social, non-work-related communication, says Leonardi. This, he believes, made it harder for younger employees to embrace social technology in the workplace. 'They would say, "Oh, I don’t want to be posting things my boss would see." … On the other hand, the senior employees didn’t have that same concern. For them, the technology was another mode for communicating about work-related matters.'"
- What, if any, social networking tools have you used at work? What do you see as the benefits and potential pitfalls?
- Are you surprised at the results about younger employees? Why or why not?