Social networking used to be considered about as far from manufacturing concerns as one could get. But things are changing rapidly, and these days enterprises are starting to use a new group of social networking tools designed for implementation within enterprise environments to increase collaboration and, ultimately, competitiveness.
In June of this year, the Manufacturing Leadership Council partnered with Dassault Systèmes and Microsoft to present a Think Tank session on the topic of “Enterprise Social Networking: Fostering Corporate-Wide Collaboration.”
The session uncovered a lot of interesting facts, trends and ideas, so I thought I’d share some of them here.
- First, we heard about a research report by the Manufacturing Leadership Council on “The Collaborative Future: Driving Enterprise Social Networking in Manufacturing.” This report found that enterprise social networks are growing rapidly, and that manufacturers are increasing their investments in it, even while they struggle to understand it. The most common applications are messaging and meetings; the biggest users so far are sales, marketing and services groups.
- Next, a report called “Perspective on the Value of Social Networking for Manufacturers” was presented by Eric Green. He proposed that enterprise social networking would soon impact other areas of manufacturing such as product design and quality, where real-time market data can better allow manufacturers to be more proactive in resolving problems and seizing new opportunities. In particular, companies with high levels of product and supply chain complexity stand to benefit the most from these collaborative efforts.
- Finally, the session ended with an open discussion among Manufacturing Leadership Council members and attendees at the summit. Here are some of the most interesting ideas I heard:
- Manufacturers are not measuring the effectiveness of social networking yet, but they’re increasing adoption of it anyway … nobody wants to be left behind
- Executives are most excited about the potential for increasing the speed of idea generation and execution within their companies, as well as the promise of market influence and thought leadership
- Monitoring and responding to customer experiences and comments in real time is seen as a major value
- Not surprisingly, enterprise social networking is growing most rapidly where senior leaders not only support the technology, but have actively used it themselves
- Manufacturers believe a new generation of younger employees will help drive accelerated adoption of enterprise social networking
I’ll end with what I think is one of the most important conclusions of the summit: adopting enterprise social networking will help attract a new high-performing, next-generation workforce. These future workers use these tools in their daily lives. They’ve grown up with them. They will expect them in their jobs.
Like it or not—it appears that manufacturers will need to adopt social networking if they intend to recruit the best people and remain competitive.
Interested to learn more and hear about a customer case study? Register for a free webinar featuring Frost & Sullivan and Manufacturing Leadership Council representatives and Tim Rowland, a vice president at Lexmark, in a deeper discussion on this topic. Register now.