Social Business: Does Social Media really make us more productive?

Fernando Polo

26 February 2014



Macroeconomic data from the US in recent years indicates that digital technology is not increasing the “output” of productivity per worker, and that the miracle promised by the Internet evangelists is a misconception. In the past 7 years, productivity has fallen to the levels at which it was prior to the popularization of the Internet, and at this rate, Americans will spend the next 100 years attempting to double their wealth.

And considering that a significant part of the promise of the Social Business is precisely that the social and digital tools enhance employee engagement and team collaboration, some will ask: “Does it make sense to invest in this “social enterprise” (Article in Spanish) or is it all talk?”

McKinsey was the first to gather data regarding the promise of the Social Business, and in December 2010 (Article in Spanish), they highlighted some of the potential benefits of the internal use of 2.0 technologies: they include access to internal experts; collaboration between functional silos, reduction of the “time to market” of products and services, including lower communication costs and travel expenses.

At Territorio creativo, we say that, through the internal use of the social media (Article in Spanish), “engagement” has increased and the costs of training new tercerianos has been reduced. In the last 4 years, we have incorporated about 160 people into the company. If we acknowledge that, thanks to our corporate culture and internal social tools (Article in Spanish), it takes a teceriano about three months to be truly “productive,” as opposed to the 4 months it would take another employee at another company with a structure and service similar to ours; then, we could say that we have gained 160 man-months, which, against our rates is a considerable amount of money. This, of course, we translate into a form of value delivered to our clients. 😉

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In a recent SAP whitepaper, it was said that the costs garnered from poor communication could rise to $26,000 per year, per employee, and that a corporate social network could increase worker productivity. The last McKinsey report on the “social economy” stated that improvements in collaborative environments through social technology can increase worker productivity by 20 to 25%. However, hourly productivity from 2005 to 2012 grew by 1.5% annually 1.5%, unlike the 2.75% in the previous decade. So, where does that leave us?

Are we more productive with social technology or not?

My views have been published in the second part of this post: Social Business: we will be more productive if they let us (Article in Spanish).