IFS Study on Enterprise 2.0: Businesses Aren’t Really Interested?

Well-known global ERP vendor IFS has just published a short report unveiling the results of a study that was conducted along with Advantage Business Media. Executive managers of multiple industrial medium-to-large organizations were asked their opinion on such hot topics as social media, its relationship to ERP, and how it affects ERP system selection.

The first and quite shocking output of the report is that business managers’ interest in ERP software with external social media sites has fallen in the 3 years since the previous study was conducted. Although the difference isn’t huge (about 4-5 percent) and probably lies within the degree of accuracy, it clearly shows that the overall interest isn’t higher than it was 3 years ago. There could be two possibilities:
  1. The study methodology isn’t perfect and allows significant fluctuations of responses. This is probably not the case.
  2. The numbers are correct and indeed reflect the reality—business leaders form their opinions on their own, and the media noise created around new IT concepts is nothing but hype. It takes time for new technologies to mature and then be approved and widely used by the business community. Some companies will certainly be early adopters, but they are in the minority.
And this makes perfect sense; the majority usually allow some time to technology to develop as companies potentially may be seriously affected by unproven or risky innovations.

Another explanation can be derived from the nature of social enterprise and social media itself as a concept. The idea of directly linking individuals and communities via the Internet has been around for a while, but intense and conscious use of such technologies by non-media businesses is only just beginning. The concept has also evolved from a basic approach of “knowing what customers think and say about my products and my company” to full-scale company-wide onslaught of powerful external communication instruments to allow quick and effective discussions between employees and other interested parties on current business issues. Virtually all Tier 1 and Tier 2 ERP vendors now offer a social application, either as part of standard delivery or as an additional package.

IFS is no exception. The vendor has developed the IFS Talk collaboration tool, which links individual users and user groups in a secure environment based on IFS Applications ERP software. Similar to Facebook and Twitter, it allows collaborative review and coordination of current matters, and simultaneously links those discussion to existing ERP data without the need to log in to the system separately. 

To sum up the findings of the IFS study, we can see that the overall interest of business executives in social media topics hasn’t deteriorated; it’s steady, and it will grow in parallel with the maturity level of the technology itself. The fact that social communication tools have become common for modern ERP packages implicitly confirms an already existing trend.
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