Each year, IDC magazine undertakes a Social Business Survey as the role of social media assumes an increasingly more important role in marketing and communications for companies of every size.
This year's survey showed a distinct difference from previous reports, as social business has matured in terms of customer service and engagement.
The range of social media has increased into a series of subsets that businesses break down as customer experience, sales enablement, digital commerce, enterprise social network (ESN) and innovation management, Forester Research found when it conducted the IDC survey.
The latest findings also reflect a growing desire to extend internal social initiatives beyond company firewalls. The sales of software that runs corporate social networks are expected to grow more than 60 percent yearly, and will be a $6.4 billion business by 2016, according to the study.
"As enterprise social software grows into enterprise social networks (ESNs), solution functionalities like profiles, activity streams, and blogs have quickly become assumed," said Vanessa Thompson, IDC's research manager for Enterprise Social Networks and Collaborative Technologies. "The marked shift in the buying behavior of solutions in 2012 highlights the need to extend outside the company firewall and include customers, partners and suppliers in the feedback and business workflow."
In the same way that social media has become an essential part of business strategy, companies that embrace changes in everyday communications also show their ability to move forward with new products. Internet faxing, for instance, has become an accessible and affordable way to send faxes to email without the need to equip a workplace with fax machines and supplies.
If the Social Business Survey reflects innovation among businesses, it also shows the heightened need to address security. Of the 700 senior executives polled across the U.S., 80 percent considered network security their biggest concern.