Increasingly, I find myself in conversations about whether, and if so how much, enterprises are adopting social media or user generated content technologies as part of their normal business activity.

The question sometimes gets discussed in terms of how much the executives of various firms “get” the technology. Or don’t. Till now, what I’ve read or heard – and, I have to say, have passed on – has been pretty much in the anecdotal category, rather than based on real research, with numbers.

So I was very interested to open today a report on the actual use of social media tools by IT decision-makers and “influencers” around the world. The report provides some fascinating insights and food for thought – and for consultancy planning.

The ITtoolbox/PJA IT Social Media Index – Wave II – report presents the results of a study carried out in November last year among members of ITtoolbox. The first of these reports was based on research in April/May 2007. The study looked at:

  • the influence of social media tools through stages of the purchase process
  • the credibility of online communities as an extension of personal networks

The study defined user-generated content and social media tools as:

  • blogs
  • podcasts
  • online communities
  • wikis, and
  • profiles/social networking

Topline findings for the latest report include:

  • Topic-based networks and personal networks are the most important sources of information in the consideration and final evaluation stages of purchase for all job roles
  • IT decision-makers rated topic-based communities as the most important source of information through all stages of the technology purchase process
  • Between Wave I and Wave II of this survey, there has been a noticeable increase in social media consumption among IT decision-makers and influencers

As a social media consultant and coach, another finding that I found particularly interesting was that:

There is an unmet need and significant opportunity for online social networks. All categories of IT decision-makers and influencers expressed a need for more online networking communities. (emphasis in original)

So much for information overload and social media fatigue!

Asia results

The report includes detailed breakdowns for Asia. These breakdowns illustrate graphically the finding that IT decision-makers and influencers in Asia are avid consumers of social media: in fact they spend more time with social media/user generated content than do their European and North American counterparts.

Thanks to Jeremiah Owyang for the heads up (via Twitter) for this report.

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Des Walsh is an executive coach. He helps business owners and entrepreneurs worldwide deal effectively with the feeling of being left behind or overwhelmed, or both, about social media – especially LinkedIn - and how to engage safely and effectively with social media to help grow their business. Connect with Des on LinkedIn, Google+ and Twitter. And to stay in the loop, get Des’s weekly Social Business Bites (select snippets of his "best of the week" online finds).