Is Social Media Vital to Your Company?

Will social media improve productivity?  Is it vital to the company’s success?  Will “employees” use the media?  A recent study provides some interesting insights and evidence.

Workers using social networking sites instead of doing their jobs has long been the bane of human resources departments across every industry.  However, a recent survey questioning oil and gas professionals has revealed that 40% of them believe that companies who encourage the use of social media tools, including social networking sites such as Facebook, to share knowledge and information would boost productivity.

The survey, released today at the Microsoft Middle East & Africa Global Energy Forum 2009 in Dubai and carried out by computer software giant Microsoft Corp and management consultancy Accenture, found that despite the findings, only one in four of the oil and gas professionals questioned reported using the said tools to capture and share information within their respective companies.

The survey questioned a broad spectrum of professionals across the global oil and gas industry including, industry engineers, geo-scientists and business managers. It found that 70% believe collaboration and knowledge sharing are vital for driving revenue cutting costs and health and safety. In spite of this most of the respondents admitted that face-to-face meetings, e-mails and conference calls are still mainly used even though more sophisticated technology is freely available.

The survey also reports that 61% of respondents admitted to spending at least an hour a day searching for information and knowledge sources necessary for them to carry out their jobs. With an estimated 65,000 engineering professionals currently working in the global oil and gas industry this translates into a potential loss of 10 million man-hours a year, that roughly translates as a US$485 million loss to the industry (according to U.S. Department of Labor salary statistics)..

“During this time of economic upheaval, when every dollar counts and effective decision-making is crucial, new technologies such as social media tools can help oil and gas industry professionals find information, collaborate and generally be more productive,” Ali Faramawy, vice-president, Microsoft International said.

“In an environment with fewer workers and less resources, this is incremental productivity our industry can use in finding new reserves, improving execution of capital projects, driving new innovations and reducing costs,” he added.

Whether companies in the oil and gas sector actually incorporate the social media technologies into their businesses remains to be seen. Only 37% of the respondents in the survey think that their respective companies have the foresight to encouraging knowledge sharing by using the said tools.

“Companies are dealing with several trends right now, not only the aging workforce walking out the door with decades of knowledge, but also experienced hires coming into their businesses who need to understand a new corporate culture,” said Omar Boulos, Accenture’s Middle East Managing Executive .

“Companies have an opportunity to supplement their existing collaboration capabilities with newer tools such as podcasts and social networks to accelerate the sharing of knowledge, increase teaming and augment communication between their workforces in different regions,” he added.


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