Mckinsey Report: Social Technologies can Dramatically Increase Productivity

 In All Things Productivity, Blog

Finding what you need isn’t a problem isolated to file storage. From email to knowledge, finding the information you need is increasingly difficult in the age of unlimited storage. One report by McKinsey & Company, a global management consulting firm, shows that one solution to modern search issues lies in social technologies.


Social technologies, by the way, are not limited to Facebook. We’re talking about a variety of tools, from internal knowledge sharing networks, collaboration tools, social networks, share workspaces and more. Even the ability to share and collaborate on files is a social technology that is transforming not only how we work, but our processes and efficiencies. The report defined “social technologies” as “the products and services that enable social interactions in the digital realm, and thus allow people to connect and interact virtually.”


While there is a broad range of social technologies used by enterprises today, the report specifies:

  • Social networks
  • Blogs/ microblogs
  • Ratings and reviews
  • Social commerce
  • Wikis
  • Discussion forums
  • Shared workspaces
  • Crowdsourcing
  • Social gaming
  • Media and file sharing

How big of a problem is finding the information you need? And how much do social technologies address this problem? According to the report, knowledge workers spend 28 hours a week writing emails, searching for information and collaborating internally. The report goes on to say that social technologies not only address the problem, but to the tune of quite a chunk of money.

“We find that social technologies, when used within and across enterprises, have the potential to raise the productivity of the high-skill knowledge workers that are critical to performance and growth in the 21st century by 20 to 25 percent,” it finds. This problem is a costly one too, with an estimated $900 billion to $1.3 trillion in value that could be unlocked by social technologies.


The report examines how a knowledge worker allocates time during an average workweek.

  • On average a knowledge worker spends 28% of the workweek reading and answering email. Social technologies can bring about a productivity improvement of up to 30% here.
  • Knowledge workers spend 19% of their workweek searching and gathering information. By leveraging social technologies workers can see a productivity increase of up to 35%.
  • 14% of a knowledge worker’s week is spent on internal communication and collaboration. Social technologies can increase productivity here by 25 to 35%.
  • The application of social technology to a knowledge worker’s role-specific tasks can bring a saving of up to 6 hours, resulting in a 15% productivity increase.
  • The report offers a number of ways that businesses could leverage social technologies to increase both efficiency and revenue.


The report specified a number of ways social technologies can add value in organizational functions within and across enterprises. The report pinpoints exactly where in the enterprise social technologies can be used.

  • In terms of product development, social technologies can be leveraged to co-create products and also to derive customer insights.
  • Social technologies can be utilized by operations and distribution as forecasting and monitoring tools and can also be used to distribute business processes.
  • Social technologies can be applied to marketing and sales to derive customer insights, communicate and interact for marketing purposes, generate and foster sales leads, and utilized as a means of social commerce.
  • In customer service social technologies can be used as a customer care outlet.
  • These tools can also be used as a business support function ie to improve collaboration and communication while also matching talent to tasks.
  • On an enterprise-wide level, social technology can improve intra- or inter-organizational collaboration and communication. This technology can also help match talent to tasks.
  • Is your business taking full advantage of the social, interactive, collaborative age of information technology?

Visit McKinsey’s site to view the full report and listen to MGI principal Michael Chui discuss the potential value in using social tools to enhance communications, knowledge sharing, and collaboration within and across enterprises.

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