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Companies slow to adopt social media and mobile computing

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While mobile and social media platforms are transforming the way business gets done, many companies are slow to capitalize on this technology, according to a recently issued report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

While mobile and social media platforms are transforming the way business gets done, many companies are slow to capitalize on this technology, according to a recently issued report by PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC).

The 2012 Business Insights survey of CEOs of more than 400 private Canadian companies found that more than half (53 per cent) said mobile computing is their priority when it comes to technology development.

Almost half (47 per cent) also said they plan to use social media for sales and marketing purposes.

“If Canadian private company leaders are looking to grow their top line, they need to have a very good understanding of technology in general - but if they don’t, they need to invest the time in overcoming that learning curve because it’s a business imperative,” said Tahir Ayub, PwC’s Canadian private companies services leader.

But despite the majority’s desire to invest in mobile and social media, a quarter of Business Insights respondents said they have no plans to invest in mobile computing and even more than that (28 per cent), said they don’t plan to use social media at all.

“This reflects that organizations are unaware of the factors involved with managing social media, such as cost and labour, the lack of knowledge around the return on investment, and being wary of risks associated with social media,” said Aayaz Pira, PwC director, management and technology consulting, in a statement.

Seven per cent of survey respondents were engineering and construction firms.

“Social media is a fact of life,” said John Gamble, president of the Association of Consulting Engineering Companies-Canada (ACEC).

“To try not to understand it, to try not to leverage it, would be a missed opportunity.”

While the term social media is equated in some circles solely with Facebook and Twitter, Gamble said there are in fact many forms that can be utilized by companies.

LinkedIn is at the front of the line when it comes to ACEC member firms.

“Use of Twitter is growing, while Facebook is being utilized to some degree.” said Gamble, who tweets frequently on behalf of the association.

He said social media is in fact a platform that allows instantaneous communication and feedback, both in terms of transmitting and receiving information.

Used appropriately, social media can be advantageous for firms in any industry, he said.

“The key thing is that you have to understand what you are trying to achieve and how you hope to achieve it,” he said.

“Like any initiative, to get best results you need a game plan.”

With labour shortages and the recruitment of skilled staff as one of the top three issues for private companies in the next 12 months, PwC said social media can be a powerful way to attract and retain new talent.

Thirty-four per cent of respondents plan to use social media to do just that.

“Social media allows companies to take a targeted approach to finding the right talent and speaks directly to Millennials, a demographic group that has grown up with technology,” said Pira.

“Millennials expect to use the same technology in their personal and professional life in order to be productive in their jobs. If they realize companies are not using social media inside the organization, it’s going to be difficult to retain that talent.”

In terms of employee engagement, only 16 per cent of respondents using social media plan to use it to foster internal collaboration.

Pira said this is another area of improvement for private company leaders.

“The ability to collaborate and create new ideas with peers and companies in real time is quickly becoming one of the key differentiators between companies that can versus companies that can’t,” he said.

CEOs were surveyed in the summer of 2012 on the major issues affecting their business growth.

by Patricia Williams

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