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Channel Partners of India Shy Away From Social Media?

Social Media is a buzzword in global IT. Researchers and ITcompanies are full of praise for social media and its significance but theground reality, especially on the channel front, is little different.

'The Getting Closer to the Customer Report' from the 'EconomistIntelligence Unit' (EIU) found that globally only 48 percent of organizationsuse social media and networking sites for customer engagement, and only 20percent use mobile applications, whereas the majority continues to lean on thecompany website (90 percent) and email (88 percent).

The survey results are not very different to the social behaviorof the average Indian channel partner community. Most enterprise partners shyaway from using social media in their business. Reasons can be many, but at theend of the day, Social media is still not a cornerstone of their business.

It is Unprofessional

Partners do not accept Social media as a mode ofcommunication yet. Mathur at Filix believes that a partner can never approachhis customer or OEM through Social media because it looks very unprofessional."Although we have our Facebook and Linked In pages, but we are limited toshowcasing our products on these platforms. One cannot sell its servicesthrough Social media as it requires a personal credibility and direct touchwith the client which Social Media still doesn't provide us."

Although Gartner reports that 60 percent companies worldwideare expected to watch workers' social media use for security breaches by 2015, itis a notion in the partner community that using social media internally willnever be a successful bet. Gaurav Mathur, CEO, Filix Consulting, explains, "Thesedays social media is used for recruitments but it's not easy to use itinternally. The moment a company starts integrating social media, the employeesstart stepping back, which eventually does not solve the purpose and makes it afailure attempt."

Not in the Culture

Partner companies still see social media as a platform forpersonal usage. Enterprisepartners don't see any value of social media in their sales system. Moreover,it is not often that OEMs communicate with partners or customers through socialmedia platforms. Sandeep Vig, Founder and Managing Director at Chandigarh-basedSpectra Computech says, "Being enterprise partners, we have nothing to do withSocial media. It is meant for individuals, especially the younger generation."

"The best kept secret is that when whole IT industry talksabout using social media, nobody does what they preach. OEMs and Distributorshave not created any social media platforms. Most of our communication andinformation gathering is still done on email or through company websites. Whenthey don't initiate then why would we go and spend our time on social media?" headds.

No Knowledge, NoInfrastructure

This reluctance to engage with social media also stems froma lack of understanding of its capabilities. While companies like Facebook,Twitter, Linked In, etc., are aggressively offering business initiatives,partners are still unaware of the significance of going social in theirbusiness. Debashish Dasgupta, Marketing Manager at Kolkata-based ComputerExchange, says, "To be honest, we don't have proper knowledge about how muchvalue we can get out of it. And we are always confused from where we shouldstart social media and why."

"Even if we initiate social media, often customersthemselves are reluctant to use it. The industry on the whole still prefers thetraditional ways since decision-making powers are restricted to a few," says MekalaiR, Director of Chain Sys India.

Adoption is further impeded by lack of resources. "We alsodon't have an infrastructure for having social media on board. We are forced touse other platforms like Facebook and Twitter because we do not have our ownsocial media platform. Then we are always hesitant to create one because westill don't know if we really need social media for our comparatively smallerbusiness." Dasgupta elaborates.

It is also worrying that many companies that have integratedsocial media are late to the party and have not clearly assigned responsibilityfor these channels within their companies.

The EIU report also found that 43 percent of companies beganusing social media only in the last year, and only 11 percent of businesseshave been using social media to communicate with customers for three years ormore.

These figures, along with the partner reactions, indicatethat social media is still a just buzzword. How long it would need to enterpartners business, only time can tell.


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