The debate on the role of social networks and technologies within the corporate environment isn’t over. While many businesses have adopted social media for marketing and customer service purposes – albeit with different degrees of maturity – the full potential of social business and social in the workplace is still to be understood by most.

Furthermore, there is clearly no consensus on the role and potential of social networks in the workplace. The debate on the benefits of social networking in the workplace, has even taken a somewhat unexpected turn.

While the adoption of mobile and social technologies in the workplace was – and often still is – a ‘user-driven’ evolution (consumerization, BYOD,…), there is a disconnect in how the “value of social networking to build and maintain workplace culture,” is perceived by executives and employees. mentions research by Deloitte and Harris Interactive, revealing that 41% of executives believe social networking helps to ‘build and maintain workplace culture’. However, only 21% of employees share that view.

Moreover, there are significant differences between executives and employees regarding other benefits produced by social media, Natalie Brandweiner writes.

The report shows some surprising results. 45% of execs believe social media provides benefits compared with only 27% of staff, Brandweiner notes. And, whilst 38% of senior staff claimed social media allows for increased management transparency, only 17% of junior staff believes the same, Brandweiner continues (read full post here).

Social is about resources and benefits as well

It might come as a surprise that there are such discrepancies regarding the perceived value of social in the workplace. However, it clearly indicates that social is not ‘just something you do’. Social networks offer several benefits and as all things ‘human’ come with some risks. However, in order to turn these benefits into advantages that are perceived as valuable by all stakeholders, efforts are needed.

Collaboration is not just about tools. It’s about compelling reasons to collaborate. Transparency is not just about sharing. It’s about sharing more and better. The workplace culture is not just about management and vision. It’s also about resources, processes and benefits for those involved.

Social networking and social business are not going away any time soon. As always, making the most of them is about working together towards tangible successes that focus on corporate and personal values and removing the mentioned discrepancies. Trust and clear communication are crucial in this regard, as are the needs of all involved.

In the end, employees are customers as well and isn’t understanding the needs of customers what it’s all about? Finally, projects and programs that actually work are essential to move from general perceptions to experience-based perceptions. The proof of the pudding is still in the eating.