SINAGPORE: Nearly three-quarters of big companies in Asia Pacific currently use in-house social networks or plan to do so, with improved decision-making and collaboration seen as the main benefits they offer.

IDC, the insights group, and Microsoft, the IT giant, polled 352 executives in eight nations, including Australia, Indonesia, Malaysia, the Philippines, Singapore and South Korea.

Some 56% of featured firms already had in-house social networks, and 26% intended to introduce similar platforms in the next 18 months, leaving only 18% disinterested in these properties.

A 59% majority ranked "better problem solving" among the core benefits provided by such systems. Improved information sharing and cost savings on meetings, travel and so on logged 57% apiece.

Elsewhere, enhancing employee collaboration and effectively capturing the ideas and content created by staff both registered 53%, in front of searching for key people and skill sets on 51%.

For 45% of those questioned, heightened staff engagement and satisfaction assumed the same status, while 35% of contributors believed embracing such services could transform their company culture.

"Social isn't just a new set of tools – it's a new way of thinking about your organisation," Todd Cione, Microsoft's chief marketing and operations officer in Asia, said.

Over 50% of the businesses which utilised enterprise social platforms did so for customer support, while roughly half communicated with partners and other stakeholders.

The primary impetus behind these moves has resulted in part from the rapid expansion of Asia's internet audience from 418m people in 2007 to more than 1bn in 2012, the study suggested.

In reflection of this, Facebook, the social network, currently boasts 205m users in the region, equating to 27% of its members outside the US and Canada.

Cione said: "The rise of social media and networking is profoundly affecting the way organisations conduct their business and it's poised to be particularly impactful in Asia as enterprises encourage the sharing of ideas, rich conversations and deep collaboration, while empowering employees."

The key issues for corporations aiming to leverage these services was integrating them with other types of software, like customer relationship management and data analytics, the report added.

Data sourced from Microsoft; additional content by Warc staff