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Observations on Europe and Social Business

by Anthony J. Bradley  |  March 1, 2012  |  1 Comment

I recently returned from a two week tour of northern Europe where I met with over 20 organizations to discuss their social business strategy efforts. I started in Copenhagen, then to Amsterdam, Edinburgh, London and finally Helsinki. I’m happy to say that it seems the book, “The Social Organization: How to Tap the Collective Genius of Your Employees and Customers” is gaining a good deal of traction in Europe. Last fall at Symposium in Barcelona I was impressed with the social business mentality I witnessed. It seems to be continuing. I have two more extended trips to Europe planned for this year and will keep you posted on what I experience. Here are some of my observations from my past travels in Europe.

  • Just about every organization was experiencing the less than successful practice of “Provide and Pray” approach and not gaining significant engagement. One organization spent considerable effort to develop a social collaboration strategy that was primarily technology platform based only to have it rejected by the executive board who basically said, “We don’t see the business value.”
  • I was happy that the vast majority of my meetings were being led by business leaders and not IT. IT leadership was often present as an important partner in social efforts but business (or mission) leadership was in the drivers seat.
  • I’m seeing growing social business\social collaboration strategy efforts in the financial industry and government (even local government) within these European countries
  • Some of the most innovative ideas and plans I’ve seen for employing mass collaboration for “game changing” business or mission value is in Europe.
  • The European organizations with whom I met seemed less consumed with marketing communications and the social Web (Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, etc.) and more focused on creating highly collaborative organizations (internally and externally).

Now, these are general observations from my recent travels and inquiry so it represents interactions with, in total, maybe 60 organizations so it isn’t necessarily statistically representative of all of Europe. But I still think they have value as observations.

Any observations from you on the state of social business in Europe? 


Anthony J. Bradley
10 years at Gartner
26 years in IT

Anthony J. Bradley is a group vice president in Gartner Research responsible for the research content that Gartner publishes through its three internet businesses (, and These responsibilities include creating and leading the research organization and infrastructure needed for the strategy formulation, planning, research, creation, editing, production and distribution of the content. He has four global teams of highly talented people who are advancing towards the world's greatest destination for content on how small businesses succeed through information technology.

Thoughts on Observations on Europe and Social Business

  1. Luke W says:

    Thanks for your insights Anthony. Sounds like alongside a few negatives there’s some positive indicators that the right forces are onboard and signs are that social business will slowly warm up through those organizations. Haydn Shaughnessy’s recent articles on Forbes have been debating whether or not social business must have a different moral goal to business as usual. There’s been a lot of talk on both sides for this. Be interested to hear what you sensed from Europe, whether social business integration was being linked to corporate moral goals?

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