Navigating the age of technological change: the untapped potential of social media

November 29, 2023 3 min read

Do you think social media is just a showcase for businesses, a channel for developing marketing strategies and connecting with customers? A recent study published in the Journal of Business Research will change your perspective.

“Organizational technological opportunism and social media: The deployment of social media analytics to sense and respond to technological discontinuities” is not just the title of a scholarly article, but a veritable handbook on how companies can and should use social media to anticipate and manage technological change. This study opens a window on a now obvious reality: social media are also a barometer of technology trends, and companies must learn to interpret them.

In a world where we are connected to these channels for about two and a half hours a day, it is easy to overlook the fact that comments, posts, and status updates are now much more than just messages launched into the digital infinity. They are signals, valuable clues, echoes of impending changes. With a global audience of 4.76 billion users according to estimates in the Digital 2023 report, companies that decide to exploit the potential of social media are faced with an endless sea of data. But how can they navigate these waters to intercept the faint signals that herald big changes?

Ludovico Bullini Orlandi, co-scientific director of Bologna Business School’s Master in HR & Organization, along with the other co-authors of the article, maps the organizational variables needed to decipher these signals. Through interviews with 14 managers from 6 different organizations and the analysis of 251 surveys of senior executives, the key elements for leveraging social media data are highlighted: structured analytical processes, specific skills and cross-functional integration.

This study is therefore an important read for anyone who wants to understand how companies can turn weak social media signals into a source of strategic information. It is a path to a still uncommon perspective of digital transformation, where social media are not just marketing tools, but true allies in anticipating the future. 

This article is based on
Organizational technological opportunism and social media: The deployment of social media analytics to sense and respond to technological discontinuities
Journal of Business Research
Ludovico Bullini Orlandi, Alessandro Zardini, Cecilia Rossignoli