Love it or loath it, social media has become a part of our professional lives. Here at Quality, social media has become part of who we are as we use LinkedIn, Facebook and Twitter to communicate the latest in quality-related news, events and technology to you. According to a recent study, manufacturers want their business tools to take on a more social network-like presence.

According to a recent study of more than 260 manufacturing software decision makers released by IFS North America (Itasca, IL), manufacturers want to see more integration between social networking tools and their enterprise resources planning (ERP) systems with more social network-like, enterprise 2.0 functionality.

For those unfamiliar with Enterprise 2.0, Andrew McAfee, who coined the term, defines it as “the use of emergent social software platforms within companies, or between companies and their partners or customers. Social software enables people to rendezvous, connect or collaborate through computer-mediated communication and to form online communities.”

The IFS study found that while 40% of survey respondents said that ERP and social networking integration was extremely or very important, the majority indicated that they want their ERP system to help them perform functions typically associated with social networks and other Web-based collaboration tools. Sixty two percent of respondents said they want their ERP system to “capture and record the knowledge of senior experienced engineers and professionals so that it becomes part of [the] corporate knowledge base.” Among manufacturers with more than $1 billion in revenue, 72% indicated that they wanted this capability.

IFS North America Chief Technical Officer Rick Veague says, “Enterprise 2.0 and social media tools are designed to draw information out of people, to get them to talk. This will become more of a business critical issue as the current generation of senior manufacturing operations and maintenance professionals prepare for retirement, only to be replaced by a smaller, less experienced but more technologically sophisticated generation. Wikis, threaded discussion boards and other features of social media will become common fixtures in enterprise software.”

Another recent study by employment agency Manpower Inc. backs up Veague. According to the Manpower study, engineering and engineering technicians top the list of high demand, difficult-to-fill positions, across the country. “From our research it is clear that across the country employers are experiencing a mismatch between the talent their businesses need and the skills and abilities potential employees possess,” said Jonas Prising, president of Manpower North America.

Are you currently using social media in your work place? If you are using social media, in what capacity is it being used? Share your social media successes and frustrations with me at[email protected]or with other Quality readers onLinkedIn.