A survey released today underscores the importance of social to business, but also reveals the challenges businesses have dealing with the amount and types of data produced by social.Social media software company and consumer ratings giant Nielsen surveyed employees in medium to large-scale enterprises across North America, the United Kingdom, and Australia, and found that while 88% recognize the importance of social, 60% have trouble taking their data and turning it into something actionable.The survey also revealed that the use of social is becoming more widespread in companies, but that departments are not always working together. Three of four respondents say that social plays an expanding role in their companies, but the majority (64%) concedes that aligning strategies across departments is difficult.“One of the things revealed by the survey is the need for education around social,” says Jeanette Gibson VP, Customer Success and Community at Hootsuite. “Companies need to learn how to drive their social data, how to understand it, and how to make it useful.”Gibson says that companies need foster more collaboration around social, and figure out how to connect it to their business strategies. “It was surprising to us how far behind some businesses are on making the shift from tactical to strategy,” Gibson adds.It is clear, however, that business understands the value of social for interacting with customers and influencers. A majority of the respondents (84%) view building relationships with existing customers as the inherent value of social media, followed by the ability to learn about the company’s reputation (81%), and to monitor external communication (79%).Additionally, 74 percent of organizations value social media’s capability in resolving customer complaints and questions. “Businesses get that social is really about building relationship with customers—connecting with them and understanding their needs,” says Gibson.