April 2010
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'Social networking giving e-mail run for its money in biz space'

| Business Standard |

.Gartner, Inc, the information technology research and advisory company, predicts that by 2014 social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 per cent of business users. This is on the back of a rapidly-growing preference for using social media platforms.

"A lot has happened in a year within the social software and collaboration space. The growing use of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook by business users has resulted in serious enterprise dialogue about procuring social software platforms for the business," said Mark R Gilbert, research vice president at Gartner and co-chair of the Portals, Content and Collaboration (PCC) Summit.

Greater availability of social networking services inside and outside the firewall, coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead 20 per cent of the users to make a social network the hub of their business communications, said the report. It predicts that in the next several years, most companies will be building internal social networks andôor allowing business use of personal social network accounts. Social networking is expected to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.

"The rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode. E-mail will take on social attributes such as contact brokering while social networks will develop richer e-mail capabilities," said Matt Cain, research vice president at Gartner. "While e-mail has already almost fully penetrated the corporate space, we expect to see steep growth rates for sales of premises and cloud-based social networking services."

As part of its key predictions for social software, Gartner said that by 2012, over 50 per cent of enterprises will use activity streams that include microblogging, but standalone enterprise microblogging will have less than 5 per cent penetration.

Gartner said the huge popularity of the consumer-microblogging service Twitter, has led many organisations to look for an "enterprise Twitter" that provides microblogging functionality with more control and security features to support internal use between employees.

Enterprise users, according to the report, want to use microblogging for many of the same reasons that consumers do to share quick insights, to keep up with what colleagues are doing, to get quick answers to questions and so on.

"However, it will be very difficult for microblogging as a standalone function to achieve widespread adoption within the enterprise. Twitter's scale is a reason for its popularity," said Jeffrey Mann, research vice president for Gartner. "When limited to a single enterprise, that same scale is unachievable, reducing the number of users who will find it valuable. Mainstream enterprises are unlikely to adopt standalone, single-purpose microblogging products."

The report said that through 2012, over 70 per cent of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail. "When it comes to collaboration, IT organisations are accustomed to providing a technology platform (such as, e-mail, IM, Web conferencing) rather than delivering a social solution that targets specific business value. Through 2013, IT organisations will struggle with shifting from providing a platform to delivering a solution. This will result in over a 70 per cent failure rate in IT-driven social media initiatives. Fifty per cent of business-led social media initiatives will succeed, versus 20 per cent of IT-driven initiatives," said Gartner.

As we move towards the 3 billion phone mark across the world serving the purpose of providing communications and collaboration anytime anywhere, Gartner said it expects more end-users to spend significant time experiencing the collaborative tools on these devices. The report also predicts that through 2015, only 25 per cent of enterprises will routinely utilise social network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

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