Five Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond
Listed here are five ways in which social media and social software will evolve to exert its influence on the enterprise. The predictions focus on offerings ranging from team collaboration to dynamic social networking applications that offer rich profiles and activity streams.
"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. “Success in social software and collaboration will be characterized by a concerted and collaborative effort between IT and the business.”
So here are the five key predictions for social software:
1. Social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications
2. Enterprises will use popular social activity streams but with lower penetration
3. A majority of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail through 2012
4. Collaboration and communications apps designed on PCs will increasingly imitate similar mobile applications
5. Enterprises will routinely reduce utilising social network analysis to improve performance and productivity
By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications. Greater availability of social networking services both inside and outside the firewall, coupled with changing demographics and work styles will lead 20 percent of users to make a social network the hub of their business communications. During the next several years most companies will be building out internal social networks and/or allowing business use of personal social network accounts. Social networking will prove to be more effective than e-mail for certain business activities such as status updates and expertise location.
Gartner recommends organisations develop a long-term strategy for provisioning and consuming a rich set of collaboration and social software services, and develop policies governing the use of consumer services for business purposes. Companies should also solicit input from the business community on what collaboration tools would be most helpful.
By 2012, enterprises will use popular social activity streams but with lower penetration. 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 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 Jeffrey Mann, research VP for Gartner, believes microblogging within an enterprise cannot be expected to have the same scale of popularity as twitter simply because of the smaller user target base who will find it usable.
Through 2012, a majority 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 percent failure rate in IT-driven social media initiatives. Fifty percent of business-led social media initiatives will succeed, versus 20 percent of IT-driven initiatives.
Enterprises will need to develop entirely new skill sets around designing and delivering social media solutions. A dearth of methods, technologies and tools will impede the design and delivery of social media solutions in the near term. But long term, enterprises will realize that social media is not a 'hit or miss' activity naturally prone to high failure rates, and that a calculated approach to social media solution delivery must be an IT competency.
Within five years, collaboration and communications applications designed on PCs will imitate similar mobile applications. Gartner expects more end users to spend significant time experiencing the collaborative tools on these mobile devices. The experience with these tools for all who use them will enable the user to handle far more conversations within a given amount of time than their PCs simply because they are easier to use. Just as the iPhone impacted user interface design on the desktop, the lessons in the mobile phone collaboration space will dramatically affect PC applications, many of which are derivatives of decades-old platforms based on the PBX or other older collaboration paradigm. According to Ken Dulaney, vice president at Gartner, organisations need to lay their hands on leading smartphones to understand them and find out how their applications can be used to leverage business tasks.
Through 2015, very few enterprises will routinely utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity. Social network analysis is a useful methodology for examining the interaction patterns and information flows that occur among the people and groups in an organisation, as well as among business partners and customers. Social network analysis will remain an untapped source of insight in most organisations primarily owing to the fact that data supplied by survey takers will be mostly non-accurate and users will object to software analyzing their social profiles.
Before undertaking a social network analysis, Gartner recommends the company ensures it has the trust and buy-in of the people it hopes to include in the analysis in advance. Issues of privacy and confidentiality must be addressed and a determination needs to be made regarding how the information will be used and communicated. Establishing the ground rules upfront will encourage more open and honest participation and reduce the resistance to ongoing relationship monitoring,