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Embracing enterprise social software and social network analysis – Gartner’s near term predictions on Enterprise 2.0

Posted by John Horniblow on Feb 10, 2010 in General, Social Media Marketing, User experience |

Last week Gartner released five predictions for social software for 2010 and beyond. What is interesting for me is that the fast moving, consumer driven, internet always finds itself leading the technology shifts that are ultimately or stubbornly embraced by IT departments for the remodeling of enterprise communications, information exchange, information publishing and distribution. Enterprise 2.0 while in its nascent days has had a steady stream of adoption inside a large number of companies. They have adopted certain collaborative and social technologies into or in addition to their existing intranets, team rooms etc. The emulation of the consumer web inside companies allows the speed and ease of information distribution and social communication and work collaboration inside enterprises to increase significantly . These can be enterprise to employee or employee to employee communications or working groups spread across many locations.

Gartner predicts that :

1. By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users.

“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.”

As in the social network space direct emailing between people has dropped as people prefer to message each other as static email type messages or as IM working directly within the social network interface. The broadcast of messages appears as news feeds either to all persons in a network or as news specifically based upon an individuals interests, affinitities, or information needs has eaten into email’s dominance of electronic messaging and communication in the consumer world and will continue to do so. Interestingly, one enterprise social networking system we recommend from Telligent has a email client bridge at the moment that allows a “cross function” between an email client and the an enterprise community/or social platform. It integrates to the MS exchange email client allowing it to act as social publishing interface when the enterprise user prefers not to enter the social network but still have its postings and interactions visible.

“Gartner recommends that organizations 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.”

2. By 2012, over 50 percent of enterprises will use activity streams that include microblogging, but stand-alone enterprise microblogging will have less than 5 percent penetration.

The huge popularity of the consumer-microblogging service Twitter, has led many organizations 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.

One such enterprise Twitter like microblogging stream is Yammer, which at LABEL, we use as insight, research, and broadcast channel that doesn’t spam through our email system and allows for quick response and interaction between interested parties.

“However, it will be very difficult for microblogging as a stand-alone function to achieve widespread adoption within the enterprise. Twitter’s scale is one of the reasons 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.”

We do differ to Gartner in our thinking. Where we see their use is in smaller defined interest groups inside of large enterprises. The enterprise microblogging services will be picked up as quick information exchange platforms between collaborating and social groups within an enterprise. This is clearly illustrated by the growth of groups within communities and networks as centres of specific interests or needs.

3. Through 2012, over 70 percent of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail.

I think this supports the adage we often adopt in recommending social media activities with clients be they consumer facing or in the enterprise. It not about the technology , but about how people use the technology. Start with the people equation first, not the technology equation and the adoption of these tools will ultimately succeed. We advise our clients to stop, listen and learn, create an engagement strategy that supports the business and communication objectives of before concentrating on the what and how of the technology. The answer is clearly underscored by the observation we have of IT companies making consumer facing websites or working out consumer engagement strategies in terms of digital marketing they just don’t do it very well, they deliver a platform not a communications solution and a strategy.

“When it comes to collaboration, IT organizations 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 organizations 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. Until this happens, failure rates will remain high. 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.”

4. Within five years, 70 percent of collaboration and communications applications designed on PCs will be modeled after user experience lessons from smartphone collaboration applications.

” As we move toward three billion phones in the world serving the main purpose of providing communications and collaboration anytime anywhere, Gartner expects more end users to spend significant time experiencing the collaborative tools on these devices. For some of the world, these will be the first or the only applications they use. 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.”

5. Through 2015, only 25 percent of enterprises will routinely utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

The practices of Social Media analysis and the growing number of tools that are examining dialogue, sentiment, and the semantics surrounding consumer expression in participatory media can be applied as useful methodology for examining the interaction patterns and information flows that occur among the people and groups in an organisation or company. Gartner says “However, when surveys are used for data collection, users may be reluctant to provide accurate responses. When automated tools perform the analysis, users may resent knowing that software is analyzing their behavior. For these reasons, social network analysis will remain an untapped source of insight in most organizations.”

“Before undertaking a social network analysis, Gartner recommends that the organization ensure that 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.”

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Avery Otto
Feb 24, 2010 at 3:43 pm

These predictions coincide with our daily findings based on two collaboration tools we provide. Mainly the importance of the role of Community Builder, who interfaces with the folks actually collaborating and using the communication tools to do just that- communicate. People are still reticent to let go of email. We have learned a lot of lessons over the past couple of years. Please read on: http://www.dynamicalsoftware.com/news/?p=85

Feb 25, 2010 at 6:03 am

Hi Avery, many thanks for this . I like the points you bring up in your article as well . The importance of the community builder should never be underestimated..



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