2009 saw a tremendous increase in usage of Social Media sites like Twitter and Facebook, and could easily be termed as the Year of Social Media. This growth in the usage of social and collaboration platforms has led the enterprises to seriously consider using social platforms for business collaborations, according to Mark R. Gilbert, research vice president at Gartner Research.
Due to this increased use of social tools both inside and outside corporate firewalls, and the changing demographics (i.e. within a few years majority of users entering the workforce would belong to the Facebook age and would continue to communicate with colleagues via Facebook and Twitter), Gartner predicts that by 2014 20% of business users will be using social networking services for communication instead of emails.
Gartner claims that Social networking will prove to be more effective than emails in real time communications, such as informing colleagues about status updates, or expertise localization within a business. This is an area which is already well covered by services like Twitter and Facebook. However, users currently use the status updates to inform others about personal activities. This would change over time, and users would be using updates for business communications as well. This new usage pattern would make companies build internal social networks and/or allow business oriented use of personal social accounts.
“The rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode. E-mail will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering while social networks will develop richer email capabilities,” said Matt Cain, research vice president at Gartner. “While email is already almost fully penetrated in the corporate space, we expect to see steep growth rates for sales of premises- and cloud-based social networking services.”
Another important prediction by Gartner states that “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.” This would certainly be well received by enterprise-level social networking software providers such as IBM, Microsoft, Cisco, Jive Software, Mindtouch and Socialtext – and microblogging services like Socialcast and Yammer.