Are You Ready For The Social Tool Invasion?


One of the challenging areas of social media is understanding how “social tools” can be effectively used within the business. Today, companies such as Dell have made Twitter a core part of their toolset, not only in providing brand awareness, but also a key revenue generator for the company. However, how will social tools evolve in the future? What will these tools look like within five years? Should organisations invest time now in social media adoption, or simply ignore as it as a passing fad?

Gartner, released their social media predictions for 2010 and their insights provide an interesting vision, on how social tools may interact with the way employees choose to work in the future.

Here are Gartner’s five best practice predictions for social software:

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

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.

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

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

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

Social networking replacing email within four years sounds outrageous! But how many organisations are ready to embrace social technologies within the Enterprise? Technology is one thing, but certain members of staff will also need training to get them up to speed. “Digital natives” who enter the workforce may indeed be the ones that push companies to adopt social tools beyond the firewall.

Microblogging applications such as Twitter are being used more and by companies all over the web. However, to address privacy issues, start-ups such as Yammer have produced Twitter clones that are able to broadcast updates that can only be seen within the organisation. Gartner certainly sees this trend taking off yet further.

70% of IT-dominated social media initiatives may indeed fail. Why? Because many IT departments have traditionally failed to understand the needs of the business. Typically, they have built vast networks that are locked down. For social tool adoption to succeed, these big structures will need to be redesigned. A job easier said than done!

Smartphones are becoming more and powerful. But also the User Interface (UI) is becoming easier to use too. Widgets and small apps, now replace complex programs and connect to a variety of cloud based services. People are not only social, data is also going that way too.

Changing existing IT policies, educating the workforce and allowing the use of social tools within the Enterprise takes time. There is no silver bullet for deployment and effective use. However, early adopters are likely to see increased collaboration and agile working practices. Whereas, in some sectors such as regulatory bodies, the changes will be less profound.

But what do you think? As social tools open up and evolve, will we one day replace corporate mail with Facebook Mail?

You can read Gartner’s full press release here.

Author: Jas

Jas Dhaliwal is a highly experienced International Social Media Strategist. Currently working as AVG Technologies, Director of Communities and Online Engagement, he specialises in building and engaging with social communities across the web. Born and bred in London, he is passionate about technology and social anthropology. Prior to AVG, Jas launched the social media program for Microsoft’s MVP Award program. Jas holds a BSc (Hons) in Information Systems and has an MBA from Brunel University in London, England. You can follow Jas as @Jas on Twitter or on Google+

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