Gartner: Five Social Collaboration Software Predictions

Gartner - Social Software 2010 Earlier this week, Gartner released a report “Predicts 2010: Social Software Is an Enterprise Reality” in which the analyst firm provides some predictions on what is in store for social collaboration software in 2010 and the years ahead.   Increasingly, businesses are finding that applications like Twitter and Facebook can provide value.  That is translating into increased adoption of social collaboration platforms by enterprises of all sizes.

Here’s my summary of 5 predictions Gartner offers in the report:

  1. Bye Bye Email?:   Gartner says social networking will prove to be a more productive tool for many types of communications.  Gartner’s prediction:  By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail as the primary vehicle for interpersonal communications for 20 percent of business users. 
  2. Internal Microblogging Efforts Fail:   The scale of Twitter is so large, enterprise users will find it more valuable than internal microblogging platforms.  Gartner’s prediction: 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. IT-Led Social Media Projects Fail:   Gartner says that IT departments just don’t have the skill set to design and deliver an social media solution.  Gartner’s prediction:  Through 2012, over 70 percent of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail, while only 50% of business-led initiatives will fail. 
  4. Mobile Apps To Influence Desktop Apps:  Gartner says that IT departments will learn new ways of developing apps for SmartPhones and be able to use that knowledge to design better apps for desktops.  Gartner’s prediction:  Within five years, 70 percent of collaboration and communications applications designed on PCs will be modeled after user experience lessons from smartphone collaboration applications.  
  5. Enterprises Slow To Adopt Social Network Analysis:  Gartner says SNA tools will remain an untapped source of insight in most organizations.  Gartner’s prediction:  Through 2015, only 25 percent of enterprises will routinely utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

Much more information can be found in the report “Predicts 2010: Social Software Is an Enterprise Reality” or, if you don’t have access, check out the summary in the press release, Gartner Reveals Five Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond

Primer on Unified Communications

What do we expect in 2009 for UC? A merged market between UC and collaboration, even more trial activity, business executives getting more involved with UC selections and deployments, IT managers continuing to demand interoperability based on standards, and UC managed service adoption. All these elements support growth to a $2.8 billion market by the end of 2009 — even amid economic uncertainty.Forrester , Jan 2009

Many organizations are starting to see the potential value of Unified Communications both to their staff and to their business processes.  Investing in UC can lead to reduced operational expenses.  I’m expecting that 2009 will bring increased focus on integrating the matrix of different communication types within an organization in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.

Enterprises will increasingly realize that they have multiple products and vendors performing the same communications functions, and that this redundancy creates additional expense (both for licenses, operations), makes it more difficult for users to learn, and increases the complexity of integration.  Vendors should realize the potential for convergence of these markets and work to accelerate the trend.

According to Gartner, during the next five years, the number of different communications vendors companies may be reduced by at least 50%.  Gartner says this change is driven by increases in the capability of application servers and the general shift of communication applications to common off-the-shelf servers and operating systems.  As this occurs, formerly distinct markets, each with distinct vendors, converge, resulting in massive consolidation in the communications industry.

Internally, most large enterprises have separate organizations managing the discrete communications tasks are generally separate today.  For example, the telephony department is separate from the storage networking team, which is separate from the data network team, which operates independently of the e-mail team, and the list goes on.  While the technologies, products and even vendors converge, users must work hard to converge their management teams and, more importantly, their business processes.

Drivers

  • Value of traditional desk phone and desktop PC is diminishing
  • Economic uncertainty as companies look to cut cost, e.g., in travel
  • Cost reductions programs
  • Integrate communication functions directly with business applications.
  • Trend towards convergence of digital content, IP as a common communication protocol, and machine-to-machine communications.

Inhibitors

  • Some technologies (e.g. presence) are not fully understood.  Products are still at an early stage and lack functionality.
  • Best practices are not well-defined: e.g., interaction with other technologies such as SaaS and cloud computing, conflicting standards.
  • Lack of coordination with legacy communication infrastructures
  • Many enterprises have struggled to internally support voice over IP (VoIP). The additional technical challenges of UC will only compound the support problem.
  • Soft ROI difficult in challenging economy

Observations:

Enterprises will look to integrate the matrix of different installed communication types in order to provide a seamless communication system across multiple networks, applications and devices.   Integrating communications and collaboration in a rich, multimedia experience — one that can include unified telephony, voice, video, instant messaging, Web conferencing, e-mail, voice mail, and business processes and applications — enables a whole new way for people, teams and communities to find experts and make faster, better decisions.

Recommendations:

  • Continue researching this important trend and understand its impact on each client’s business processes.
  • Build careful, detailed plans for when each category of communications function is replaced or converged, coupling this step with the prior completion of appropriate administration team convergence.

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