February 2, 2010 – IT and the Business have reached another crossroads as the market demands collaboration on social software platforms. Today, Gartner offered key predictions and best practices for embracing the emerging technology.

The rapid upsurge of the consumer-microblogging service Twitter is leading organizations to look for an "enterprise Twitter" that provides the same functionality with more control and security. But it’s a goal fraught with limitations, according to Jeffery Mann, research vice president for Gartner.

While more than half of enterprises will use activity streams including microblogs by 2012, microblogging when limited to a single enterprise cannot achieve the ideal scale of a service like Twitter, said Mann. Stand-alone microblogging will gain less than 5 percent penetration.

Broader social networks will gain substantial prevalence within organizations by 2014, replacing email as the primary mode of interpersonal communication for 20 percent of business users, according to Gartner analysts. As a result, organizations should develop long-term strategies for provisioning and consuming a rich set of collaboration and social software services, and develop policies for governance and use.

Gartner analysts emphasize that long-term strategies need to include input from the business community. Organizations are likely to struggle with the shift from providing a platform to delivering a social solution that targets a specific business value, resulting in over 70 percent of IT-dominated social media initiatives failing by 2012.

The pervasive expansion of social software is generating enterprise dialogue about obtaining social software platforms for the business, Mark Gilbert, research vice president at Gartner Inc. was quoted to say. But, success will be characterized by a concerted and collaborative effort between IT and the business.

Over half of business-led initiatives are expected to succeed by 2012, and those that do need to address issues of privacy and confidentiality, particularly when executing social network analysis and determining how that information will be used.

Social network analysis is likely to remain a relatively untapped resource, with only 25 percent of enterprises making use of it through 2015, according to Gartner. It’s useful for examining the interaction patterns and information flows among people and groups in an organization, as well as among business partners and customers. But, users may resent knowing that software is analyzing their behavior and resist the technology.

In an op/ed last month, Ara Trembly, founder of Ara Trembly, The Tech Consultant, asked how much more business users should be concerned about privacy, given that everyday users are already concerned. “It amazes me how much personal information subscribers are willing to share online, only to be shocked that people seem to me accessing and using that information. It’s akin to telling your deepest secrets to the biggest blabbermouth you know, who also happens to be a reporter for a national news network,” he said. “The bottom line is that if you are putting your information out there, there is always the risk that someone will see it and do something with it, whether or not they have your permission. This is a fact of Internet life for all of us. Get used to it.”

For more information on Gartner’s predictions read “Predicts 2010: Social Software Is an Enterprise Reality.”

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