The Difference and Deficit with Enterprise Social Networks

February 1, 2013 – In terms of true adoption and returns, enterprise social networking seems well behind its counterpart trends of mobile BI, cloud and advanced analytics. According to a new Gartner Research market assessment, only 20 percent of social business efforts will bring about their intended benefits over the next three years.

This comes at a time when enterprise social networks and collaboration tools will become vital to business communication, as strategic plans for adoption of social capabilities some to light, the research firm stated. The prime culprits of this deficit in success are leadership inexperience with enterprise social and intentions of rolling out internal social and collaboration efforts like any other tech deployment, said Carol Rozwell, VP and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

"Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, followed a ‘push’ paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it,” said Rozwell, in a release on the recent market results. “In contrast, social initiatives require a ‘pull’ approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can't be forced to use social apps, they must opt in."

Rozwell stated that social business plans should focus on “identifying how [they] will improve work practices for both individual contributors and managers.” To start on this path, project leaders need an outline of how people presently work in terms of software, internal and external tools, as well as which other departments and employees. In terms of preparing leaders, social project managers “need to demonstrate their commitment to a more open, transparent work style,” Rozwell said, which is something that collaboration suites may force but could also cause some rifts in the business process or culture.

In a deeper look at enterprise social and collaboration, Gartner anticipates that half of large organizations will have “internal, Facebook-like social networks” by 2016, with 30 percent of those efforts put into regular use like today’s email systems and telephones. Further down the road, a majority of enterprise user-oriented applications will present some facet of social, mobile and gamification by 2017. Gartner Fellow and VP Tom Austin stated that this trio of additional applications are part of a push toward “attractiveness, usability and effectiveness” for a new wave of business applications.

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