There has been an acquisition frenzy in the enterprise social and collaboration space over the last year. And the increasing millions that enterprises are pouring into new solutions seem to validate at least some of the vendor-side spending spree. A recent IDC report on the enterprise social and collaboration marketplace named Socialcast and Yammer as leaders in the space, with plenty of major players on their heels. With “sweeping changes in use cases, adoption, technology and attitudes” from the business side of the house, IDC report author and analyst Vanessa Thompson wrote that it won’t be long before social/collaboration will cease to be its own separate software market and will instead be embedded across the application portfolio. Thompson gave a status update on enterprise interest and adoption in collaboration. What’s the biggest obstacle for enterprises adopting collaboration and social suites?
Vanessa Thompson: One of the biggest hurdles to adoption is changing the culture of communication from a more formal and bureaucratic email based communication, to a more informal and collaborative form of communication. This informal communication is underpinned by activity streams, which we now deem as assumed functionality in an enterprise social software solution.
When do you think we’ll see these social capabilities embedded  within application portfolios?
We are seeing early progress today as open API cloud ecosystems emerge to support customers and partners who may now look to platforms to innovate on.  Instead of buying a new application because when new functionality is needed, they simply use the API and build new UI components, integrations, connectors, providing new functionality. In terms of timing, a number of factors contribute to social business maturity, which is the consolidation of complementary social applications, like digital commerce, customer experience, social talent management as well as enterprise social networks in a broader business application portfolio. Existing application architectures, the nature of a business and how it is organized, culture of change and innovation will all have an effect on how quickly companies will incorporate social capabilities. In some industries/businesses this will take many, many years, in others there is progress today.

Many enterprises are contemplating added social and collaborative capabilities. Is that translating into revenue for the vendors?
Currently revenue is going to vendors who can deliver a user experience beyond the activity stream that incorporates analytics, streamlined participation for external groups and mobile extensibility. Today these base solutions aid a customer’s immediate need to connect with customers’ partners and suppliers, inside and outside the firewall.

Hou do you expect the market to grow going forward?
Going forward, customers face the challenge of integrating a number of social software solutions that have different user communities and underlying solutions. This creates broader avenues in revenue generation for over-the-top solutions, partners who can innovate and add value to an existing app or business process and application focused providers that bring richer social capabilities into enterprise application workflow.

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