Best-practice predictions for social software

One of the challenging aspects of understanding the role of social media in the communication mix is how it may develop in future in organizational use.

How will a tool like Twitter evolve, for instance? What will Facebook,LinkedIn, Xing and other online social networking services look like in five years time? And what about lifestreaming and social graphs – where will these informal concepts sit within the organization?

Among the many social media predictions for 2010 and further out, a few stand out and give you pause for thought and consideration.

I discovered another one, announced yesterday by IT industry analysts Gartner Group, that present further scope to the forward-looking social media landscape and opportunities.

Gartner’s views are an opportunity to consider how the social software and employee collaboration landscape might develop from a best practice viewpoint  during the next five years.

And here are the headlines according to Gartner: 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 utilize social network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

Detailed opinion from Gartner to each headline point is in their press release.

The first prediction, about email being replaced by social networking services as a primary means of interpersonal communication, might raise some eyebrows. Yet is it far fetched? The ways communication technologies are developing so rapidly, and how behaviours in society generally and in the workplace in particular are changing with equal speed, we might be surprised.

‘Microblogging’ typically means Twitter (or equivalents behind the corporate firewall like Yammer). I’d agree with Gartner’s second headline: activity streams rather than stand-alone tweeting look far more likely to capture corporate imaginations.

How do the next five years look to you?

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(Cross-posted from the WCG Blog)

Neville Hobson

Social Strategist, Communicator, Writer, and Podcaster with a curiosity for tech and how people use it. Believer in an Internet for everyone. Early adopter (and leaver) and experimenter with social media. Occasional test pilot of shiny new objects. Avid tea drinker.

  1. Steve "@PodcastSteve" Lubetkin

    I was very fascinated by finding #3, “Through 2012, over 70 percent of IT-dominated social media initiatives will fail.” This goes to the heart of a long-standing frustration among all the communications and PR professionals I know. I wish I had a nickel for every time a PR manager said to me, “we really want to do X, but IT says our network can’t handle it.” What is really being said is that IT can’t handle it. Budget restraints mean that IT departments get whacked for cost reductions that leave them with little ability to invest in new communications tools, and barely able to manage Patch Tuesday issues from Microsoft.

    Any company that relies on IT alone to implement technological communications changes — but doesn’t invest in making its IT people leaders in R&D for these tools — is going to be doomed to failure.

  2. Paul Armstrong

    Agree with you regarding email – although everything is too rooted in it right now to cut the cord within at least 5 years. That said the potential is clear… as are the privacy concerns. With a flick of the switch and some promo there could be serious contenders. The rest are pretty safe bets no?

    I think three themes/needs are clear:
    1) streams of information with filtering tech/methods
    2) brand/personal rep management explosion (one bitten twice shy still holds true)
    3) mass information visualisation and display mechanics (dashboards, 3D spatial interfaces etc) will become commonplace.

    Once the iPad gets its act together – all bets are off. Anyone else think it should be renamed sofasurfer?

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