Access and Feeds

Social Media: Enterprise Software is Poised/Pushed to Adopt New Features

By Dick Weisinger

More than $650 million was spent globally on Enterprise-oriented Social Media applications in 2010 and Gartner is forecasting that continued spending in the sector in 2011 will grow 15 percent.  The enterprise social media market includes tools and features like blogs, communities, discussion forums, Twitter-like microblogging, Facebook-like social networking, content tagging and wikis.  The market also includes ECM suites like Microsoft’s SharePoint and Open-Source competitor Alfresco’s Share product.

Some of the main differences between enterprise social media Facebook-like features and similar consumer features is that the enterprise version is usually made more robust with integration into IT management and other enterprise tools, and the features also include tighter security and control functionality.

“The social software market is evolving in response to the demand for flexible environments in which participants can connect, create, share and find people and information relevant to their work.  Specific business value can be derived through customer intimacy, product/service excellence, operational effectiveness and creating innovation,” said Tom Eid, research vice president at Gartner.

Workers used to using social media in the consumer space have brought social media applications with them into the workplace.  A Cisco 2010 Midyear report found that 50 percent of workers have ignored their company policies which ban the use of social media in the workplace.  One quarter of employees have changed their computer’s security settings so as to be able to access and use all features of social media sites.  And 57 percent of workers aged 25-34 use their computers for personal tasks like checkin emails and social networks and even doing on-line shopping.

Much of the push to modernize Enterprise software is coming from SaaS vendors like Salesforce.com and NetSuites, newcomers to the enterprise space.   The acceptance that Microsoft SharePoint is seeing is contributing to the speed of the development of social features in products that are being used in the enterprise.  New versions of long-time enterprise products are also being rolled out with social features to complement and extend existing enterprise functionality with enhanced communication and collaboration.

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