Access and Feeds

Social Media: Forrester Predicts Explosive Growth for Enterprise Social Software

By Dick Weisinger

Enterprise Social Software (ESS) is collaboration software that incorporates the kind of social-media capabilities typically found in consumer web apps like Facebook and Twitter.  ESS tools are increasingly being deployed in organizations with a current market size of about $600 million in annual sales, but Forrester Research predicts that this is just the beginning of a much bigger trend.  Forrester expects that ESS products will grow at an annual compound rate of 61 percent over the next five years, with the market exceeding $6.4 billion by 2016.

In August 2011, Forrester reported that top vendors in the ESS market were IBM, Jive, Telligent and Newsgator, but the market is moving very quickly and many new vendors are entering this space.

Henry Dewing, Forrester analyst and author of the report on ESS,  said that  “Forrester believes that a new generation of social enterprise apps will finally deliver the productivity businesses desire by systematically grouping and rating people, information, and processes required to answer business needs.”

ESS differs from the types of collaboration software that have been prevalent in the previous decade.  Dewing tried to draw a distinction between ESS and the previous generation of collaboration apps called unified communications and collaboration (UC&C) by saying that the creation of “a social layer between information workers and the applications and communications infrastructure, social enterprise apps will overcome the adoption malaise that has affected UC&C.”  Prior to ESS, many organization have made sizable investments in UC&C products like email, IM, VoIP, and videoconferencing, but often the ROI was disappointing.  But Forrester thinks that ESS products will be different.

Who is the typically user of social media apps in the enterprise now?  In another Forrester report made available in November, TJ Keitt created a profile of the typical ESS user.  He found that ESS users shared the following characteristics:

  • Early adopters with a positive attitude towards technology
  • Highly paid / Highly educated
  • Works 2.4 hours longer per week than other workers
  • 26 percent of those in their twenties and 35 percent of those in their 30-40’s.
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