Gartner: “By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail”

Interesting statements from Gartner (and yes, I was being selective when I grabbed that quote):

Gartner Reveals Five Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond

Analysts Share Best Practices for Embracing Social Networking at Gartner Portals, Content and Collaboration Summit 2010, 9-11 March in Baltimore and 15-16 September in London

STAMFORD, Conn., February 2, 2010 — “A lot has happened in a year within the social software and collaboration space. The growing use of platforms such as Twitter and Facebook by business users has resulted in serious enterprise dialogue about procuring social software platforms for the business,” said Mark R. Gilbert, research vice president at Gartner and co-chair of the Portals, Content and Collaboration (PCC) Summit. “Success in social software and collaboration will be characterized by a concerted and collaborative effort between IT and the business.”

Gartner offers five key predictions for social software:
1.        By 2014, social networking services will replace e-mail 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 modeled 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.

For more information on each of these predictions, check out Gartner’s site.

What do I think?

I would say that numbers 1 and 2 are right on the money.  Micro-blogging is being adopted at an incredible rate, and is one of the reasons why the latest Social Collaboration platforms such as Lotus Connections 2.5 and SocialText Signals are taking such a hold in the marketplace.  Both predictions also validate IBM’s vision in Project Vulcan, bringing the traditional means of collaboration and communication (email and IM for example) into a Social interface.

I’m not so sure about prediction 3.  I struggle with the idea of Social Media Initiatives – to be it sounds like the kind of terminology used by organisations and marketing agencies that actually don’t understand social computing.  Social Media is becoming ubiquitous and has a part to play in every marketing or sales initiative. Having a Social Media Initiative is missing the fact that this should be completely integrated with every other aspect of an organisation’s sales and marketing efforts.

Prediction 4 is interesting, particularly given the iPad announcement last week.  Users of Smart Phones and iPad-style devices will become ever more dependent on features like predictive text, gestures, built-in GPS and 3G and so on, and so the old model of desktop of laptop devices chained to a network has to change. 70% is ambitious though…

Number 5 seems very conservative to me – already plenty of forward-looking organisations are using social network analysis to help with performance reviews and organisational improvements. This will only expand over time.

Do you agree?

Stuart McIntyre is a Senior Strategist at Fostering Community Limited. He curates a number of product-focused news sites, is a lapsed podcaster, founded the Social Connections user group and regularly speaks at conferences and events. This blog represents his own slightly-eccentric and usually-controversial opinions!