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Business social networking to become £4 billion market

Business social networking to become £4 billion market

Forrester analysts predict huge boost for collaboration technology

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Enterprise social collaboration software, which offer Facebook and Twitter-like capabilities adapted for workplaces, will grow strongly in the coming years, eclipsing demand for more traditional communications and collaboration products, according to a new study from Forrester Research.

Organisations will increase their spending on enterprise social collaboration software at a compound annual growth rate of 61 percent through 2016, a year in which the market for these products will reach $6.4 billion (£4 billion), compared with $600 million last year.

Simultaneously, demand for unified communications and collaboration products that offer IM, audio calls, online meetings and video conferencing, will start to drop overall in 2014 because, unlike enterprise social software, they don't help employees discover peers outside of their work groups with expertise they need to tap, according to Forrester's report "Social Enterprise Apps Redefine Collaboration," published this week.

"By creating 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," wrote Forrester analyst Henry Dewing.

Over the years, companies have invested in a variety of tools for increasing employee productivity, like email, IM, VoIP, UC&C, videoconferencing and collaboration software platforms but these tools have not meet those expectations, according to the report.

"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," Dewing wrote.

Currently, there are vendors that focus solely on providing enterprise social software, like Jive Software, NewsGator, SocialText, Yammer and Telligent, while others are adding these capabilities to broader stacks, as Microsoft and IBM are doing in their collaboration platforms, and SAP and Salesforce.com in their enterprise business applications, and Cisco in its communications products, according to Forrester.

Although enterprise social collaboration products have been around for about five years, only 12 percent of information workers have access to enterprise social collaboration software, and only 8 percent of them use it at least once a week, according to the report.

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