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January 29, 2013

50% of large organisations will have Facebook-like internal networks by 2016: report

A study says that 30% of internal social networks will be viewed as essential as email and telephones are today.

By Tineka Smith

Gartner research suggests that enterprise social networking software has several advantages over traditional collaboration when it comes to group organisation and social filtering.

Organisations which have an internal social networking environment are able to retrieve needed information from a general-purpose communication platform. Events, emails, office and business applications can be easily entered into conversations.

"The popularity and effectiveness of social networking sites as a group communication tool among consumers is prompting organizations as well as individual employees to ask whether similar technologies can be deployed privately," said Nikos Drakos, research director at Gartner. "There is increasing interest for using social technologies within organizations to connect people more effectively, to capture and reuse valuable informal knowledge, and to deliver relevant information more intelligently where it is needed through social filtering."

Gartner says as the understanding of key influencers in the social network increase, communication channels and platforms will become increasingly effective.

However, Gartner says that even though enterprise social networks will continue to grow among organisations, 80% of social business efforts will not be achieved.

The study suggests this will be due to poor leadership and an overemphasis on technology.

Social enterprise initiatives heavily depend on engaging workers and the number of workers that actually choose to use the platform.

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Managers need to focus on the social needs of the employees ahead of a particular technology.

"Businesses need to realize that social initiatives are different from previous technology deployments," said Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

"Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP or CRM, follow a "push" paradigm.

Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a "pull" approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can’t be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in."

Gartner says that companies must shift their focus from deciding which technology to implement and emphasise on which social initiatives will improve work for individuals and managers.

"There is too much focus on content and technology, and not enough focus on leadership and relationships," said Rozwell. "Leaders need to develop a social business strategy that makes sense for the organization and tackle the tough organizational change work head on and early on. Successful social business initiatives require leadership and behavioural changes. Just sponsoring a social project is not enough — managers need to demonstrate their commitment to a more open, transparent work style by their actions."

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