Adoption rises for Enterprise Social Networks

There are now so many different solutions being offered for building your own social network, either in a “cloud” online or “behind the firewall” as a business tool, that the list is becoming overwhelming for some companies wanting to deploy one in their business. Many of the more established business cloud services (Oracle, Salesforce.com, Microsoft) are including more and more options for integrating Enterprise Social Software (ESS) into their own business hybrid or cloud solution.

Currently, the global Enterprise Social Software (ESS) market is estimated to grow from $721.3 million in 2012 to $6.18 billion in 2018. This represents a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 44.9% from 2013 to 2018. In the current scenario, High Tech & Telecommunication verticals continue to be the big adopters and North America is expected to be the biggest market in terms of revenue.

Business itself has always had a “social element” to it, so much so that many in the past have complained that too much decision making is made around the water cooler or in a hallway conversation that they often are not communicated well or built with enough input from others.

Many businesses have difficulty getting folks even within a single building to communicate well with each other. Yet the advent of social networking in the form of sites like Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter etc. have laid the groundwork for easy adoption of social-like tools within a business environment.

There is a fine line these days between what are commonly considered collaboration tools, Sharepoint is both an example and a leader in this industry, and those that have more of a social feel to them. Yet even Sharepoint is often used in conjunction with Yammer in order to provide an experience closer to that of Facebook, which continues to be the model most social software follows.

The real trend though is in the area of integration. Gartner’s Magic Quadrant report on the subject of enterprise social software indicated that companies are moving away from focusing on differentiating features, to integrating it into their larger set of enterprise software.

“Differentiation is getting harder to do and many vendors are starting to have the same elements,” according to Mike Gotta, Gartner’s research vice president for collaboration and social software. “The destination sites are trying to become more purposeful and more contextual around getting work done, as well as more integrated with other vendor offerings. At the same time, social elements are also being added into existing project management and CRM tools.”

He also points out that it is important not to just cram social elements into existing business applications without first understanding if social will enhance productivity when users take advantage of the tools. In fact, he is not alone in recommending that you start small and take advantage of existing expertise in the integration of tools, like social into business and collaboration applications.

The burden for integrating all of this is often on the backs of already strained IT departments. Often they do not have the bandwidth to do more than just slap applications together as best they can, often far slower than many enterprises need to keep up with their competition. The extra personnel requirements and level of expertise can be expensive as well.

Reaching out to an offshore development team, particularly those that are expert in the area of application and system integration can both aid in temporarily beefing up your staff, and keep the cost down as a result of the lower cost of development offshore. The teams often have well structure methodologies for evaluating your business needs, existing applications or systems, and then formulating the most cost effective way to integrate social into your business.

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