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70 Percent of Social Media Initiatives by Information Technology Departments Are Doomed
A recent Gartner report takes a dim view of social media projects led by corporate-technology personnel.
Posted Feb 24, 2010
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Over the next two years, 70 percent of social media initiatives coordinated by corporate technology departments will fail, according to a recent report by Gartner Research. 

The report, “Gartner Reveals Five Social Software Predictions for 2010 and Beyond,” predicts that technology personnel will fail to develop adequate social media initiatives due to an inability to shift from “providing a platform to delivering a solution.” 

“User organizations like to offer a platform based on a specific technology,” says Mark Gilbert, a research vice president at Gartner. “They have to get staffed up for a variety of skill sets. They have to have developer skills all over the board. They need database administrators that are capable of understanding a range of products. And given the cost challenges [organizations] are facing right now, they’re trying to look for quick ways to show efficiency without unnecessarily hiring new people.”

The report’s authors don’t make technology professionals out to be villains; in fact, the report emphasizes the finding that they excel at supplying collaboration platforms such as email, instant messaging, and Web conferencing. Unfortunately, however, the report suggests these staffers are less comfortable delivering social solutions that target specific business value, the kind of streamlined approach that Gilbert describes as “a core platform upon which organizations can build content applications, collaboration applications, wikis, or blogs.” 

Even among the leading platform options, though, Gilbert admits that not all offerings are equal when it comes to managing wikis and blogs. “Once [organizations] have this platform in place they can get more people to buy into it,” he says. “Then the cost of each app they build upon it is lower because they’re leveraging one software license and one skill set to go forward.”

One current obstacle, according to the report, is an industrywide assumption that social media is “prone to high failure rates,” The authors suggest, however, that in the coming years this belief will be debunked as enterprises realize that “a calculated approach to social-media solution delivery” will spell the difference between the 80 percent of organizations that fail and the 20 percent that succeed.

The report presents several additional predictions: 

  • By 2012, more than 50 percent of enterprises will use activity streams that include enterprise microblogging, but less than 5 percent will utilize standalone microblogging itself;
  • by 2014, 20 percent of business users will opt for social networking services instead of email as their primary vehicle for interpersonal communications;
  • by 2015, 70 percent of applications designed for collaboration and communication on desktop computers will be modeled after user-experience lessons gleaned from smartphone applications; and
  • through 2015, only 25 percent of enterprises will routinely utilize social-network analysis to improve performance and productivity.

The findings of the report are due to be further explored during the upcoming 2010 Gartner Portals, Content, and Collaboration Summit. During the summit, convening March 9 in Baltimore, analysts are expected to unveil additional forecasts detailing future utilization of social media and Web 2.0 workplace technologies such as social networking, mashups, online communication, e-discovery, and search, according to the report. 

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