While some companies are early adopters, most are slow on the uptake when it comes to technology (how many workers had to bring their personal computers into work before management got the message). So it follows that social networking will--finally--be crawling into businesses over the next four years.
Independent research company Gartner says 20 percent of workers will use social networks as their primary vehicle for business communications by 2014. According to Gartner, greater availability of social networking services, along with changing demographics and work styles, are responsible for the business move toward social networking services.
As more workers with social networking skills enter businesses, there will be a profound effect on the old business standby--email.
"The rigid distinction between email and social networks will erode," said Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner, "Email will take on many social attributes, such as contract brokering, while social networks will develop richer email capabilities."
Gartner predicts that social networks will begin to invade corporate email platforms. Microsoft, IBM, and others will add links to both internal and external socnets inside their email clients and on email servers. Contacts, calendars and tasks will be shared across both email and social networking platforms. Gartner predicts that by 2012 all contact lists, calendar items, and messaging clients on all smartphones will be "socially enabled applications."
Social networking is important to mobile collaboration and mobile collaboration is important to business success in the future.
"The reality is that mobile collaboration will increase for all categories of workers, and organizations can either take the lead, or be led by their users," Basso said, speaking at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010 in Cannes, France.
Anybody want to bet against users taking the lead in that scenario?