As Facebook and other social networks have grown in popularity, businesses have started looking for ways to leverage them within the enterprise. The result: an influx of social software companies vying for a spot in business' technology portfolios, and IT and business executives scrambling to map out long-range plans.
According to a new report by Forrester Research, though, while this new class of technologies is gaining steam in the marketplace, the trend is still in its infancy. The keys to widespread adoption and the overall the success of these new tools, the report says, are in understanding who is using them now, how they're using them, and what policies the business needs to put into place to support them.
Here's a look at the key takeaways from Forrester's report, "The Enterprise 2.0 User Profile: 2011," along with recommendations for how your business can better leverage them.
Enterprise Social Software: Who's Using It Now and How
Of the 4,985 U.S. information workers surveyed in the report, 28 percent use social software monthly, writes report author and Forrester analyst T.J. Keitt. While this number may seem impressive on the surface, breaking it down into the types of people using social software will show that the trend hasn't yet caught on.
The three types of people currently using social software monthly include early adopters, the busiest people within a company and the younger employees. That's not surprising, Keitt says, because these are the obvious candidates for social software: Early adopters are generally open to new technologies; the busiest people at companies tend to look for ways to streamline processes; and the younger members of the workforce help introduce social tools into the enterprise.
According to the report, 39 percent of people who use social software say they use it because it's easy to use and relevant. "The top reason why information workers are using social tools is because the barriers to using them are low and they solve their business problems," Keitt writes.
The number-two reason is because "they're an efficient means for accomplishing tasks," with 38 percent of the vote.
"The fact that it's so close in importance to ease of use solidifies the fact that these busy workers, while most likely to use the newest technologies, will only do so if the tools have a perceptible, positive impact on their work," Keitt says.
And while these early adopters are likeliest to adopt social software, the report found that usage among them is still limited. More than half of those surveyed (55 percent), say they are only using one social software tool, which is interesting, Keitt says, because venders tend to offer inclusive social platforms that consist of many social apps.
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