Social Platform Subscribers To Double, Microsoft, IBM Positioned To Cash In On Growth

The total number of full-suite enterprise social-platform subscribers is expected to more than double from 208 million in 2013 to 535 million in 2018.
That’s the latest forecast from research firm Frost & Sullivan, which estimates that there are presently about 2 billion workers worldwide who could benefit from enterprise social technologies.
The providers that are best positioned to benefit from such growth are those with a complete set of enterprise offerings, and existing IT bases -- like Microsoft, IBM, and Tibco -- according to Robert Arnold, program manager and industry principal at Frost & Sullivan.
Service providers with the potential to tap this market as they expand their offerings include, SAP and Cisco, among others, Arnold said. “Most of the large business and IT infrastructure companies are in play here.”
On the adoption side, however, benefiting from investments in enterprise social-networking technology can be a challenge. According to Arnold, it requires a fundamental shift in employee behavior and company culture in order to cultivate the engagement needed to make the effort worthwhile.
There are plenty of examples of companies benefiting from social collaboration.
Arnold points to Lowes, which had trouble selling a particular paint tin in some stores, but couldn’t stock the product fast enough in other locations. By sharing a few video tutorials internally, store managers were able to significantly increase sales of the paint tin, he said.

Among other industries, the financial services sector currently stands out as a leading adopter of social solutions, which Arnold attributes to better education, planning and well-defined implementation and usage strategies.
Going forward, governance, risk, compliance and security concerns -- especially in regulated industries -- are expected to remain key challenges until enterprise social networking solutions mature further.

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