The global market for enterprise social software will grow by 15.7% next year to hit $769.2 million, with a key driver being the adoption of Cloud and software-as-a-service offerings, Gartner predicts.
According to a report entitled ‘Market Trends: Convergence Restructuring the Enterprise Social Software Market, Worldwide, 2010’, the sector is also expected to grow by 14.9% this year, valuing it at $66.4 million for 2010.
Tom Eid, a research director at Gartner, said: "The social software market is evolving in response to the demand for flexible environments in which participants can connect, create, share and find people and information relevant to their work."
The technology helped to improve networking, collaboration and the capturing of informal knowledge, enabling workers to interact informally, brainstorm, explore ideas and encourage or challenge peers, he added.
But "specific business value" could also be derived by using it to boost customer intimacy, improve products and services, enhance operational efficiency effectiveness and promote innovation. This was because such software could generate change in personal interactions, which could, in turn, help to raise organisational performance.
Cloud and software-as-a-service continued to be particularly popular, especially among marketing, HR and R&D executives, with more than 50 of the 80 enterprise social software vendors operating in this space, Eid said.
Tools such as blogs, discussion forums and rating engines were also increasingly being integrated with applications aimed at generating specific business outcomes, including product reviews and testing, brand marketing and community development.
"Success is to be found in managing the information and relationships in support of business initiatives and not the simple deployment of technology. One of the major goals is to capitalise on community involvement to drive higher leverage and productivity," Eid said.