More than 70% of all IT-led social media initiatives will fail over the next two years compared with about half of business-led ones, according to researchers Gartner.
This high failure rate is because organisations do not currently have the right skill sets in place to design and deliver such offerings, while the situation is also not helped by a dearth of suitable methodologies, technologies and tools to help them.
Therefore, said Mark Gilbert, a research vice president at the firm, it was crucial for both IT departments and business colleagues to work together in a "concerted and collaborative" fashion if they wanted to deliver successful projects.
The situation was likely to improve after 2012, however, leading to an increase in the overall impact of social media on both business and society and to growth in the social software market.
But the resultant higher availability of social networking services both inside and outside the company firewall, coupled with changing demographics and work styles, will have implications.
For example, by 2014, about a fifth of business users are predicted to use social networking services rather than email as their primary vehicle for interpersonal communications, particularly for activities such as status updates and locating experts.
Steep growth rates
Matt Cain, another research vice president, said: "The rigid distinction between email and social networks will erode. Email will take on many social attributes such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer email capabilities."
This scenario was likely to lead to "steep growth rates" in the procurement of both on-premise and cloud-based social networking services as most companies attempted to either create their own internal social networks or allow staff to use personal social network accounts.
As a result, Cain recommended that organisations develop a long-term strategy for providing collaboration and social software-based services and create policies for governing the use of consumer offerings by in-house staff.
He does not expect to see the widespread adoption of social network analysis tools that enable organisations to analyse the online behaviour of staff, business partners and customers, however.
Only 25% of enterprises are likely to routinely use such tools to try and improve performance and productivity by 2015 due to staff reluctance to respond accurately to surveys and resentment at being spied on by software.
If organisations do wish to go down this route, however, Gartner advises them to ensure they gain staff trust and buy-in in advance. They must also address privacy and confidentiality issues and clarify how any information would be used and communicated.
About Neil Davey
Neil Davey is the managing editor of MyCustomer. An experienced business journalist and editor, Neil has worked on a variety of newspapers, magazines and websites over the past 15 years, including Internet Works, CXO magazine and Business Management. He joined Sift Media in 2007.