Greater availability of social-networking-services, coupled with changing demographics and work styles, will lead 20 percent of employees to use social networks as their business communications’ hub by 2014, according to Gartner, Inc.
Analysts said that this is one of a wide range of capabilities that have emerged in communications, social Web and mobile, enabling richer interactions among people and expanding collaboration to a broader level.
Gartner analysts examined the business impact and opportunities of new mobile collaboration capabilities during Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010, which was held on 11 November.
“In the past, organisations supported collaboration through e-mail and highly structured applications only,” said Monica Basso, Research Vice President at Gartner. “Today, social paradigms are converging with e-mail, instant messaging (IM) and presence, creating new collaboration styles. However, a truly collaborative, effective and efficient workplace will not arise until organisations make these capabilities widely available and users become more comfortable with them. Technology is only an enabler; culture is a must for success.”
While micro-blogging is reshaping enterprise communications, business communications are evolving. Newer employees will enter the workforce with a predisposition to communicate via a social network, but they will use e-mail in parallel — optimising the business need with the communication modality.
“The rigid distinction between e-mail and social networks will erode,” Basso said. “E-mail will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer e-mail capabilities.”
Vendors such as Microsoft and IBM will add links to internal and external social networks from within e-mail clients and servers, making services such as contacts, calendars and tasks shareable across e-mail and social networks. By 2012, Gartner said contact lists, calendars and messaging clients in any smartphones will be social-enabled applications.
Collaboration is slowly moving to the cloud, and Gartner analysts expect to see steep growth rates for sales of premises- and cloud-based social networking services. Organisations will deploy hybrid models where some services live on-premises and some are in the cloud. Gartner predicts that the percentage of e-mail accounts on cloud services will grow to 10 per cent by year-end 2012, up seven per cent from 2009.
From a vendor’s perspective, the market is consolidating around Microsoft and Research In Motion (RIM), the two market leaders. Gartner forecasts that by 2012, RIM and Microsoft will own 80 per cent of the enterprise wireless e-mail software market.
Email storm ‘leads to workplace stress’
An IBM survey has found that the welter of emails arriving at workstations is a key contributor to workplace stress.
The survey of 629 managers found 45 per cent agree that having too many irrelevant emails in their inbox makes for a stressful workplace.
Seven per cent find it very stressful, whilst half of respondents agreed that unanswered emails were also contributing to workplace stress.
The stress of constantly responding to emails affects 48 per cent of workers, rising to 54 per cent in organisations with more than 500 employees.
Almost 100 per cent of respondents said email remains the most commonly used collaborative tool in the workplace but is often overwhelming or used in the wrong way, leading to avoidable workplace stress.
Predictably, the study also found that communication blunders in the office are commonplace, and another contributor to stress.
Nearly three quarters of workers admitted they have sent an email to the wrong person by mistake, and nearly half have hit Reply to All instead of Reply or the opposite at some time.
As many as 59 per cent of managers have tried to recall an email but it was too late, and 49 per cent have said something in an email which they have later come to regret.
IBM Australia spokesman James Gorry said Australian workers are looking for alternative ways to work more productively, and to find tools that can help alleviate workplace stress rather than increase it.
“It is clear that Australian organisations are missing an opportunity to encourage the adoption of enterprise grade social networking tools, alongside the old favourites including email, as these technologies can both increase employee morale as well as drive a more efficient workforce,” the Sydney Morning Herald quoted Gorry as saying.