Businesses need to understand social software says Gartner

Gartner says development of social software is becoming crucial for improving business collaboration

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By  Quintin Smith Published  March 3, 2008

A new study from Gartner has identified five major challenges faced by organisations that want to deploy social software, such as collaboration and knowledge sharing applications. The analyst company believes that social software is becoming increasingly important in modern workplaces, although organizations don’t always understand how to benefit from it.

Gartner warned against dismissing social software as either a fad or a threat to productivity.

Anthony Bradley, research director at Gartner said: “Some enterprises have achieved substantial results with social software, and many enterprises are now experimenting with the technology. The demand from workers is escalating and they can and are turning to the consumer Internet if their corporate technology provider isn’t offering a solution.

“Organizations need to exploit this growing consumer literacy for business purposes and prepare a social software strategy with a realistic understanding of the associated challenges, risks and benefits,” he added.

The five challenges Gartner has identified based on experiences and discussions with clients are:

Delivering business value- making sure your enterprise is constantly investigating the potential of current social software, as opposed to ignoring it and waiting for it to pass.

Overcoming cultural barriers- investing the time and resources so that internal user groups understand and use social software, instead of just installing it and expecting the community to appear.

Ensuring privacy- businesses should be aware that while popular social Web sites such as MySpace, YouTube and FaceBook have occasional breaches of privacy, the enterprise applications of social software have much more secure, privacy measures that should be used.

Governing participant behaviors- anticipating and addressing any bad behavior within the social structure, and implementing good policies enforced by all participants.

Managing personal and professional time- appreciating that a virtual workplace is a more loosely structured environment, and changing the way you evaluate employee productivity.

“The severity of these five challenges will vary significantly from one organization to the next, as does their impact on decisions concerning whether, when and how to proceed with social software,” Bradley said.

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