According to research firm IDC, enterprise social networking had a break-out year in 2007 with much faster than expected growth as leading adopters started to reveal their early successes and a number of robust enterprise solutions emerged. While the market is still serviced by a wide variety of small players there was significant consolidation through mergers, acquisitions, and new products from existing players.
Additional observations of the social networking applications market include:
--The surfacing of new competitors in the form of established information access and content management vendors that build social features into their solutions.
--As an emergent market, the growth rate is high and spread unevenly between a variety of small vendors and a few larger vendors who represent a relatively large percentage of the market today. While 2007 saw some consolidation, IDC expects that 2008 will see even more.
--There is considerable functional adoption as companies deployed social networking solutions to address a wide variety of specific business challenges spanning HR, marketing/sales, engineering, channel management, and customer service functions.
--The emergence of social intelligence solutions that combine elements of web analytics, brand monitoring, and information access in order to provide management dashboards of social networks both internal and external to corporate firewalls.
--Social networking market growth will be moderated by cultural and resource limitations. Many companies will deploy social networking applications and see few benefits because of the lack of understanding or comfort with the openness required for social networking to be successful.
The higher than expected market adoption in 2007 has pushed long-term projections higher as well. While this forecast projects both slow and aggressive growth scenarios, the projected size of the market in 2012 is expected to be $1.3 billion.
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