Technology | Media | Telecommunications

Saturday, July 19, 2008

Human Network Effect Reaches Enterprise


The Human Network Effect of engaging online communities in the consumer world has become a huge success, and now a growing number of enterprises are seeing internal demand, according to the latest market study by ABI Research.

To enable such communication in a business environment, white label social networking vendors provide platforms that can be re-branded to meet the requirements of enterprises. ABI forecasts indicate that this market will be worth nearly $1.3 billion in 2013.

Potentially linking employees, customers, and other stakeholders, enterprise social networking is most commonly seen as an aid to marketing, CRM, and general information distribution.

"Social networking within and around the enterprise can deliver a number of benefits to a company, though some may be difficult to quantify," says industry analyst Zippy Aima.

"For example, many networks can be searched by keyword, offering fast and easy access to company-wide pools of expertise. One vendor of these solutions targets only trade show and conference organizers. Their networks allow people attending the event to save time by learning who else is going, and setting up meetings in advance."

Setting up and running a social network is a specialized task, however, and can be costly. So most white label social networking vendors offer the technology through an SaaS (Software as a Service) model, based on a subscription fee, which can be economical for the customer. Client companies can add their own branding, look and feel, but have few other burdens.

"White label enterprise social networking is a very young market, but a busy one," notes Aima.

"It is flooded with vendors, but most of them are only a few years old and still see annual revenues below $5 million. Despite this market's promise, they must overcome several challenges, including lack of customer education, competition from open standards, budget constraints, and the need for feature-rich applications."

That said, I believe that this emerging trend is a result of the Groundswell that Forrester's analysts continue to refer to as a phenomenon that will transform many aspects of online communication and collaboration.