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Enterprise Social Network Application Growth

Enterprise social networking grew much faster than expected, as leading adopters started to reveal their early successes and a number of robust solutions emerged, according to a new IDC market study.

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.

"Enterprise social networking applications established a strong foothold in 2007, emerging as a more comprehensive solution than single utility applications like blogs and Wikis," stated Rachel Happe, research manager, Digital Business Economy.

"A number of important societal, digital marketplace-specific, and enterprise trends are driving aggressive growth in this market. They include social filtering of content, media channel fragmentation, adoption of consumer social networking services, and the perception in mature markets like enterprise software that communities are a way to increase differentiation and retain customers."

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 open-culture 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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