New Opportunities for Social Networking in the Enterprise

by Jim Berkowitz on July 24, 2008

Here are several excerpts from an article by Lauren McKay, “White-Label” Social Networking to Hit the Enterprise:

According to ABI Research analyst Zippy Aima, the enterprise is a unique creature with a need for its own form of social networking, separate from the consumer sites such as Facebook and LinkedIn. Aima, the analyst behind the report “Grown Up? White Label Social Networking Targeting the Enterprise,” says that although the “white-label market” — in which vendors create unbranded applications for use by a wide range of corporate users — is in its early stages when it comes to social networking, the potential demand is high: ABI forecasts that the market will be worth nearly $1.3 billion in 2013.

Educating executives and employees about how enterprise social networking can provide value and enhance their jobs is a chore that many enterprises are beginning to face. Aima points out that white-label social networking for the enterprise not only helps enterprise employees to connect with one another, but also aids in dealings with customers, partners, and suppliers.

Aima says that the primary challenge for white-label networking vendors and for enterprises will be revving up adoption. Sure, users may be familiar with platforms such as Facebook, but applying social networking to business processes may be a new concept for some. The novelty may soon be wearing off: Many social-networking platform providers — and CRM vendors, for that matter — are beginning to embed social-networking features into business applications, continually blurring the line between personal and professional social networking.

It’s hard to say just how social networking will play out over the next couple of years, but one thing is for certain: The momentum is not slowing. Aima agrees that white-label social networking for the enterprise market is very new. However, she maintains that the demand will only increase over the next five years.

With the white-label social-networking providers popping up only within the past year or two, how should an enterprise go about choosing one provider over another? Aima recommends thinking, first and foremost, about which business solutions the social-networking features would be used for.

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