Social technologies at work? What social technologies?

popularity of social for enterprise

As my colleague Kevin C. Tofel has pointed out, new research from Forrester reveals that consumer phones are invading the enterprise, but that’s not the only area of collaboration the study probes. Like the phone findings, some takeaways confirm realities we already see under way at offices every day, but others undercut so-called trends often mentioned by media cheerleaders (including GigaOM).

So what other collaboration trends does the study confirm? Remote work, it turns out, is largely a privilege of those higher up in the office food chain. Previous demographic studies on telecommuters and remote workers have revealed that they’re a highly educated, highly paid lot, who are generally higher up in their organizations. Forrester concurs, saying:

The report also reveals that workers are untethered from the office as they rise in rank. 53 percent of individual workers are office-bound, but that number drops to 35 percent among managers and supervisors, and plummets to just 10 percent among directors and executives.

No surprises there, then, but another finding is eye-opening. Here at WebWorkerDaily, social technology at work is a big topic, and we cover a variety of social tools for enterprise, from Jive and Chatter to Yammer. But despite its being a fast-growing market segment with huge media buzz, Forrester reveals exactly how far these technologies are from going mainstream. The research concludes (italics are mine):

Adoption of enterprise 2.0 technologies is still nascent. Only one in six Gen Y professionals uses social tools. Despite significant and ongoing investment in enterprise social technologies, their roughly seven-year lifespan within enterprises has yielded a maximum of 12 percent adoption within the overall workforce. This market has failed to displace traditional collaboration technologies like email as a preferred way to communicate at work.

Of course, this finding doesn’t mean that 12 percent isn’t the thin edge of a very big knife. We may yet see social for the enterprise slice into the mainstream market, but the Forrester research is a nice reminder of the gap between what’s commonplace among media types and geeks and what’s still alien to “regular people.” Several articles have made this point lately about consumer social media and Twitter. Perhaps it’s worth making about enterprise social as well.

For the time being, is enterprise social overblown?

Image courtesy of Flickr user Iain Farrell

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