The business benefits of social software platforms will lead to email being replaced as the primary means of communication by 2014, according to analyst Gartner.
Increasing business use of tools such as Twitter and Facebook has resulted in more demand for such systems, says the firm, which predicts that 20 per cent of organisations will use them as their key communication medium by 2014.
Greater security, the availability of the so-called “white-labelled” social networks and more tolerance from organisations allowing use of personal accounts at work are among the factors influencing the business uptake of such tools, says the study.
"The rigid distinction between email and social networks will erode as both become more developed. Email will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer email capabilities, " said Matt Cain, research vice president at Gartner.
"While email is already almost fully penetrated in the corporate space, we expect to see steep growth rates for sales of premises and cloud-based social networking services," he said.
The analyst also predicts that in the next couple of years more than half of global businesses will be engaged in some sort of microblogging, with more control and security features, though standalone enterprise use of Twitter-like tools will have less than five per cent penetration.
And only 25 per cent of businesses will routinely use social network analysis to improve performance and productivity through 2015, according to research.
The study adds that more than 70 per cent of IT-led social media projects will fail as technology departments tend to provide an IT solution rather than a social solution that targets specific business value. Gartner says that businesses will need to develop better skills to be able to develop adequate social media solutions.
Gartner also predicts more activity around the development of mobile-based collaborative tools over the next few years.
"As more organisations consider replacing desk phones with mobile phones, they may wish to anchor their collaboration tools also on the mobile phone," said Ken Dulaney, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.