Bad leadership, technology focus will doom social business to initial failure, says Gartner

Enterprise applications will fuse gaming, social networking and mobile technology

Poor leadership and overreliance on technology will doom most enterprises' efforts at social business to failure, at least initially, warned Carol Rozwell, vice president and distinguished analyst at Gartner.

However, once the kinks are worked out, enterprise social networks will be the primary way employees will gather, share and act upon information to get things done, Rozwell added.

The delay in successful social network adoption will be caused by a "push-me, pull-you" problem.

"Traditional technology rollouts, such as ERP [enterprise resource planning] or CRM [customer relationship management], followed a 'push' paradigm. Workers were trained on an app and were then expected to use it. In contrast, social initiatives require a 'pull' approach, one that engages workers and offers them a significantly better way to work. In most cases, they can't be forced to use social apps, they must opt-in," Rozwell observed.

To overcome that problem, corporate leaders must focus on how social networks work in order to optimize employee interactions using those networks, she added.

Gartner predicted that half of large enterprises will have internal Facebook-like social networks by 2016, and one-third of those networks will be considered essential business tools, similar to email and phones today.

These Facebook-like networks will be used as a general enterprise communications platform where data and events from outside the organization are brought into employee conversations and collaboration efforts, explained Nikos Drakos, research director at Gartner.

Social business is becoming more important to enterprises around the world. According to a global survey of around 3,500 business executives, managers and analysts conducted by MIT Sloan Management Review and Deloitte, a full 86 percent said they expect social business to be important or somewhat important in three years.

In addition, Gartner predicted that the majority of new enterprise applications will be based on gamified-social-mobile fusion by 2017. That phenomenon is the combination of gaming, social networks and mobile technology into a "superset" that improves the attractiveness, usability and effectiveness of applications, explained Tom Austin, vice president and Gartner fellow.

"Users should include gamified-social-mobile fusion as a desired set of characteristics when evaluating new application investments," Austin advised.

Gamification employs gaming techniques to improve productivity and profit. Since 2010, more than 350 companies have launched gamification projects, according to Gabe Zichermann, author of Gamification Revolution.

In a recent Huffington Post blog, Zichermann related that IT companies such as Oracle (Nasdaq: ORCL), SAP (NYSE: SAP), Cisco (Nasdaq: CSCOand are using gamification as part of their enterprise strategy, and consulting firms such as Deloitte and Accenture have launched practices targeting gamification of Fortune 500 companies.

In the coming years, enterprises will have to come to terms with social networking and gamification to improve productivity and retain employees. At the same time, these technologies need to be understood and implemented in a well-thought-out, strategic way; otherwise, millions of dollars and years will be wasted on unproductive technology albatrosses.

For more:
- see Gartner's release
- check out the MIT-Deloitte survey results
- read Zichermann's blog post

Related articles:
IBM's cloud computing business boosts earnings, Dow Jones index gives up bid to trademark 'social enterprise'