Social Computing in the Real Business World: Disruptive and Beneficial

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Saugatuck Technology Releases First Research Study on Enterprise Impact of Social Computing

The business potential of enterprise social computing (ESC) goes far beyond typical reports promoting it to improve marketing and customer service. Research released today by Saugatuck Technology shows that ESC solutions also deliver quantifiable business value by improving collaboration and business performance within and between user enterprises, from Research & Development to Customer Service & Support - with the result that ESC is increasingly viewed as an business game-changer.

But as noted in Saugatuck's new report, "Bridging the Gap: Achieving the Promise of Enterprise Social Computing" (, the scenario is not all rosy. Significant obstacles exist for both user organizations and providers alike - and are not necessarily planned for, or managed, effectively.

"Our research shows that, just as with other emerging technologies before it, there are critical technology, management and - most importantly - cultural hurdles that must be overcome before social computing can deliver on its potential. If these are not addressed, then enterprise social computing will be relegated to 'niche software' status, and used only for limited business functions," according to Saugatuck research vice president Mark Koenig, the study's lead author. "More importantly, many user and provider organizations will have wasted substantial resources that could have been much more effectively utilized."

Koenig's statement is borne out by the study's key findings, which include the following:

  • While market rhetoric today centers on externally-focused Enterprise Social Computing, most of the activity is still internally focused. Saugatuck sees this changing quickly. By year-end 2009, the majority of Enterprise Social Computing will be externally focused, due to a greater emphasis on ROI. Such significant shifts in usage require important shifts in resource and user policy and management.
  • By year-end 2009, membership retention will overtake acquisition and participation as the primary concern for a majority of social network and community managers. As their business models change, providers will face fundamental changes in their revenue streams and compensation models.
  • By year-end 2010, one-quarter of user business process improvement initiatives will include the integration of information from Enterprise Social Computing solutions into the context of business applications and workflows - requiring customization and integration significantly beyond what is available today.
  • Through 2011, more than fifty percent of externally-focused Enterprise Social Computing initiatives will fail to meet user executive expectations due to misalignment with business goals or corporate culture conflict. User-Provider relationships will suffer.

The 24-page report includes insights, analysis, and recommendations from Saugatuck's 2008 and 2009 social computing research program, including in-depth interviews with user executives regarding their ESC plans and experiences, and strategic briefings with leading and emergent ESC providers.

While this is the first major social computing study to be released by Saugatuck, the firm has developed and published research on the topic since 2005. Other recently-published Saugatuck research on the subject includes the following:

  • 02-18-09 Facebook ToS Controversy Stirs Up Social Networks: Who Owns Content?
  • 12-29-08 Four Key Challenges for Social Computing in 2009 (M. Koenig, 4 pages, MKT-546, $$$)
  • 12-19-08 Five Disruptive Technologies to Watch in 2009
  • 12-10-08 Connecting Social Networks - Is Data Portability Really Getting Closer? (M. Koenig, 3 pages, RA-536)
  • 11-11-08 Defrag Conference 2008: Pulling "A-ha" Out of the Stream
  • 09-12-08 Research Reports Suggest Enterprise Social Computing Growing Pains - So What Else is New?
  • 07-28-08 QT-487 Antenna Software: A Platform for Enabling Mobility-as-a-Service

About Saugatuck Technology

Saugatuck Technology Inc. provides market strategy consulting and subscription research services to senior executives, information technology vendors, and investors, combining strategy development, business planning, and market intelligence with first-hand research of executive technology buyer trends.

Founded in 1999, Saugatuck is headquartered in Westport, Connecticut (USA), with offices in Silicon Valley and in Germany. For more information, go to, or call +1.203.454.3900 in the US, or +49.6123.630285 in Germany. To request a briefing with our analysts, contact Chris MacGregor at chris.macgregor (at)


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