Forrester – is enterprise social software still in the early adoption phase?

Enterprise 2.0 is a hot topic as business executives and IT leaders seek ways to bring social technologies into their business. But hype aside, are we close to seeing a social revolution in business? Not so fast. According to our recent survey of 4,985 US information workers, we find that we’re still at the very beginning of social software use in business. The employees currently using the technology are early adopters of technology — individuals with high incomes and positive attitudes about technology — who are mostly testing the waters at this point. Thus, content and collaboration professionals rolling out enterprise 2.0 strategies and technologies need to understand how social tools are currently being used before they map out their long-range plans. This report outlines who is using enterprise 2.0 technologies, how they’re using them, and the policies businesses need to put into place to support them.

Interesting survey results from Forrester. I’ve been reviewing some the details shared in coverage on RRW, CMSWire and CIO Asia.

Forrester aren’t exactly saying don’t bother, but rather the message is that only a few groups of savvy users are seeing the benefits. Interestingly, these standout groups include Generation X and also the the busiest people within a company. In fact, while on one hand Forrester’s data suggests social business software isn’t critical to users, those users are more productive than non-users. Perhaps they aren’t considered critical because critical mass hasn’t yet been achieved in the surveyed organisations.

I’m also encouraged by this advice:

Forrester says that while it’s good to provide a range of social tools that give workers flexibility, it’s more important to find the tools that best address the needs of your workforce. Be sure to evaluate vendors based on how well their technologies address these issues instead of the size of their offering.

This reflects my own opinion that wide spread viral adoption inside organisations is very rare. In fact, I’m talking to more and more organisations where viral adoption has stalled with a group of early adopters – while this is often seen as demonstrating the potential, it doesn’t actual help them to move forward to get that all important critical mass.

I also believe that getting social business right can also be a source of competitive advantage, while other organisations continue to experiment (and even fail). The uneven adoption of enterprise social software can therefore be treated as an opportunity at this point.

Anyway, how well does Forrester’s survey reflect your experiences?