Socializing goes big in 2008

Summary:Expect to see social networking, unified communications and green IT make a bigger play in Asia this year, say market analysts.

Enhanced collaboration and Web 2.0 tools, such as social networking, will continue to be integral components across Asian businesses in 2008, say industry analysts.

Claus Mortensen, principal for emerging technology research, digital marketplace and new media at IDC, predicts that more companies in Asia will create and maintain corporate profiles on social network sites.

In addition, the proliferation of mobile handsets that let users upload pictures, update status messages and the like, will contribute greatly to the importance of Web 2.0 in the consumer market.

"Increasingly, more users in Asia have these handsets and mobile services are getting more prevalent throughout the region," Mortensen said. "We expect Asian carriers to push hard to encourage their customers to make use of mobile uploads--be it pictures or video, in places like South Korea, Singapore and Hong Kong."

As for businesses, social software technologies will increasingly be brought into the enterprise to augment traditional collaboration platforms, said David Cearley, Gartner's vice president and distinguished analyst.

In fact, IDC predicts that more Asian companies will create and maintain corporate profiles on social networking sites.

"We're already seeing some companies acquiring 'real estate' on virtual world Web sites like Second Life," said Mortensen. "These virtual spaces can be used for virtual meetings, virtual discussions, and so on, and will be an excellent way for multinational companies to collaborate across time zones."

Right through to 2010, the enterprise Web 2.0 space will see continued product innovation. Gartner predicts that new entrants to the market will comprise start-ups, large vendors and traditional collaboration vendors.

Cearley said: "Expect significant consolidation as competitors strive to deliver robust Web 2.0 offerings to the enterprise."

Mortensen advised businesses looking to deploy Web 2.0 tools--irrespective of whether it is to facilitate interaction between employees or with external parties for marketing purposes--must ascertain exactly what goals they hope to achieve by doing so.

"Web 2.0 potentially adds a lot of complexity to the IT and marketing departments in any company, and if you go for a blind-folded adoption approach, it may turn out to be a waste of time and effort," the IDC analyst said. "Enterprises need to map out what they want to achieve and why."

Once this is done, research shows that Web 2.0 services and applications can often help to achieve these goals.

"But, spending time and money on implementing tools internally that end up not being used by the employees is obviously a waste," said Mortensen. "And spending revenue on advertising approaches that don't reach the target group is obviously a poor way of using an already strained marketing budget."

Unified is big, too
Besides Web 2.0 and social networking tools, enterprises will also focus on unified communications (UC) this year, according to IDC.

"UC and Web 2.0 collaboration tools are actually very similar, [where] the only real difference is that UC is not Web-based," Mortensen explained. "So in a sense, Web 2.0 collaboration tools could be seen as web-based UC."

As Gartner expects most companies to implement UC over the next three years, the market analyst sees this as the first major change in voice communications since the digital PBX and cellular phone changes in the 1970s and 1980s.

"Today, 20 percent of the installed base with PBX has migrated to IP telephony, but more than 80 percent are already doing trials of some form," said Cearley.

As enterprises embrace UC, they will become more open to and focused on the collaborative aspects of their business. "In turn, that will make the leap to internal Web 2.0 adoption easier," Mortensen said.

Also showing potential as a technology to watch out for in 2008 are the Web platforms that provide businesses access to service-based infrastructure services, information, applications and business processes, said Cearley. "Software as a service (SaaS) is becoming a viable option in more markets."

Another focus this year is on green IT. According to Gartner, green IT plans will accelerate and expand this year.

In light of this, organizations must consider potential regulations and have alternative plans for data center and capacity growth, said Cearley.

"Regulations are multiplying and have the potential to seriously constrain companies in building data centers, as the impact on power grids, carbon emissions from increased use and other environmental impacts are under scrutiny," he said.

Topics: Networking, Browser, CXO, Emerging Tech, IT Employment, Mobility

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