Business Gets Social



  Free preview of Gartner research


This special report introduces thought-leading research from Gartner that business and IT leaders can use to guide their enterprises toward new ways of doing business with the aid of social media.


Since 2010, interest in Gartner's Business Gets Social Key Initiative has skyrocketed. Social media has moved from the experimental stage to business imperative. Early implementations that exploited the social Web's reach and velocity have turned into strategic initiatives designed to take advantage of mass collaboration. Social media affords a way to tap the collective insight of employees, customers, business partners and the social Web even if determining the precise value of social initiatives remains a challenge. Gartner's research addresses the breadth of topics that social media leaders need to think about and plan for as they nudge their enterprise toward becoming a social business. The research we highlight here should help leaders of social media initiatives to develop or refine their enterprise's approach to this significant, disruptive and exciting change in how business is conducted. We have organized our reports into four categories:

  • Seeking social intelligence.

  • Socially-enabling the business.

  • Enabling technologies.

  • Foundations.

Seeking Social Intelligence

People add 5 petabytes of information to the Web each day, reflecting the attitudes, intentions and venues of businesses and consumers. Social networks will have more than 1 billion users by the end of 2012, and the artifacts users leave behind in social networks provide a treasure-trove of insight. In fact, some enterprises already mine this accumulation of conversations, comments, ratings and rankings for "social intelligence." Enterprises should do more to mine this data in order to uncover forward-looking intelligence, increase innovation, generate demand, and improve marketing, distribution and customer service. However, analyzing so many different kinds of data artifacts, including unstructured and rich media, and the sheer volume of data pose a major challenge for the IT organization. Then it must integrate the insights gained into enterprise processes.


"You Need an Enterprise Strategy for Social Business Initiatives"

"Survey Analysis: Social Media Is No Longer a 'Kids-Only' Playground"

"Market Insight: Opportunities Await in the Consumer Social Ecosystem"

"Defining A Social Media Strategy: Identify Audience and Engagement"

"Use Business Capability Modeling to Explore and Exploit the Collective"

"Mining the Collective: Context-Aware Computing Meets Pattern-Based Strategy"

"Top 10 Signals That Your Management Doesn't "Get" Social Media and What To Do About It"

Social CRM:

"Top Use Cases and Benefits for Successful Social CRM"

"Social CRM Has Made Your New Customer Service Systems Obsolete"

"The Gartner CRM Team's Perspective on Great Customer Experiences"

"Guide to CRM Analytics for CRM Customer Service, 2011"

"Analytics for CRM Customer Service: Key Roles and Metrics"

"How to Determine the TCO of Social CRM for Customer Service SaaS Solutions"

Tactics and trends:

"Market Insight: Participation Can Lead to Profit in the New Social Consumer Experience"

"Market Insight: How Consumers Socialize On the Go, The Rise of Portable Social Networks"

"Search Analytics Trends: Business Solutions Among Top Social Networking Sites"

"Ignorance Is Not Bliss When It Comes to Social Media Monitoring"

Socially-Enabling the Business

Social media is changing the way business is conducted. It enables rapid mass collaboration and creates transparency by allowing formerly hidden social structures to emerge. The information generated in social networks can inform operational processes, facilitate engagement with employees, customers, business partners and the social Web, and create new business opportunities. Social media can transform business functions beyond marketing and customer service โ€” use cases address a broad range of internal and external business functions. However, fear and uncertainty leads many enterprises to do nothing about social media or, worse, try to lock down employee access to social networks. Enterprises need prudent social media policies and disciplines, or they will be left behind by more adept competitors.

Best practices:

"Toolkit: Establishing a Policy for Social Media Participation"

"Five Steps to Social Media Reputation Management in Maintenance Mode"

"Reduce Privacy Risks When the Enterprise Uses Public Social Media"

"How To Stay Competitive With Video Interaction"

"Marketing Essentials: How to Engage the Blogosphere in Media Relations Programs"

"Marketing Essentials: How to Integrate Social Media Into Your Marketing Communications Strategy"

"Best Practice for Using Context Awareness to Support Workers at Different Skill Levels"

Case studies:

"Case Study: Tackle Customer Service to Expand Marketing Initiatives Using Social CRM"

"Newspaper Scandal Offers Lessons in Crisis of Reputation Management via Social Media"

"Digital Innovation Interview: Lonely Planet's Matt Goldberg and Chris Boden"


"Maverick* Research: Never Mind Consumerization; There Will Be No Consumers as We Know Them"

"The New Web: Rich, Mobile, Social, and Programmable"

"Five Ways Social Media Will Revolutionize Marketing"

"The Five Styles of 'Free': Emerging Business Models Threaten Significant Disruption"

"Market Trends: Social Media in Banking and Investment Services, Western Markets, 2011"

"U.S. Consumer Use of Social Media and Its Impact on Retailers"

Enabling Technologies

The boundaries between social and other kinds of techniques and technologies grow continually fainter. There are some independent social offerings, while other social capabilities appear in collaboration suites โ€” many available free or near-free in the cloud. Traditional software vendors include social capabilities in business applications, such as CRM and HR. Over time, the boundaries between social and collaborative applications (such as, email, instant messaging and texting) and business applications (such as finance or sales) will blur, and social capabilities will augment transactional activities. In an environment in which social blends with other applications, business and IT leaders should not consider only a specific business function when they develop requirements for social solutions. They should consider all of a worker's responsibilities and activities when planning business application investments.

IT leaders must also keep the underlying technology hidden when they give workers social capabilities. Users of public social media sites, such as Facebook or Twitter, and of enterprise solutions built with tools such as IBM Lotus Connections and NewsGator don't care about the technology beneath their tools. They want to connect with others and build productive relationships without extra steps or leaving the environment in which they are working. Solutions that make technology obvious and awkward will fail โ€” and the business processes they support will suffer, too.


"Magic Quadrant for Externally Facing Social Software"

"Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace"

"Magic Quadrant for Social CRM"

"Social CRM Market Definition and Magic Quadrant Criteria, 2011"

"Market Share Analysis: Team Collaboration and Web-Conferencing Software, Worldwide, 2010"

"Market Insight: Social Media Market Tops $7 Billion, Driven by Advertising"

"Forecast: Social Media Revenue, Worldwide, 2010-2015"


"Who's Who in Collaborative Decision Making"

"Cool Vendors in Social Software and Collaboration, 2011"

"Cool Vendors in CRM Marketing, 2011"

"SWOT: Facebook, Worldwide"

"SWOT: LinkedIn, Worldwide"

"Adobe Offers Answer to 'What's the Business Impact of Social Media?'"

"Facebook Overhaul Signals the Era of the Social Cloud"


"Use This Framework to Plan the Evolution of Social Networking Your Organization"

"Hype Cycle for Social Software, 2011"

"Hype Cycle for Business Use of Social Technologies, 2011"

"Use Social IT Management to Support IT Operations"

"The Use of Social IT Management Tools and Technologies for IT Operations Is Embryonic, but Growing"

"Apple iPhone Tracking Discovery Highlights Risks, Benefits of Location-Based Data Sharing"

"Supercharging Context Awareness With the Social Graph and Social Analytics"

"'s Chatter: Facebook-Like Feel for CRM Applications"

"Twitter for Business: Activity Streams Are the Future of Enterprise Microblogging"


Many enterprises struggle to determine the right approach and timing for their social initiatives. Often, they do not coordinate social initiatives and have too narrow an idea of the use cases that social media can support. Most do not start with a purpose aligned to the goals of both the enterprise and the participants. Vendors fuel the hype around social media as they try to capitalize on enterprise investments, and the hype confuses decision makers. To optimize their investments, enterprises must establish a shared understanding of social technologies and trends, and coordinate strategies and initiatives.

The basics:

"Apply a Comprehensive Planning Framework as Business Gets Social"

"Take Four Initial Steps Toward a Social Media Policy"

"Use a Gartner Governance Model to More Safely Empower Grassroots Social Media Efforts"

"12 Criteria to Assess Grassroots Risk and Potential in Social Media Solutions"

"Business Gets Social Innovation Key Initiative Overview"

"Roundup of Social Media Research 2H10 to 1H11"

"Key Issues for Social Software and Collaboration, 2011"

Classic research:

"The Business Impact of Social Computing: Real-World Results for Customer Engagement"

"The Business Impact of Social Computing: Real-World Examples of Value Network Collaboration"

"The Business Impact of Social Computing: Real-World Results for Recruitment"

"The Business Impact of Social Computing: Real-World Results in Life Insurance"

"How to Help Workers Pick the Right Social Software Tools for Their Tasks"

"How to Pick the Right Social Software Tools to Tap the Collective"

"Survey Says E-Mail Rocks; Social Networking Used by Some, Rejected by Few, Investigated by Most"

"Bridging the New Gap: Why Business Apps Will Get Social"

© 2011 Gartner, Inc. and/or its Affiliates. All Rights Reserved. Reproduction and distribution of this publication in any form without prior written permission is forbidden. The information contained herein has been obtained from sources believed to be reliable. Gartner disclaims all warranties as to the accuracy, completeness or adequacy of such information. Although Gartners research may discuss legal issues related to the information technology business, Gartner does not provide legal advice or services and its research should not be construed or used as such. Gartner shall have no liability for errors, omissions or inadequacies in the information contained herein or for interpretations thereof. The opinions expressed herein are subject to change without notice.

Not a Gartner Client?

Want more research like this?
Learn the benefits of becoming a Gartner client.

Contact us online





Why Gartner

Gartner delivers the technology-related insight you need to make the right decisions, every day.

Find out more