If you believe the outpourings in the media, social computing is set to turn our lives on their heads. It’s true that we’ve all had to learn a new Internet language over the past decade. A recent poll made “tweet” (posting a message on Twitter) the word of the year for 2009. But how important is social computing in the workplace? No doubt many individuals (even some outside California) have welded tweeting into their lifestyles. More immediately practical social computing services — the likes of LinkedIn, for example — have grown like wildfire over the past few years, and carved out a solid niche for themselves in the enterprise.

For IT sourcing professionals, social computing looks likely to be one of the issues of the next five years. HP Enterprise Services recently told Forrester that, across its global client base, it supports 500,000 end users on its social computing platform. That’s approaching the equivalent of 10% of the number of end user desktops that HP manages for clients worlwide.

Forrester’s own Workforce Technographics research in the US reinforces this picture of increasing social technology adoption. “The State Of Workforce Technology Adoption: US Benchmark 2009,” published in October 2009, shows that already 11% of respondents were using social networking sites for work purposes. Younger employees, unsurprisingly, use social media more while at work than their older counterparts — suggesting that demand for enterprise support can only grow in future.

An upcoming document from Forrester examines these issues more fully in the context of desktop outsourcing and managed services. Social computing emerged as one of three major change drivers for desktop technologies in the enterprise, and the document explores in detail the implications of these change drivers for the sourcing and vendor management group. Look out for the new publication “EMEA Buyers Need A New Sourcing Recipe For Managed Desktop Services,” due for publication on the Sourcing and Vendor Management home page in the next couple of weeks.



Andrew Parker, Vice President & Principal Analyst