Forrester Research, Inc. (Nasdaq: FORR) has announced the Groundswell Awards, the first awards to honor excellence in key business uses of social technologies. The inaugural global awards will be announced at Forrester’s Consumer Forum in Chicago, October 11-12, 2007.

“It’s time somebody recognized that social technologies — blogs, wikis, communities, widgets, and all the rest — aren’t just toys or conversation pieces: They’re also effective business tools,” said Josh Bernoff, vice president and principal analyst at Forrester. “We will concentrate on business effectiveness and value — not just the prettiest blog or the most active wiki — to choose the winners.”

“Forrester’s research shows that nearly half of all consumers use social technologies at least monthly,” said Charlene Li, Forrester vice president and principal analyst. “But businesses often see social technologies as a threat. Instead, we urge companies to focus on the five main goals for using social technologies to interact with their customers: listening, speaking, energizing their most enthusiastic backers, providing support, and embracing their customers’ best ideas.” Forrester also recognizes two additional goals: managing, or using these technologies to empower employees, and social impact, where social technologies improve society.

These seven goals are also the seven categories in which the Groundswell Awards will be judged. For example, Forrester will recognize the best use of technologies for listening and speaking to customers. Any size company or organization can enter. Forrester is actively soliciting entries for the awards, which should be emailed to by September 1, 2007.

For more details, see the Groundswell Awards blog post.

The Groundswell Awards are an outgrowth of the book, Groundswell, to be published in 2008 by Harvard Business School Press. Written by Forrester’s Josh Bernoff and Charlene Li, Groundswell will focus on effective business strategies in a world transformed by social technologies, and will feature the types of case studies recognized by the Groundswell Awards. Bernoff and Li will judge the award entries.