Social networking to replace e-mail for business says report

Gartner report predicts 20% of business users will have dumped email by 2014
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Gartner report predicts 20% of business users will have dumped email by 2014

Gartner report says that "social networking services" will replace e-mail as the primary method of communications for 20% of business users by 2014.

In a report issued on Wednesday, Gartner talks up the rapid growth of mobile email in business with the research outfit predicting that worldwide wireless e-mail users will reach 1 billion by the end of 2014. However the most interesting predictions relate to the integration of social networking and collaboration tools increasingly being used to compliment e-mail.

"People increasingly want to use mobile devices for collaboration to share content, information, and experiences with their communities," Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner said. "Social paradigms are converging with e-mail, instant messaging, voice over Internet Protocol (VoIP) and presence, creating new collaboration styles."

Gartner points to cloud-based e-mail and collaboration services from the major operators such as Microsoft, IBM and Google which already include mobile support but are "very early in adoption" according to the report.

However, Gartner predicts that adoption will grow significantly in the next three to five years. In 2009, only 3 percent of e-mail accounts were in the cloud but by the end of 2012, that number will increase to 10 percent.

The largest growth area in wireless e-mail looks set to come as businesses roll out mobile e-mail beyond just the executive level. 

"Most midsize and large organizations in North America and Europe have deployed enterprise wireless e-mail already, but on average, for less than 5 percent of the workforce," said Basso. 

The report summary is less clear about exactly what form of social networking and collaboration the company believes will replace e-mail for the 1 in 5 business users. 

Full press release.