Enterprise social networks may not deliver the benefits their instigators are looking for thanks to a lack of understanding of how they work and the focus being too much on content and technology, research firm Gartner believes.
Although the analyst firm expects enterprise social networks to become the primary communications channels for business information, it also thinks that over the next three years' inadequate leadership will limit the positive effects of the new technologies.
"There is too much focus on content and technology, and not enough focus on leadership and relationships," analyst Carol Rozwell said.
"Leaders need to develop a social business strategy that makes sense for the organisation and tackle the tough organisational change work head on and early on."
She adds that "just sponsoring a social project is not enough; managers need to demonstrate their commitment to a more open, transparent work style by their actions."
The analyst firm predicts that in four years' time, half of all large organisations will have internal, Facebook-like social networks and that a third of these will be considered as essential as today's phones.
Several software vendors such as Microsoft which bought Yammer for $1.1 billion last year are betting large on enterprise social networks. Forrester estimates enterprise social software to become a substantial market in its own right by 2016, worth some $6.1 billion.