Sales of social collaboration software are set to grow by by more than 40% a year until 2016, according to research from market-watcher IDC.
The global market for ‘enterprise social software’ was worth just $0.9 billion in 2011, but IDC predicts this will rise to $4.5 billion over the next five years.
IDC said it expects social software to encroach and possibly replace other collaboration applications throughout the forecast period, with sales growing at a compound annual rate of 43%. To put that in perspective, Gartner recently found that the global enterprise software market as a whole is growing at just 4% a year.
"Companies will increasingly want to integrate and even embed social software into all enterprise applications, so it is essential for vendors to provide open APIs and capabilities to put social software into the enterprise workflow," said IDC analyst, Michael Fauscette.
In a related piece of research, IDC found that IBM was the world’s number vendor of enterprise social software, with sales growing 40% in 2011 to reach $105 million, the report found. IBM’s flagship social enterprise tool is called Connections.
Jive Software placed second on the vendor table with sales of $65 million, with Communispace, Telligent, Socialtext, VMWare and Yammer rounding out the top ten.
As if on cue, Microsoft’s long-rumored acquisition of Yammer closed this week. The software giant paid $1.2 billion for the social collaboration start-up, and will integrate it into its existing productivity stack.
Alistair Mitchell, CEO of Huddle, a UK start-up which has had success in the social collaboration space, said that Microsoft’s acquisition was more than just validation of the enterprise collaboration space.
"It’s evidence that the technology goliath is now playing catch up," Mitchell said in a statement. "By acquiring Yammer, Microsoft is trying to plug the gaps in its lagging social strategy. [Microsoft] SharePoint is meant to be social, but it was built 11 years ago for content storage, not collaboration, locks information in silos and fails to support the new ways of working."
Mitchell went on to say Sharepoint is "antiquated software that is now struggling".