Fifty-seven percent of workers polled by IDC use social media at least once weekly for business purposes. Generally, the tools are being used to acquire knowledge and ask questions of the community. Fifteen percent of those surveyed use consumer social tools instead of corporate-sponsored social tools because of their ease of use, familiarity due to personal use and low cost.

The earliest adopters of social media are in marketing, social networking tools are gaining deeper penetration in the enterprise, with greater use by executive managers and IT.

IDC also sees the social software market getting much bigger in response to the growing mainstreaming of social software. What IDC dubs the “socialytic” application (which sound like a forgotten term from Athenian philosophy) will emerge, “fusing social/collaboration software and analytics to business logic/workflow and data.”

"If you look deep into the social business movement you will see that we are on the brink of a fundamental change in the way businesses interact with customers, partners, suppliers, and employees," said Michael Fauscette, group vice president of Software Business Strategies at IDC.

"Businesses today fall into three camps – the social 'denyer', the accidental socialite, and the socially aware," Fauscette said. "Regardless of where a company falls in these categories, customers expectations of technologies and the way they interact with suppliers have changed, driven greatly by the social Web."

By Mark Alvarez