In the span of a few days, Forrester and The Economist Intelligence Unit released quantitative reports based on surveys of social technology adoption. The EIU report, sponsored by Fast, a search engine company, is available for free if you register on the Fast website. The Forrester report can be purchased online ($279 - I have yet to purchase a copy, this article is based on extracts).
Forrester looks at consumer interaction in the age of the read/write web. Who are active participants (creators), who reads and comments (critics) and who lurks (spectators) - six categories in all. EIU interviewed managers in large companies about their experiences and expectations of social software.
A question I get asked frequently about social software is "How can we use it to save money?". While there are some specific business cases for cost reduction I have always felt that collaboration primarily fosters empowerment, innovation and the potential for better quality service; the EIU survey supports this notion with figures stating that 30% of executives expect social software to offer cost savings, nearly 80% see the potential for increased revenue or higher margins.
Mashing up some of the quotes from the EIU survey, it confirms what early adopters have known for some time, namely that social tehnologies "have significant implications for big business" and that "the world's multinationals [have begun] to see many web 2.0 technologies as corporate tools" not just "frivolous" innovation amongst "enthusiasts, especially the young".
Scott Vine extracts key figures and quotes from the EIU report while Charlene Li and Ross Mayfield share their thoughts about the Forrester survey. Although the Forrester survey uses a different classification, it provides a quantitative view of Ross's widely quoted power law of participation.