Social media will replace email for many businesses: Gartner

In four years, social networking services will replace e-mail for about 20 per cent of business user

By 2012, over 50 per cent of businesses will be using microblogging to share quick updates with consumers and colleagues and to get quick answers to questions.

"However, it will be difficult for microblogging as a stand-alone function to achieve widespread adoption within the enterprise. Twitter's scale is one of the reasons for its popularity," said Jeffrey Mann, research vice-president for Gartner.

In five years, 70 per cent of communications applications designed on PCs will be modelled after smartphone collaboration applications. Cell phones will replace desk phones, and most collaboration tools will be integrated with them, according to Gartner.

Through 2015, about 25 per cent of businesses will use social network analysis to improve performance and productivity. Such analysis allows companies to study communication patterns and information flow that occurs between staff and customers.