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Posted by Jeremiah K. Owyang on January 5, 2009
At Forrester we tend to look forward, not back. In fact, right now we are preparing our predictions for what 2009 will bring in the social application space. But the end of the year is also a time to reflect. So we looked back at our 2008 predictions to see how we did. Overall, we had one big mistake (vendor relationship management went nowhere) and we were too optimistic on several other predictions. Optimism, it seems, comes along with this space. But we were pleased that the entrance of corporations into the social world seems to be coming along fine, despite the recent Motrin kerfuffle, to cite one example.
Hindsight is 20-20; it’s harder to remember what life felt like in December of 2007, before the recession loomed large, Barack Obama used social technologies to win the election, and social technology became mainstream. But cast mind back 12 months, and then see if you would have agreed with our predictions . . . and what can be learned from the mistakes we made. Here they are, along with the grades we give ourselves 12 months later. (Note: these predictions were in a Forrester document available to our clients (Update: Which included the help of Charlene Li and Peter Kim, who have since moved on to become alumni). We’ve reproduced the predictions, with some edits for length that don’t affect the content.
Result: Give us a B on this one. There were indeed many more social applications, as evidenced by the 150 excellent entrants to the Forrester Groundswell awards. And, there is definitely a renewed focus on metrics. But social is far from universal, and the state of measurement sadly lags social deployments.
Result: A-. Community managers aren’t universal. But there are an awful lot of them, and the ones we know have definitely risen in prominence within their companies, see this list compiled of community managers at enterprise class corporations.
Result: B-. Recent events like the Motrin fiasco show the groundswell is keeping people honest. But we still hear the occasional corporate executive asking us if they can fake it. (We always tell them that would be a very bad idea.) We still think this will come true, but may take another year or more.
Result: F. Proved to be far too optimistic; never happened.
Result: A-. Twitter dominated the micromedia market. Companies from Comcast to H&R Block to Zappos have learned to accomplish real business goals with it. We expect a whole lot of further growth in marketer use of Twitter in 2009.
Result: C. This trend is powerful, and will develop, perhaps even the way we predicted. But standards move slowly and we see fragments of technologies from Facebook’s Connect, Google’s Friend Connect, and OpenID. Look for this opening up to gather momentum in 2009 where a standardized protocol between all of these technologies to merge.
Result: D. Social search didn’t catch on very well. But Google did add the ability to promote or demote search results to its mainstream searches –but it lacked a true social element. We did start to see tools that help people quickly share information like ex-Googlers at Friendfeed but the tool doesn’t highlight search as a primary effort. Now that large web platforms like Yahoo, Microsoft, and AOL are expanding their social features we should expect search to be impacted in the next year. Social search will get here, one way or another.
What are your best ideas for what’s going to happen in 2009? And what predictions already out there do you think are right – or wrong?