As we prepare to close the books on 2012, I've been thinking about what the past 12 months have meant for our industry. It’s been an exciting year -- one in which the practice of enterprise collaboration has begun to grow into maturity. If it were up to me, 2012 would be known as the year of enterprise collaboration. And so would 2013.

We’re a long way from realizing the potential of enterprise collaboration, but I think the coming year will bring some impressive advancements. Here are a few of my hopes for what we’ll see in 2013:

Focusing on Productivity

As many of us have been writing and saying for some time, social for the sake of social is not going to help the enterprise. However, genuine collaboration and related social communication within the enterprise can make jobs easier.

This benefit alone is extremely enticing to management (improved productivity for teams and ultimately the entire workforce), as well as to rank-and-file employees -- who really should be considered the customers in the scheme of building social collaboration solutions.

Responding to Employee Needs

Funny as it may seem, many in-demand employees are assigning higher importance to things like organizational accessibility, or workplaces that have collaborative and supportive environments. Employees prefer working with people they like or with whom they've established a collaborative affinity.

This is a positive trend for our industry, as it will continue to spur demand for deeper and better enterprise collaboration programming and product development.

collaboration_shutterstock_80701129.jpgThe novelty of social collaboration solutions is quickly being replaced by a more urgent and telling demand to get something effective in-place, and to do so as quickly as possible. As early adopter organizations deploy collaboration solutions, word does spread and this leads to a sort of domino effect where competing or parallel organizations rush to develop similar offerings for their organizations.

Capturing ROI

With more companies clamoring to get on-board with social collaboration solutions, we all need to remember that there will be a call to accountability at some point. That is, enterprises are actively trying to set measurable metrics and standards to determine if and how social collaboration solutions are making a bottom-line impact. As we approach 2013, one exciting -- though potentially cluttered -- area to watch closely is analytics.