For many of the large software vendors, this is the antithesis of what they want to see happen. I expect we’ll see additional acquisitions in the market, as traditional portal/collaboration businesses look to lock-in their customer base through a social offering.

A challenge for social vendors is that unlike traditional vertical software systems, such as CRM or CMS, social tends to layer itself horizontally, touching multiple systems. It will be interesting to watch over the coming year how social capabilities are going to continue to be made available.

Web Content Management (WCM) and Social will converge more quickly

"Big Data" comes from a number of sources; structured content systems and unstructured content systems are two of the most recognized types.

Enterprise 2.0 was all about wrapping unstructured activity (e.g. blogging, forum discussions) around structured content (e.g. files stored in document management systems). The same is going to take place with web content management platforms for public-facing Web properties (browser-based and mobile).

Social won't be a separate set of activities, but will instead be merged with structured content. As organizations seek to better understand consumer behavior through the use of Big Data analytics engines, the convergence of social and WCM will facilitate this. Ultimately, this insight will create the broader perspective that helps businesses better understand their customers.

I predict that organizations will continue to find social – specifically online customer communities – to be a significant traffic and awareness driver for their brands, products and services. Especially since B2Cs recognize that their traditional website models are being turned upside-down with consumers who are using search as their starting point and with the growing demand for mobile.

Data ownership will become a concern

For the past six or seven years, consumers have let information flow freely. Google, Twitter and Facebook have been three of the biggest beneficiaries of this consumer-driven content bonanza. Now, businesses are recognizing that the real value in social and Big Data is who owns the data.

The importance of data will become a central theme in 2013, as I anticipate we will see businesses take a more active role in controlling who owns the data created in their communities and in their social media channels. Businesses will seek to better understand behaviors, trends and recommendations that can be made available to their end consumers. As search continues to become smarter through the combination of social insights, less value will be placed on reporting. However, the consumerization of business intelligence will help quickly connect people to the information they need.

CIOs will regain influence

The importance of the role of the CIO has waned over the past several years; however, in 2013, I anticipate that the CIO’s influence in the organization will regain importance.

Trends related to data ownership, the convergence between public (customer-facing or external-facing) and private (employee-facing or internal-facing) communities, and bring your own device (BYOD) to work will force businesses to rethink critical security, content ownership and other aspects of their digital businesses.

Additionally, a somewhat obvious observation/trend surrounding the use of mobile will have a strong showing in 2013. Mobile first is going to be a common theme from a consumer experience perspective. That is, rather than designing for the web experience first, the mobile experience will be the priority and the web experience will follow the design patterns of mobile.

Today, there is a level of maturity in valuing social as a strategic capability that businesses offer to their customers, partners, and employees. I see 2013 as a significant year for the social industry. I’m certain that it will be as exciting as 2012.

Image courtesy of Peshkova (Shutterstock)

Editor's Note: Interested in reading more of Rob's thoughts on what makes a Social Business tick? Check out Social Business 101: Building the Foundation