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The number one company in worldwide market share for Enterprise Social Software is...(drum roll)…IBM. This is the third year in a row that the technology giant has been named first in this category by industry research firm International Data Corporation (IDC). 

IBM achieved this ranking on the basis of 2011 revenue. According to the IDC study, Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2011 Vendor Shares, IBM’s social enterprise software revenue grew faster than any competitor, and nearly twice as fast as the market overall.

IBM Connections

This is a considerable feat, given that the market for business social software grew almost 40 percent between 2010 and 2011. IDC said that market is expected to continue at this level of growth for each of the next four years, reaching US$ 4.5 billion by 2016.

IDC found that virtually all of the social business vendors had double-digit growth in this period. The top two providers, IBM and Jive, each had more than 70 percent year-over-year increases, and the fastest growing was Yammer, with a 132 percent growth rate. Yammer has reportedly been purchased by Microsoft for US$ 1.2 billion.

IBM Connections is the company’s social networking platform, available in either cloud-based or on-premises versions, and it allows one-click collaboration and the functionality to create social communities both inside and outside a company.

Inside IBM, social business collaboration is widespread. The company said that over 400,000 IBM employees connect and collaborate through Connections, resulting in more than 67,000 communities, over 9 million downloads of nearly 500,000 shared files, and, on a daily basis, about 35 million instant message chats.

IBM customers for Connections include Lowe’s Home Improvement, TD Bank, Electrolux, Bayer Material Science, The Ottawa Hospital and Earthwatch. One-third of Fortune 100 companies use IBM’s social software, as do 80 percent of the top 10 retailers and banks.

Managing Relationships

Social business software, adapting and extending techniques used in consumer social networking, is rapidly being adopted by companies who are looking for new, and potentially better, ways to manage their relationships with clients, customers and suppliers.

Additionally, companies are looking to mine and analyze the reams of data they are acquiring to find out how consumer-based social networks are discussing, complaining or praising their brands.

IBM’s field research indicates that the market for social business software continues to grow dramatically. Its 2012 study of 1700 CEOs found that, while only 16 percent of those CEOs’ companies are currently using social platforms to connect with customers, that number is expected to grow to 57 percent within the next three to five years.