Organisations are set to take a keener interest in collaborative computing with about half of IT decision makers in large companies expected to implement a formal strategy in 2008, according to Forrester Research.

The interest in collaborative technology offerings tips heavily in favour of Microsoft at 55 percent, which outpaced every other incumbent vendor by at least 40 percent and clobbered up-and-coming vendors such as Google, which received no interest.

While the survey didn't ask the IT decision makers what products they would use from each vendor specifically, Erica Driver, the Forrester analyst who helped write the report, said that IT departments in large enterprises seemed to be gravitating towards Microsoft's SharePoint, a server and application that includes a suite of collaborative technologies, including wikis and blogs.

"Microsoft has expanded the SharePoint Server into a Swiss army knife of information workplace capabilities, including content, collaboration, and business intelligence, which many customers find valuable," Driver said.
The report, titled Enterprise Collaboration: Hot As Ever in 2008, didn't mention whether corporate IT departments or the business units they work with demanded the increased implementation of collaborative technology in 2008. But Rob Koplowitz, a Forrester analyst, said IT departments seemed to understand what their business units wanted more than in years past. "IT is taking a more leadership role [with collaboration] and driving it out to the business units," Koplowitz said.

Of 1,017 IT decision makers in North America and Europe surveyed, 15 percent identified implementing a collaboration strategy as a "critical priority" and 34 percent deemed it a "priority." A third, 33 percent, said collaboration "was not a priority" while 17 percent it was "not on our agenda" altogether.

The most common choice for the 215 IT department decision makers (at organisations with 1,000 or more employees) looking for collaboration software maker was Microsoft, at 55 percent, followed distantly by 13 percent who said "others" and 9 percent for IBM. Google registered at 0 percent with this group, indicating that Google Apps has not yet begun to win the favour of larger enterprises, said Koplowitz.

"I believe they are getting good uptake in smaller firms and are probably in use among enterprise users in non-sanctioned ways," he said. "They have some things to do be a viable enterprise alternative and all indications are that they will get there over time.

In breaking down the specific types of technologies this group would purchase during 2008, more than 70 percent would invest in messaging software while 68 percent expressed interest in "real-time collaboration software." In addition, 28 percent will invest in social software, including technologies such as wikis, RSS and blogs.