It seems to me that new technologies, systems and applications can come about in one of two ways.  Either by someone coming up with a bright idea then finding a market for it, or by looking at what potential users are doing already and developing products to exploit those trends.

The bad news is that bright new ideas are becoming harder to find. The good news, that trends will always be with us, and forever changing.

Social networking is a case in point. Services such as Facebook and Twitter started as a way of keeping in touch with friends,  but it didn't take long for business users to start switching on to what they have  to offer, particularly when it comes communicating with customers and for collaboration between groups.

So, trend identified, developers have been busy adapting their products to suit, especially in the unified communications marketplace.

However, for the corporate world to fully embrace social networking there still needs to be a change in attitude. Not among end users - although acceptance of social networking is far from universal - but quite definitely at the management level.

The knee-jerk reaction tends to be to view Facebook and Twitter et al as "personal" communication tools and, as such, potential threats when it comes to productivity.

Many companies block their use, some allow them and a few have started to embrace the technologies involved, finding that these networks actually enhance productivity rather than decrease it.

Of course the application of social networking in a business context is bound to throw up issues, principally around security and management.  But that's also another opportunity and it shouldn't take long for vendors to come up with a way of addressing such concerns.

This article is written by Alan Stevens and sponsored by Avaya. The opinions reflected in this piece are solely those of Alan Stevens and may not reflect those of Avaya management