Businesses are not making the most of social networking technologies brought into the spotlight by sites such as Facebook and MySpace, according to analyst firm Gartner.
The business potential of such sites is "largely untapped", Gartner says. It expects the social networking to "become increasingly important to the competitiveness of large enterprises in the future".
Nick Ingelbrecht, research director at Gartner, says "Social networking software holds enormous potential for improving the management of large enterprises.
"However, work in this area is still immature and in the meantime enterprises should be aware of what is happening in the world of consumer social networking and implement appropriate usage policies for employees' use of services such as Facebook and MySpace on company time," he says.
The research also claims that web users don't currently place a high level of importance on social networking sites compared to other mainstream internet applications such as email and search. However, when combined with other broader forms of networking, such as instant messaging, Gartner thinks "there is a significant aggregate level of interest in the social aspects of communication".
Julia Lin, project manager of research data and analytics at Gartner, says "Social networking is arguably as old as humanity, not something new that has been invented for so-called 'digital natives'".