Around a fifth of companies are expecting to replace their use of email with social networking communications by 2014, according to a new report from Gartner.
The analyst firm said that the shift has been prompted by the increased availability of social networking services, as well as changes to working styles.
Gartner explained that, while this represents a change in the use of communications, it will bring many benefits.
"In the past, organisations supported collaboration through email and highly structured applications only," said Monica Basso, a research vice president at Gartner.
"Today, social paradigms are converging with email, instant messaging and presence creating new collaboration styles.
However, Basso argued that "a truly collaborative, effective and efficient workplace" will not become the norm until these capabilities are made widely available and users become more comfortable with them.
"Technology is only an enabler; culture is a must for success," she added.
The emergence of a new generation of workers used to communicating through social media will also increase adoption, according to Basso.
"The rigid distinction between email and social networks will erode," she said. "Email will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer email capabilities."
Gartner said that vendors including IBM and Microsoft will increasingly add hooks to elements like contacts, calendars and tasks that can be shared across the mediums.
Basso added that improved communications and collaboration are critical to the success of any business, and that all companies should invest in these areas, despite any fears about the economy.
"Even in an economic downturn, innovation is a must for any organisation to prepare for recovery and further change. The reality is that mobile collaboration will increase for all categories of workers, and organisations can either take the lead or be led by their users," she said.
"The most progressive organisations won't be afraid to explore the innovative communications and collaboration models enabled by new devices and social services, and will allow their employees to generate innovative ideas by experimentation."
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