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Top 4 Tech Trends for 2011

Stocks in this article: AAPL SNDK MSFT IBM HPQ

Social Media Goes Corporate

Social networking is no longer just for keeping up with friends and business contacts. As more corporations continue to adopt Facebook and Twitter-like tools to try and boost and enhance productivity, 2011 will become the year in which social service providers start to make big bucks for their services.

"We think that this is the year when companies really start to monetize social media," said Deloitte's Openshaw. "We're seeing a lot of movement in that area."

Tech heavyweights tapping this trend include Microsoft, whose Sharepoint is widely used for sharing corporate data, and cloud specialist (CRM), which has said that its Chatter social networking technology -- used by about 60,000 customers -- accounts for almost three-quarters of the company's total paying customer base. CEO Marc Benioff described Chatter as the largest enterprise social network in place today during the conference call to discuss the company's recent third-quarter results. New customers for Chatter include Amazon, Motorola (MOT) and Bank of America (BAC).

Even Cisco's hitting the trend. Its Quad offering -- a Web-based collaboration platform that supports video sharing, Web chatting, blogging and document-sharing -- has been in beta testing for more than a year. (Quad should hit the market sometime late next year.)

"This year, I think that you're going to see major players in services moving to that collaboration model," said Openshaw. "Let's say, for example, there's a service issue on a printer -- the normal way to solve it is to call the people that sold you the printer but what if there were crowd-sourcing? You're sharing that information in an open environment."

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