Move over Outlook, make way for Twitter and Yammer. The hegemony of email as a business medium is set o be superseded by social networking in the future according to new research from Gartner. The company is predicting that 20 percent of business communication is going to through social networking sites by 2014.

The company said that collaboration was slowly moving to the cloud, and we could expect to see steep growth rates for sales of social networking services - both on-premises and cloud software. Gartner predicted that the percentage of email accounts on cloud services will grow to 10 per cent by year-end 2012, up 7 per cent from 2009.

"In the past, organisations supported collaboration through email and highly structured applications only," said Monica Basso, research vice president at Gartner. Speaking at the company's Gartner Symposium/ITxpo 2010, she said "Today, social paradigms are converging with email, instant messaging (IM) and presence, creating new collaboration styles. However, a truly collaborative, effective and efficient workplace will not arise until organisations make these capabilities widely available and users become more comfortable with them. Technology is only an enabler; culture is a must for success.

"The rigid distinction between email and social networks will erode," Basso said. "Email will take on many social attributes, such as contact brokering, while social networks will develop richer email capabilities."