London, July 12 : Business firms are failing to value social networking sites' huge potential at present, warns a leading information technology company.
Researchers for Gartner found that huge opportunities for improving the management of large firms exist.
"Businesses which harness how employees use these sites stand to increase savings, productivity and profits," BBC quoted said Gartner researcher Jeffrey Mann, as saying.
He said that the challenge was how to apply this to the corporate world.
A survey by Gartner discovered that social networking sites, instant messaging email, chat and file sharing are attracting significant levels of interest online.
Their work was undertaken across 18 countries and territories between October and December of last year.
It found that 38percent of more than 4,000 PC and mobile phone users connect to sites like MySpace and Facebook via PCs.
Single people and teenagers and more men than women came top in terms of usage.
The survey revealed that in large part they went online for entertainment purposes or to keep up with friends and family.
Mann, Gartner's Vice President of research, said he understood why companies both large and small might be skeptical about believing social networking presents a viable business application.
"If you look at the first reaction from any business when they examine this, it's there is no reason to do this. People are 'throwing sheep' at one another and they are seeing 2who is hot," Mann said.
"But you have to look deeper as to why these people are using these networks. It's to keep up with their friends, to mobilise them, to get involved in everything from politics to cleaning the local park. If you look at those reasons, then there are a lot of business counterparts," he added.