If you think email overload is bad, just wait until employees are hit with "activity streams" that combine status updates from various corporate systems and social networks into a single feed.

"Activity streams have been around a while as a concept but are getting a bump in interest," noted Gartner analyst Craig Roth in a blog post last month. "IBM talked them up at Lotusphere 2011. Microsoft added an ActivityManager in SharePoint 2010." One vendor, SocialCast , views an activity stream as a corporate "central nervous system" that enhances collaboration .

But Roth said he envisions an overwhelming series of updates from customer relationship management systems ("Jim just hit his sales quota"), content management systems ("Presentation AugConfv2.pptx was added"), social networks ("Jackie commented on Susan's photo"), and project planning systems ("Task 'Get buy-in from VPs' is now 2 days overdue").

"The resulting deluge of status updates may give activity streams a bad name," Roth said. He urged vendors to include alerts, filters and recommendation engines so end users can determine what merits their attention.

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