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8/26/2011
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Forrester Names 4 Leading Enterprise Social Platforms

Check out the early leaders in the race for best internal social communication tools.

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Forrester Research named IBM, Jive Software, Telligent, and NewsGator as the leaders in its first ranking of enterprise social software platforms.

Jive Software, which this week filed for an initial public offering, got the highest overall score. However, the lead author, Forrester analyst Rob Koplowitz, said it's not a straight ranking but called it a "measurement of breadth of capabilities." The catch is that features considered essential to one enterprise can be irrelevant to another, he said.

On the other hand, of the 26 capabilities ranked, Jive got a top score on some that are important to many organizations, such as security and cross-platform support, as well as core functionality.

"To me, the story here is IBM, not Jive," Koplowitz said. IBM Connections ranked high across the board and beats Jive in some areas, such as localization into many languages.

"In this type of emerging market, where we're just starting to see leaders emerge, a company like IBM you might assume would be a laggard," Koplowitz said. Big enterprise software vendors often fall behind because while they are busy polishing their products and marketing plans, startup competitors have put out a dozen new releases, he said. "IBM deserves kudus for just how aggressively they've brought this product to market--they brought it out early, they continue to invest very heavily in it, and they've been very entrepreneurial."

The product was originally branded Lotus Connections, which probably hobbled it because some potential customers who weren't Lotus shops crossed it off the list. IBM has now made it clearer that, although it can offer integration with products from Lotus and Cognos and other IBM brands, its enterprise social software platform stands on its own.

This report specifically looked at social media environments supporting a company's internal users and other authenticated users such as business partners. Jive and Telligent offer an extra dimension because their platforms actually encompass both internal and external social media--both Jive and Telligent started out supporting customer communities and discussion forums, adding applications for internal enterprise collaboration later.

Koplowitz said his analysis gave some weight, but not a lot, to the idea that a social platform that works both internally and externally might be better overall. In principle, one advantage might be that sales leads or crowdsourced product ideas from the outside would flow more smoothly into a discussion inside the company, he said, "but that's still a little bit aspirational for most companies." Instead, where this weighs as an advantage for those companies is primarily in awareness.

"I get a lot of inquiries from people saying, we own Jive, or we own Telligent, and we have it deployed into a marketing community, so why wouldn't I want to do that internally as well," Koplowitz said.

Telligent is not as well known as some other competitors in the space, and Koplowitz said he didn't expect it to emerge as one of the leaders until he added up all the scores. "Telligent is quite a bit smaller than IBM and a little bit smaller than Jive, but they've done a good job of taking the investment they've made in the external platform to make it relevant in the internal. An example is their analytics, which is something that is essential in the external environment and is an emerging requirement in internal environments," he said.

Fourth among the leaders is NewsGator, a small company that has made its way to the top by standing on the shoulders of Microsoft SharePoint. "Everything SharePoint does is complemented by NewsGator," Koplowitz said. Running on as an application on top of SharePoint, NewsGator takes advantage of SharePoint features like document management and wikis but then fills in the gaps to turn SharePoint into a full-featured social environment. For example, NewsGator takes the basic notifications feature in SharePoint and fleshes it out into an activity stream where users see messages from their friends and contacts.

"This is a partner play, so that comes with its own challenges," Koplowitz said. If Microsoft should get more aggressive about developing SharePoint into a self-sufficient social platform, NewsGator could have more trouble staying ahead of the game.

The Forrester Wave report also covered Atlassian, Microsoft, Socialtext, Cisco (Cisco Quad), and OpenText (Social Workspace), but excluded a few likely suspects such as Yammer and Socialcast (recently acquired by VMware) as "focused products" rather than broad platforms.

Attend Enterprise 2.0 Santa Clara, Nov. 14-17, 2011, and learn how to drive business value with collaboration, with an emphasis on how real customers are using social software to enable more productive workforces and to be more responsive and engaged with customers and business partners. Register today and save 30% off conference passes, or get a free expo pass with priority code CPHCES02. Find out more and register.

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Sergei Dolukhanov
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Sergei Dolukhanov,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/29/2011 | 9:31:43 PM
re: Forrester Names 4 Leading Enterprise Social Platforms
As far as internal collaboration tools are concerned, these guys are all great. But what about merging internal company data and tying it to external social data and putting the analytics on top of all of it? To me, the intersection of internal and external data data streams along with deep analytics and discovery of underlying motivations is the next level. The ability to understand why people say what they say online, and how it can be tied to your existing business processes to increase your companies revenue.

Sort of like a "bloomberg" for marketing and sales teams, a one-stop portal for navigating through and analyzing the communications heartbeat of an enterprise.

Keep an eye out for @EvoApp; this is the space we are excited for.

Great post, David.

- Sergei
@sdolukhanov (twitter)

Director of Marketing, EvoApp
ColinP
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ColinP,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/29/2011 | 5:07:12 PM
re: Forrester Names 4 Leading Enterprise Social Platforms
There is another up-start solution in the social business/social enterprise collaboration space that is worth consideration: Unlike many others, it is completely built on SharePoint 2010, FAST and Lync (Presence, IM, VOIP). It also provides additional features including micro-blogging, App Store, People Search, Office Web Apps, Wall functionality, and very tight integration into MS Office, Outlook, Exchange. Blue Rooster out of Seattle has quietly launched a platform called 'Sepulveda' (named for the longest road in LA tying communities together) to leverage the best of MS products while providing the Social Media features that Enterprises are looking for without additional expensive yearly subscription costs. Their solution is bringing some pretty cool things to-bear that can affordably help a lot of companies along the way. www.bluerooster.com
Deb Donston-Miller
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Deb Donston-Miller,
User Rank: Apprentice
8/27/2011 | 12:45:07 PM
re: Forrester Names 4 Leading Enterprise Social Platforms
It's great to have this kind of shortlist for enterprise IT evaluators. It seems like this market will be a bit of a moving target. I wonder if the new capabilities Yammer announced recently--Salesforce.com integration and Yammer Connect--change the landscape as Forrester has described it in the report.

Deb Donston-Miller
Contributing Editor, The BrainYard
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