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6/19/2012
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IBM Connections, Jive Lead Enterprise Social Software Market

IBM ranks as the enterprise social networking software market share leader for the third year in a row in 2011, says IDC.

a href="http://www.informationweek.com/thebrainyard/article/232500737">Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
Enterprise Social Networks: A Guided Tour
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
For the third year in a row, IBM Connections is at the market share leader for enterprise social software, according to IDC.

The IDC report published this week looks at social software for corporate collaboration. IBM brought in $105.4 million in revenue for its IBM Connections product line, achieving a market share of 13.7%, according to IDC. Jive Software brought in $65.3 million for enterprise social networking, for an 8.5% market share, IDC said.

"Enterprise social software adoption has accelerated significantly across almost all industry verticals and is becoming a critical decision support and worker productivity tool," the IDC analysts wrote. "Many companies are building and implementing an overall social business strategy, and enterprise social software is a critical component of that strategy." Almost all vendors experienced double-digit growth, with the top two, IBM and Jive, enjoying growth of 75.1% and 72.8%, respectively. The fastest growing vendor in the top 20 was Yammer, with a growth rate of 132.3%.

Yammer is growing from a smaller base, reaching $22.3 million in revenue in 2011, according to IDC. It ranked #8 on IDC's list, behind Communispace, Telligent, Socialtext, Mzinga, and Lithium.

In an email, IDC analyst Michael Fauscette said part of the equation for IBM is its international presence and the appeal of IBM Connections to multinational companies. Jive is a closer competitor to IBM in the U.S. market, but IBM still dominates, he said.

The narrative of the report credits IBM's Collaboration Solutions Group with placing a clear emphasis on IBM Connections, with further improvements to come in the "Connections Next" or Connections 4.0 release expected in the second half of the year. In addition to enticing Lotus Notes customers to adopt Connections, IBM will introduce compatibility features like making Connections activity streams visible in the Notes client. IBM will also enhance the environment by taking advantage of the OpenSocial standard for embedding application experiences in the social stream.

Meanwhile, Jive Software had even stronger growth in 2011 than it did in 2010, increasing its market share from 6.9% to 8.5%, according to IDC. "Since 2010, Jive has been consistently adding new features and functions to complement existing solutions, from the basic API level right up to the user experience," the analysts wrote. "Expanding the ISV ecosystem through the Jive Apps Market has been a strong pillar of growth, with the focus continuing through 2012 with the launch of Jive App Experiences, to integrate applications into business workflow processes."

In May, Jive delivered a next generation version of its platform in the cloud version of its product. The new App Experiences feature, which makes it possible to embed application actions in a social stream, is the first big commercial implementation of some of the newest OpenSocial specifications. Those features will arrive in the on premises version of Jive's software later this year.

[ See our special report: Enterprise 2.0 Boston 2012. ]

Contrary to IDC's findings, IBM has "lost some momentum" with Connections, according to Tony Byrne, founder of The Real Story Group. As part of a presentation on evaluating and selecting social software vendors at E2 (formerly Enterprise 2.0) conference in Boston, Byrne said his impression was IBM had gotten off to a strong start but now the "strategy feels divided and unclear," he said. "From talking with major customers, it seems Connections isn't improving much."

Byrne's is a much smaller analyst firm that consults on behalf of technology buyers, not vendors, and he said his analysis was based on discussions with Connections customers, not market share analysis. Connections is also a complex product, often implemented with other elements of IBM's technology stack such as WebSphere and FileNet to create a complete solution. "I have talked with customers who are happy with the solution, although they're not necessarily happy with what they had to pay for it," he said.

Market share analysis is tricky in this sector, depending heavily on your definition of enterprise social software, Byrne said. For example, IDC would have to exclude SharePoint (which does include some social software features) in order to put IBM Connections at the top of the ranking, he said.

Follow David F. Carr on Twitter @davidfcarr. The BrainYard is @thebyard and facebook.com/thebyard

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