Hypatia Research report evaluated product breadth and maturity, customer base, and strategic consulting and community planning services.
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A report on social and community software gave top marks to KickApps, ahead of some better known names such as Jive Software and Lithium Technologies.
Hypatia Research said its report, "Benchmarking Social Community Platform Investments, & ROI," included a survey of 306 executives and social media team members. The report discusses strategy for social media success, and how to measure that success, as well as technology choices.
The vendor ranking was based on product breadth and maturity, as well as the vendor's roadmap for future improvements, ability to execute on its plans, and number of customers. In addition to product capabilities, Hypatia looked at services offered by each vendor, particularly those that extend beyond technical support to strategic consulting and community planning.
The top social software firms in Hypatia's ranking were:
-- Ingage Networks
-- Bazaarvoice and Telligent (tied for third place)
-- Lithium and Jive Software (tied for fifth place)
KickApps offers a software-as-a-service social publishing product that can be used to build communities, encourage users to upload and curate content, and share that content in the form of widgets that can be embedded in websites or Facebook pages. Prominent customers include NBC Universal, the New York Giants, and Gore-Tex.
KickApps was acquired in January by KIT digital, which wants to add more social features to its video management platform. Anthony Iaffaldano of KickApps, who has now taken the title of VP of marketing for the Americas at KIT, said the KIT technology will further enhance KickApps' emphasis on multimedia content.
"Up until now, our video capabilities were focused squarely on user-generated content," he said. Because KIT's business is focused on broadband distribution of video, KickApps can develop into a better tool for corporate and broadcast media distribution of video content as well, he said.
Ingage started out as a provider of community engagement software for the government sector, which still accounts for 40% of its business, according to Hypatia, but Ingage has also picked up such commercial customers as CBS, Adidas, and Omni Hotels.
A full copy of the Hypatia social software ROI report is available for download from the Ingage website.
Hypatia used a definition of social software that emphasized consumer engagement through Web communities, whether on a company's own website or a social site such as Facebook. The report looked at software platforms that had a range of capabilities for customer service and support, product innovation and idea generation, branding and marketing, and customer analysis, profiling, and segmentation. Social-style collaboration within the enterprise was not part of the evaluation.
Even within that definition, Hypatia's ranking differs significantly from those of some other analyst reports. For example, the Gartner Magic Quadrant for external social software ranks Jive Software and Lithium as the leaders, with KickApps and Telligent categorized as visionaries and Ingage considered a niche player.
Iaffaldano said the Gartner ranking, which implies less faith in product maturity and ability to execute for KickApps, probably reflects its status as a startup, founded in 2006. With the acquisition by KIT, KickApps is now part of a global company that ought to be able to gain credibility as an enterprise technology provider, he said.
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