Forrester Wave for Enterprise Social Platforms – my advice, check the scope

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Make of it what you will… Forrester themselves provide this intro:

we found that IBM, Jive, NewsGator, and Telligent led the pack due to breadth and depth of functionality and long-range strategy. Microsoft has added substantial social functionality to its SharePoint platform. Atlassian launched forward, broadening its core wiki offering, while Socialtext executed on its pioneering vision around capabilities like microblogging. Giants Cisco and OpenText are looking to get in on the action by extending their enterprise footprints.

Analyst firms still look like they are trying to get their heads around the social business technology stack and IMHO there are significant omissions and contradictions. For Forrester, my impression is that “Enterprise Social Platforms” serve internal, employee communities – I’m sure this reflects nomenclature of enterprise IT. However, if an organisation is evaluating social business software they should be clear that they’ve understood their own scope, and not those of the analysts or vendors.

CMSWire in their coverage note that Forrester recognise there are other supporting tools, although I’m unclear why Cisco Quad makes the cut (and quite right) but other products from the enterprise microblogging and activity stream space, like Chatter, Socialcast, tibbr and Yammer, don’t get a look in.

Also, listing both Microsoft Sharepoint and Newsgator is confusing. Firstly, why not include other broad portal platform solution or WCMS? Secondly, if Sharepoint is such a strong performer, then why is Newsgator included? Many (actually, probably all) of the other vendors included also integrate with Sharepoint. The vendor landscape and experience in the field strongly points to the need to augment Sharepoint to make it an effective social business tool (see Headshift | Dachis Group’s view on this).

This doesn’t mean that Forrester haven’t done a good of evaluating each individual product (I haven’t seen the detailed report, but Forrester is full of smart people), but based on the list of vendors I’m just cautious about their particular perspective in this case.

BTW If you are interested in the drivers for workforce collaboration software and ROI, you might enjoy this post on Designing Social Workplaces.

UPDATE: The Brainyard provides further commentary on Forrester’s report.

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3 thoughts on “Forrester Wave for Enterprise Social Platforms – my advice, check the scope

  1. If you want to read the full report then visit the Telligent web site. It’s interesting to compare this with the Gartner equivalent from Oct last year “Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace” (available for cheapskates like me from Jive’s web site).Both reports position roughly the same vendors in roughly similar ways (with the notable exception of Microsoft) but inclusion seems to be a little bit random. My sense is that the market emerging but still diverse and fragmented. It’s far from mature and most enterprises would do well to look at software not in the waves or magic quadrants – esp. if you are not a typical Forrester/Gartner customer (i.e. a US-based multinational).

  2. Thanks for the tip, Matt. I’m not sure I’d agree that the market is far from mature – they are some very well established products in the mix – but I do agree that there are quite a few products missing that could be a better fit. However, Socialtext and Confluence (out of the products listed above) are probably worth starting with if you aren’t interested in spinning up Websphere (for Connections) or Sharepoint.

  3. “I’m not sure I’d agree that the market is far from mature – they are some very well established products in the mix – but I do agree that there are quite a few products missing that could be a better fit.”I would agree that there are some very function-rich and well-established products out there but that’s a very different thing from market maturity. In a mature market you’d expect to see a stable set of functionality and the question of ROI becoming less vexed. In comparing products, you can compare apples to apples to a greater extent. You’d also expect to see product commodification and company consolidation. There’s a bit of that starting to happen but it’s not kicked off in earnest yet. ERP, databases and email servers are “mature” (which isn’t to say that these markets aren’t changing).The adjective that best describes the enterprise social platform for me at the moment is “adolescent”. Not quite an infant, not quite an adult. A bit unsure of its identity. Prone to unpredictable behaviour. And spotty.

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