Although few organizations are deploying social software across the entire enterprise, the market is attracting different kinds of vendors, including many specialist vendors that compete with vendors already established in adjacent markets, according to this year's Gartner Research Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace.
Gartner analysts Nikos Drakos, Jeffrey Mann,and Carol Rozwell write in the report that most organizations are still determining the right balance between risk and reward when considering employee access and engagement with external social networking sites, setting up communities to capture informal knowledge, and discovering "freemium" tools, such as Yammer, in their organizations. Ultimately, the report states, buyer choice is increasingly determined by existing relationships and licensing agreements, added value from pre-integration with related offerings, and channel and service partners.
The inclusion criterion for this year's report differs from last year. Gartner has raised the number of reference customers from three to four. Each reference customer must now have at least 5,000 active users. Gartner also raised the total active user threshold from 75,000 to 100,000. As a result of these changes (among other possible reasons, including acquisition or focus change), the following vendors mentioned in last year's assessment were dropped from the report:
- Central Desktop;
- CubeTree (acquired by SuccessFactors);
- FatWire Software;
- Leverage Software;
- Neighborhood America (now known as INgage Networks);
- Tomoye (acquired by NewsGator).
Gartner notes that Leaders are "well-established vendors with widely used social software and collaboration offerings." Leaders, according to the report, have been established through an early recognition of user needs in this market, overall market presence, and success in delivering user-friendly and solution-focused suites with broad capabilities.
- IBM: There is "evidence of very large deployments and flexible deployment options as independent modules, or as a set of services accessible via a browser," the report states. For that reason, among others, the report claims IBM has established an early presence in this market and is continuing to gain market traction.
- Jive: Jive, which has won several large corporate customers, some of which have multimillion-dollar investments in its software and services, is a Leader because of its "mature product, solution focus, vision of bridging internal and external communities, and strong evidence of market acceptance."
- Microsoft: The company's SharePoint Server 2010 has "achieved wide market acceptance as a broad platform for enterprise collaboration, content management, portals, search and social software," the authors write. "Microsoft's platform focus and the presence of a broad and deep ecosystem of developers and system integrators add to its strength, as do third-party software developers that extend SharePoint or use it as a basis for their products."
Vendors in the Challengers quadrant have produced tools that should one day allow them to move into the Leaders quadrant. "They have a strong market presence in general, or strong products, and the market position and resources to become Leaders," the report's authors write. "But they may not have either the same functional breadth, marketing strategy or rate of innovation as those in the Visionaries' quadrant."
Firms listed in the Visionaries quadrant demonstrate a strong understanding of current and future market trends and directions, according to the report. "Their products and product road maps display a penchant for innovation, especially in terms of architecture and lightweight integration," the report states.
- SuccessFactors; and
The Niche Players subset is the most populated quadrant of the report. These companies "provide useful focused technology, understand the changing market dynamics, and are working toward evolving their product capabilities." What holds them back is breadth of functionality. "Many of the smaller vendors may enjoy success relative to their size," the authors write, "but they need to exploit every opportunity to grow and establish their position before their competitive differentiation begins to erode."
- Igloo Software;
- Realcom US;
- Traction Software;
- TWiki; and