The market for social software is expansive with hundreds of vendors with myriad functionalities. In order to make sense of the heterogeneous landscape, Gartner Research has narrowed its focus for this fall's Social Software Magic Quadrant to include only those proficient at social tools for the workplace. Analysts Nikos Drakos, Carol Rozwell, Anthony Bradley, and Jeffrey Mann all contributed to the report and write that social software buyers seem to be evaluating products that will be used internally differently than those aimed at external usage. Social software supporting external communities for partners and customers will be evaluated by Gartner at a later date.
Established vendors need to beef up their offerings, whereas, specialty vendors need to invigorate their reputations. In their evaluation of the market in general, the analysts state that the space has seen moderate growth; however functionality requirements are still undecided. Despite the burgeoning level of awareness of the value of social software among enterprises, Gartner notes that cultural misalignment and risk remain roadblocks to adoption. The report states: "Many organizations are finding it hard to align existing practices, and more generally their organizational culture, with the end0-user empowerment promised by social software environments."
Given the restructure of the 2009 Magic Quadrant, Gartner dropped the following vendors from contention:
- Lithium Technologies
- Six Apart
- Small World Labs
Gartner notes that leaders are well-established vendors with solid customer bases. The report says, "Their leadership is being established through an early recognition of user needs in this market, their overall market presence, and their success in delivering user-friendly and solution-focused suites with broad capabilities." These vendors are continually investing in social support and are seeing consistent traction.
- IBM: "IBM is a leader by virtue of being ahead of the market with a strong market presence," the analysts write. IBM is not only an established technology vendor, but the report points out that IBM Lotus Connections 2.5 offers a comprehensive social software suite and that the company offers many flexible deployment options. One caution is that IBM could stand to improve its usability.
- Jive Software: The analysts point to Jive's "mature product, solution focus, vision of bridging internal and external communities and strong evidence of market acceptance" as reasons for its leadership in the market. Gartner also states that there has been positive feedback surrounding the company's Social Business Software. The only caution is that Jive needs to be careful with its growth strategy as it establishes its footing as an enterprise vendor.
- Microsoft: Microsoft has for years used SharePoint to deliver "good enough" social capabilities to organizations, Gartner writes. Recently Microsoft has invested more in social networking with the introduction of SharePoint's My Sites functionality. The vendor also allows for integration between its Office tools and other business applications such as unified communications, and Web based meetings. Gartner cautions that there are functional gaps in the version of SharePoint 2007 including social tagging and social search. However, these will likely be addressed in the 2010 version of SharePoint.
Players in this quadrant have the potential to move into Leader territory, but have not done so either due to limited functionality, or slower innovation rates. The report states, though, that Challenges have an established presence, credibility and viability.
- Atlassian: Gartner lauds its strong wiki capability and global presence but cautions against its limited social networking and blogging functionality.
- Open Text: With its recent acquisition of Vignette, Open Text has been able to fuse social elements into its enterprise content management suite. Gartner lauds the company's ECM suite for its strong track record of deployments in large enterprises. The addition of social software such as profiles, blogs, tagging, social serarch and alerting, increases Open Text's breadth. They are new, however, and still have some weaknesses in places like social analytics, bookmarking, and social ratings.
Gartner points out that Visionaries have a strong understanding of the market and trends, such as the importance of flexible and transparent collaborative environments. While the Visionaries are more limited in scope, their product road maps often relay great innovation. The visionaries tend to have a penchant toward open source.
- blueKiwi Software
- Leverage Software
The majority of the vendors in this category are limited in breadth or lack innovative growth strategies. For the smaller vendors, Gartner notes, growth will be essential to be competitive. "As the social software market continues to mature, pockets of specialization can solidify," the analysts write. "Therefore, a viable alternative strategy for a minority of smaller vendors is to focus on niche markets serving specific verticals or sporting specific activities."
- Central Desktop*
- Neighborhood America*
- PBworks (the company has since 2008 changed its name from PBwiki)
- Traction Software
*denotes a new vendor to the 2009 Magic Quadrant
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