Collaboration Vendors Convene on Info-Tech's Landscape Evaluation

According to an Info-Tech Research Group survey, 75 percent of organizations currently have an enterprise collaboration solution in place and another 15 percent say that they will deploy one in the next 18 months. With social media tools and low price points ramping up activity, the collaboration platform market is more complex than ever before. Info-Tech, in its evaluation of the market, dug deep into seven collaboration platform providers that Info-Tech analyst Tim Hickernell says are the top choices of the bunch.

"We definitely found that the price pressure has been driven down," Hickernell says, "in part thanks to Microsoft, having rolled out Windows SharePoint Services (WSS) as a freebie years ago. He adds that there are a number of really solid on-demand collaboration tools that are pushing down price points across the board. Hickernell makes a distinction between old and new vendors. Older vendors, he notes, built their platforms from a content management perspective; whereas newer vendors have built theirs with collaboration as the pinnacle.

All of the collaboration vendors are embracing Web 2.0-style interfaces and even hints of social networking.
"Social channels had a lot of impact on this," Hickernell says. Integration with content, also, remains a big driver.

Info-Tech Research Group has identified seven vendors worthy of considerations when choosing a collaboration platform:

Drupal: With two percent of the market share, Drupal is an open-source content management provider. Drupal caters heavily to the developer community, but according to Hickernell, is at the forefront of defining the collaboration space.

EMC: In evaluating EMC's CenterStage, Info-Tech found the product to be at a slightly higher price-point than other collaboration platforms. The report states: "A company with complex uses for its collaboration tools will find EMC to be a great fit."

IBM: Big Blue's Quickr 8 product "integrates superbly across IBM's entire communication suite," Hickernell writes. It does a fine job in sitting next to Lotus Notes and Lotus Connections to round out IBM's collaborative capabilities. It's perhaps best suited for 100+ person organizations.

Jive: With Jive Social Business Software (SBS) 4.0, companies are able to collaborate internally and also engage their customers.

Microsoft: Microsoft holds a comfortable 71 percent share of the organizations Info-Tech recently surveyed who were using a collaboration solution. Out of that 71 percent, 45 percent are using Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) and 26 percent are using Windows SharePoint Services (WSS). What's interesting, Hickernell says, is that compared to 3 years ago, the numbers of MOSS versus WSS have completely flipped. Microsoft's strategy has been fully success, Hickernell says, in giving away free software, getting people hooked, and persuading them to pay for the full suite.

Open Text: "We were blown away with what we saw from Open Text and their social media product," Hickernell says, "Any organization that looks at [Open Text] will immediately take to it." Open Text with its social media solution offers a good price point, Hickernell says, and is a "great jack-of-all-trades" tool to provide teams with support.

SocialText: "Socialtext was one of the first companies to bring Web 2.0-type functionality to the enterprise through collaboration tools," Hickernell says. SocialText has enjoyed record growth in the last year, but the warranty may soon wear off, as its social networking type tools are quickly catching on across the market.

Social media influence is visible throughout the landscape evaluation. "The visual change in latching on to web 2.0 and social media-type sites is very evident here," Hickernell says.

Another interesting point is the market's desire to work with the collaboration market's dominant player, Microsoft. They are taking an "if you can beat 'em, join 'em" approach. "Almost everyone is integrating with SharePoint," Hickernell says, "You would think it would just be some of the smaller vendors, but it actually includes the larger vendors." Rather than competing with SharePoint, vendors are offering plug-ins and are positioning themselves as a point of integration. "They are coming out with integrators so they connect and pull information out of SharePoint, and look at SharePoint as a node in federated content," Hickernell explains. "They also enable [users] to push some things into SharePoint, since a lot have deployed SharePoint as a de facto intranet portal."

News relevant to the customer relationship management industry is posted several times a day on destinationCRM.com, in addition to the news section Insight that appears every month in the pages of CRM magazine.

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