Collaboration Software Vendors Come Together on Forrester Wave

Today's enterprise collaboration software market truly is like a sandbox. Key players are arriving from different corners of the playground, all bringing slightly different tools and toys, but with the same intention in mind. In the Q3 2009 report "Forrester Wave: Collaboration Platforms" Forrester Research analyst Rob Koplowitz writes that although collaboration software is nothing new, there appears to be a new wave of vendors looking to play in the sandbox.

According to Koplowitz, collaboration platform vendors typically sprout from one of four areas:

  1. Information and knowledge management providers focused on the traditional ideas of information sharing;
  2. Traditional collaboration vendors that are now realizing the importance of integrating social capabilities into their offerings;
  3. Many new and highly relevant vendors are coming to the market from a social networking perspective -- such as microblogging, activity streams, and business social networks; and
  4. Traditional content management vendors that continue to extend into collaboration, building out social capabilities as well. 

The Leaders on the 2009 Wave for Collaboration Platforms were cited for a notable breadth of functionality, yet having a wide variety of tools isn't the only necessary attribute for inclusion in the Wave. Forrester outlines the following requirements:

  • Collaborative workspace capabilities
  • Basic content management functionality
  • Customization and personalization of workspaces 
  • Security and authentication control
  • A development environment for building custom collaboration applications
  • More than 25 reference customers
  • An installed base of 1 million users or more

Leaders

  • Microsoft: The mega-vendor's integrated suite approach packs a lot of functionality into SharePoint, the report states. Koplowitz writes that while the primary initial use case for SharePoint is often document workspace functionality, the suite approach generally leads to broader adoption of functionality in areas such as search, portal, an application development platform, business intelligence, and basic content management. At this point, Microsoft only offers basic social tooling, but Forrester states that is likely to change in the version due out in 2010.
  • IBM: "IBM Lotus Connections marked an early entry into enterprise social tools, and that has helped keep the IBM Lotus offering at the head of the pack in functionality," Koplowitz writes. "IBM's modular approach will allow it to continue to introduce new functionality aggressively."
  • Novell: The company's Feb. 2008 acquisition of SiteScape brought the company beyond email and calendaring -- its core competencies -- and more into the collaboration space. Novell subsequently rebranded SiteScape as Novell Teaming. Forrester notes that the latest release of Teaming adds solid social tools to "very strong capabilities for workspaces and collaborative application development, particularly in the area of workflow."

Strong Performers

  • MindTouch: The only open-source vendor to make the list, MindTouch is praised for a strong offering and a vibrant community. 
  • Open Text: Koplowitz writes that Open Text has been established in the collaborative platform market for a long time, but it recently introduced Open Text Social Media. "Social Media offering can be tightly integrated with the back-end ECM capabilities to provide end-to-end content and collaboration functionality," the analyst writes, "Open Text Social Media should be on the evaluation radar screen of Open Text ECM shops."
  • Atlassian: The vendor's Confluence product is viewed mostly as a productivity wiki, geared toward technology departments. However, the product is highly extensible with integrations into Microsoft SharePoint and Lotus Connections.
  • Jive Software: Jive brings a strong community aspect to the vendor pool. The report states: "Jive is one of several vendors in this evaluation that warrants strong consideration when social tool sets are top of mind and traditional document- or email-based collaboration is secondary."
  • Socialtext: Perhaps best known as bringing Twitter-like status functionality to the enterprise, Socialtext began as a wiki company. Mostly focused on innovative social functionality, Socialtext provides integration with Lotus Connections and Microsoft SharePoint.
  • Traction Software: The company has been around for a decade and is highly recognized in industries such as government and pharma. Forrester lauds Traction for bringing blogs and wikis to the enterprise.

Contenders

  • Central Desktop: The pure software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution lacks some enterprise capabilities but is easy to deploy without a lot of IT support.
  • Cisco Systems' WebEx: "Cisco WebEx will be the right answer for some [users] now, [and] more later," Koplowitz writes. The WebEx product has played in the real-time collaboration space and Koplowitz says he expects the vendor will continue to, thanks to its collaborative workspace proposition. "Look to Cisco WebEx to build on this early effort by leveraging its SaaS delivery model to aggressively introduce new functionality," he writes.

With an eye toward 2010, Koplowitz also identifies two vendors he considers possible arrivals on next year's Wave -- both of which were too new to have garnered the appropriate level of adoption during the 2009 evaluation period:

  • EMC Documentum, with its existing eRoom product; and
  • Oracle, with Oracle Beehive.

Koplowitz also notes that Google continues to invest in collaborative functionality that will one day make it a relevant collaborative platform vendor. Ironically, it may be the search giant's next product launch — Google Wave — that earns it a spot on the Forrester product of the same name.

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. You may leave a public comment regarding this article by clicking on "Comments" at the top; to contact the editors, please email editor@destinationCRM.com.

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