Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

Summary: Social software platforms, including services such as Facebook and Twitter, have become one of the primary channels for communication amongst consumers this year, even eclipsing e-mail in some parts of the developed world.The same however, can’t quite be said yet for the workplace. While the adoption numbers for social applications are still impressive in business (about half of all large organizations), actual adoption and use is lagging significantly behind the non-business world as organizations take the time to assess a range of issues with enterprise social computing, including appropriateness, security, control, management methods, and roll-out strategies.The choices of social tools these days can be daunting and are only increasing rapidly, with new entries appearing weekly and existing ones being upgraded often. What’s increasingly needed is a detailed look at what’s currently available in business-class social software and how it sizes up, which we’ll try to do in high-level form here.

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TOPICS: Enterprise 2.0
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Social software platforms, including services such as Facebook and Twitter, have become one of the primary channels for communication amongst consumers this year, even eclipsing e-mail in some parts of the developed world.

It was companies that either open sourced eventually or took open source and then made it enterprise class that often scored the best.The same however, can't quite be said yet for the workplace. While the adoption numbers for social applications are still impressive in business (about half of all large organizations), actual adoption and use is lagging significantly behind the non-business world as organizations take the time to assess a range of issues with enterprise social computing, including appropriateness, security, control, management methods, and roll-out strategies.

However, given the widespread interest and popularity in social tools these days, it's becoming a pretty safe bet that you'll be seeing them in some form on a workplace intranet near you. The question is in what form? The choices of social tools these days can be daunting and are only increasing rapidly, with new entries appearing weekly and existing ones being upgraded often. What's increasingly needed is a detailed look at what's currently available in business-class social software and how it sizes up, which we'll try to do in high-level form here.

As we'll see, since last year's marketplace map, there has been a veritable explosion in social applications that are intended for use in business settings, both internally or externally. These offerings have a surprisingly wide range of features and so in this post I will explore one of the broadest and most important categories of business social software, Enterprise 2.0, in detail. I've also included a pretty comprehensive map of the marketplace for 2009 as defined by the products that are available today (or are highly anticipated and soon to be released, such as Google Wave.)

Enterprise 2.0 software: Choice abounds

A wide range of software providers now proclaim that they make Enterprise 2.0 tools, or have adapted/extended what they make today in order to address this space in some way. This includes the full gamut of open source projects, commercial vendors, startups, and established Web firms such as Google.

In fact, during the course of the survey work, it sometimes seemed like every company making business-oriented collaboration and communication tools is now offering Enterprise 2.0 capabilities in some form. Overall this is a good sign for customers (because supply is most likely greater than demand) and though all new markets tend to shake out, we are no longer in early days with social software. This means that the majority of these products will likely be around for the medium to long-term. It also means that there is probably something available that will fit your specific choice of features, price, technology needs, standards support, and other requirements.

Map of the 2009 Enterprise 2.0 Marketplace: Social Software Directory
Click To View In Detail

The visual above can be clicked to view the gallery containing the full list of Enterprise 2.0-capable applications assessed in this survey.

There are over 70 major products on this list -- many of them entire software platforms in their own right -- with a wide range of Web 2.0 capabilities including blogs, wikis, forums, community, social networks, and social messaging. Every attempt was made to be inclusive while still adhering to the spirit of "emergent, freeform, social collaboration" tools. Also, a product had to be compelling and capable in order to appear on this list at all; all of the offerings that made the cut are solid products in my opinion. Literally hundreds of candidates did not make the cut.

Further Reading: The enterprise microblogging marketplace for mid-2009.

So, for example, a simple but popular microblogging tool like Yammer appears on the list along with the widely used, feature-laden Microsoft SharePoint suite. It's important to note that these are very different applications in terms of scale and purpose. So though they might even be used side-by-side in some organizations, a smart enterprise social computing strategy will spend time selecting the right tools for the job depending on exactly what's needed by the business. In other words, these applications aren't all interchangeable, but form a general class of applications that can improve collaboration, knowledge management, expertise location, leverage of corporate data, and so on.

Sizing up today's Enterprise 2.0 marketplace

In general, here is what was found as we looked at each of these applications and tried to put them into the assessment framework:

  1. The Enterprise 2.0 products we looked at were dominated by their 1) traditional enterprise capabilities, 2) open source/online roots, or 3) managed to be a compelling mix of both. The Enterprise 2.0 marketplace map is an attempt to put them into one of these three categories, though this was sometimes be difficult to do. Readers should take this categorization with a grain of salt, since the products themselves often evolve and change rapidly. Even so, this gives a good, high-level sense of where they lie in terms of their overall potential. In my experience, the most successful Enterprise 2.0 efforts (though certainly not all), tend to use software platforms nearer the "sweet spot" in green in the upper right of the visual. That is, these are social platforms that have figured out how to comply with needs of enterprises in terms of governance, security, single-sign, portal support, standards, etc. while reconciling this successfully with essential Enterprise 2.0 capabilities such as being social, freeform, Web-oriented, and so on.
  2. Most large ECM/DMS platforms now offer Enterprise 2.0 capabilities in some form. Magnolia, Ektron, Sitecore, FatWire, Exo and other traditional enterprise apps in this list now have some combination of blogs, wikis, tagging, social interaction, and other components of Enterprise 2.0. Note that this most certainly not make them automatically a good Enterprise 2.0 platform, and buyers should examine Enterprise 2.0 solutions from traditional vendors with care to ensure they're getting what they need. In some cases, some of the additions of Web 2.0 features to traditional offerings were clearly window dressing, while others seemed quite capable. Remember that less is often more with Enterprise 2.0, so definitely evaluate entries in the blue section of the map with care and a close eye towards FLATNESSES.
  3. More startup products made it into the Enterprise 2.0 sweet spot than enterprise products. This generally reflects that most of these applications were designed from the ground up and/or had little legacy baggage than larger software vendors, the latter which have to reconcile their offerings with the software their customers already have and which may overlap/conflict. There are also relatively few truly stand-out Enterprise 2.0 products overall on the mapo, which I might also observe seem to almost depressingly devolve into the standard feature-itis, complexity, heavyweight structure, and difficulty-of-use of traditional enterprise products. Web 2.0 applications tend to work so well precisely because they are simple, less structured, and easy to use. I would also note that enterprise products don't have to compete for users on a daily basis and consequently seem to lose some of their edge when they don't have open source/SaaS versions of their product.
  4. Pure consumer and open source products often didn't score high (towards the upper right) because of lack of enterprise-class features. This is not much of a surprise given that Enterprise 2.0 has its roots in Web 2.0. In fact, it was companies that either open sourced eventually (SocialText) or took open source and then made it enterprise class (Twiki and Acquia Drupal, for example), that often scored the best.
  5. There is still open space in the marketplace for compelling new Enterprise 2.0 products. The Enterprise 2.0 marketplace map displays a marked bell curve, with fewer products in the top end and bottom end of the scoring. While some products are extremely good in various areas, with a handful quite strong across the board, it also highlights opportunities for new entrants. New offerings that can address the requirements of businesses while offering the power that social business tools can provide if they are designed to focus on the value equation, particularly high leverage, ease-of-use, effective and engaging architectures of participation.
  6. You'll need more than primary interaction tools to succeed with Enterprise 2.0. Good federated search, well designed portals, community management tools, social analytics, security tools, integration with existing IT systems, and more are all ultimately needed for social software to flourish inside of an organization. The tools on this list are only for engaging in Web 2.0-style collaboration directly, they are not the support tools, which you'll also need.
  7. Don't forget: The tools come later when it comes to social business. Although good, capable tools help tremendously with being successful in your Enterprise 2.0 endeavors, starting with the tools is almost always a bad idea. This list should help you understand what's out there in conjunction with a social computing strategy that, in general, identifies the business goals, objectives, and requirements first and then determines the most appropriate tools.

The scoring methodology used for the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace map was based on a survey of the product literature and use of the product (if possible, which wasn't in about half the cases). Any omissions or errors are mine alone. I will be accepting a limited number of new submissions over the next few days, which you can submit via e-mail here and which I'll update here. Hopefully this will give us as complete a picture as possible of the Enterprise 2.0 options currently available to businesses today and a useful reference for their research.

Be sure to also read: Ten leading platforms for creating online communities.

What do you look for in Enterprise 2.0 software in terms of features and requirements? Please share them in Talkback below.

Topic: Enterprise 2.0

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16 comments
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  • Nice job, Dion!

    It might be interesting to create a follow-on study of business benefits realized by this roundup of tools.

    A single innocuous tool that doesn't rate highly according to your scoring methodology could have delivered a tremendous cost-savings or revenue windfall for a company-- which is ultimately the only metric that matters.

    I've been sitting on a few case studies that exemplify these business gains. One of which was a clever integration of GroupSwim with SFDC. Both of which that didn't make your chart.

    Fantastic chart of the landscape though. Bravo!
    susan.scrupski
  • RE: Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

    some of these are also relevant when considering linked data needs inside the enterprise as well
    glemak-23039310794606209585592085858249
  • RE: Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

    Hello Dion

    I am bit confused that Liferay is not considered here. Liferay Social office is still in beta, however, most of the functionality by social office is already provided by Liferay 5.2 version. The only difference is that social office bundles it well. So what i'd like to know is: if liferay was not considered at all ? Or it was considered but did not make it in the map due to certain limitations. In that case, i am interested in knowing those limitations.

    -Rashmi
    rashmitambe
    • RE: Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

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  • RE: Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

    Thanks Don for pulling together a unified snapshot. Would like to know where CubeTree stands as well? Seemed like a possible play in the E2.0 Sweet Spot realm.
    jvstewart3
  • RE: Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

    Problem across the map is that most are not really platforms with enough flexibility of implementation. scope of innovation on top of out of box capabilities is limited.
    None of them have a effective framework for organizing content and very few integrate the inside-outside paradigm.
    All these things affect the adoption and ultimate success of any E2 implementation irrespective of the product. So as far as the market is concerned there is still enough scope for new ideas and thus startups.

    Disclaimer: I am founder of one such startup www.kreeo.com
    anandsumeet
  • RE: Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

    Great resource and I love the diagram. I think that a little more due diligence on the fact checking should be in order. For example, there is reference here that socialtext was recently open sourced. There is such a project on sourceforge but there are, as of the time of this writing, no files available for download or CVS.
    gengstrand
  • RE: Assessing the Enterprise 2.0 marketplace in 2009: Robust and crowded

    This is a creative and useful way to break down the space
    in particular because it provides an answer to the problem:

    As crowded as the market has become, it's boundaries are
    ever clearer. The sweet spot identifies the platforms that
    one would want to choose if they are looking for a
    strategic enterprise 2.0 deployment.

    Jordan Frank
    www.tractionsoftware.com
    jordanfrank
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  • Knowledge Plaza and the 09 marketplace

    Hi Dion,

    I hope you include us in a revisited 2009 map and/or
    on a 2010 map.

    In 2009 we've been working on our enterprise edition
    (on premise) of Knowledge Plaza, with accounts such as
    Pfizer, Euranova, etc.

    A couple of months ago we launched the private beta of
    a saas version of KP for professionals and
    SMEs...we're about to go public anytime soon.

    By the way, totally agree with nr. 7, actually it
    should be number 1.

    Cheers,

    Elena Benito @knowledgeplaza
    elenabrz
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