Content management software vendors are pondering social networking features and are expected to collaborate or acquire so-called white label networks to make their enterprise apps more social.
That's one of the takeaways from Jeremiah Owyang, an analyst at Forrester.
Owyang's working theory is that the big enterprise content management software (CMS) vendors--EMC's Documentum, Interwoven, Vignette, Stellent etc--are leaving money on the table by not offering social networking features. Meanwhile, there are more than 90 companies offering white label social networking infrastructure branded as something else (see Jeremy's roster of players). At some point these two categories of vendors will meet:
With the demand and buzz for social network features, or community offerings, these established CMS/Portal vendors recognize the demand, and see opportunity dollars falling through the cracks. I've started conversations with several of the big players to gauge where they are headed. Of course, the conversations don't end up on this blog (unless they give me permission, or publish first) but it's quite obvious where things are headed.
In other words, social networking will become a generic enterprise feature at some point. These CMS players can develop their own community suites (and hire staff that understands the social types), acquire white label networks or just hang back.
Of those options door No. 2 sounds like the most logical outcome.
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However, it's early in this effort and it's unclear how it will play out. For instance, Owyang notes that the CMS vendors may not be able to combine social features with their legacy apps.
I'd add another: It's unclear whether workers will actually use enterprise social networking features. Clearly, these CMS meets social networking systems won't be as cool as Facebook and it's highly likely the meld of legacy apps will create a clunky experience. Meanwhile, participation isn't guaranteed. If folks don't use these apps there's no community. Participation has thrown a monkey wrench into many great enterprise software waves--just ask CIOs about all those dormant knowledge management systems installed a few years ago.