Teamware: And the Winner Is ...

The teamware market is poised for growth as organizations increasingly realize the benefit of creating virtual workspaces for project teams, communities, and processes. Competition in this market has been fierce and will continue unabated.
Written by Matt Cain, Contributor

The teamware market is poised for growth as organizations increasingly realize the benefit of creating virtual workspaces for project teams, communities, and processes. Competition in this market has been fierce and will continue unabated. This Delta discloses the findings from an in-depth comparison of the six leading teamware tools.

META Trend: Collaboration is emerging as a key enabler for lowering process coordination costs and gaining competitive differential. Through 2004, collaboration vendors will supply components (e.g., instant messaging, teamware, Web conferencing) that can be contextually embedded within business applications and enterprise portals. By 2007, XML and Web service standards will enable "contextual collaboration" strategies that span customers, employees, and partners.

The Teamware METAspectrumSM, an in-depth comparison of teamware tools, reflects a market in transition to maturity and possible extinction (see Figure 1). From a functional perspective, with the exception of Groove, there were no overwhelmingly significant differences between the vendors. The results show IBM and Microsoft, which had been laggards in this market at one time, becoming far more competitive. The study also revealed the boost that eRoom received from a viability standpoint when it was acquired by Documentum. The survey results indicate that Open Text was wise to breakout its teamware product as a separate collaboration offering (the Livelink components were reviewed in this study). Moreover, given the poor showing that SiteScape made in the presence category and the strong showing it made in the performance category, the study underscores just how attractive SiteScape is as an acquisition target. Consequently, this market will consolidate down to a handful of large suppliers that can bring to bear ready access to capital, broad distribution channels, and deep international support as well as attract a healthy cottage industry of developers and system integrators. Ultimately, the teamware market will explode by being contextually embedded in enterprise applications (e.g., PeopleSoft, SAP), operating systems (e.g., Windows 2003), document/content management (e.g., Documentum, Vignette, Interwoven, Stellent), and portals (e.g., IBM WebSphere, Plumtree). Due to this inclusiveness, we expect the standalone teamware market to wither, leading to the paradoxical situation of the market exploding from a usage standpoint but contracting as an independent market. It should be noted that our comparative results are based on hardwired evaluation criteria, which would change if modified to meet a specific organization’s requirements.

The Leader
It was no great surprise to see Documentum - having recently acquired eRoom - in the leader category. eRoom was started in 1996 by Lotus refugee Jeffery Bier and has been focused like a laser on this market. It has pioneered many of the common innovations in the teamware category, and it has been broadly adopted by many Global 2000 companies. Because eRoom was early to market and gained broad enterprise deployment, it encountered, and ultimately resolved, many operational issues related to multiserver implementations ahead of other vendors. Yet eRoom on its own would not have fared nearly as well in the METAspectrum as Documentum has, having acquired eRoom in 2002. The acquisition put eRoom on solid financial footing and tied it to an enterprise-class document management system, highlighting the increasing dependency of content and collaboration services. The core challenge for eRoom moving forward will be to ensure that customers and prospects see its value independent of Documentum document management, and not view an eRoom investment as a stepping-stone to other Documentum products, which would certainly have a dampening effect on eRoom sales. In addition, the core differential that eRoom must emphasize is its verticalization of workspaces around processes that are document-rich. eRoom will prosper by moving up from technology prowess to process competencies over those of Microsoft, IBM, etc. We expect the pending acquisition of Documentum by EMC to have little impact on eRoom business, as long as Documentum is run as an independent business unit as EMC has indicated it will be.

There were three challengers in the Teamware METAspectrum:

  • Microsoft: Microsoft was given special dispensation to submit an unreleased product - Windows SharePoint Services 2.0 - since release was imminent (it is now available) and it is a substantial improvement over the 1.0 product, which lacked such basic features as document versioning. It appears that Microsoft did its homework, because 2.0 meets most of our requirements and - since it will be included in Windows Server 2003 at no extra cost and is the collaborative focal point for Office System - we expect it to receive a significant amount of Global 2000 company deployment. However, the true value of Windows SharePoint Services will be realized only when organizations have complete deployment of Office and Windows 2003 technology.
  • Open Text: Open Text was somewhat of an anomaly in this study. The company only recently started selling an independent teamware tool; its teamware services had been bundled into a larger knowledge management platform called Livelink. Therefore, Open Text recognized early on the value of combining collaboration with document management and has continued to delivery innovative services, such as MeetingZone for integrated Web conferencing services.
  • IBM: IBM, which has long been the overall leader in the collaboration market, has enjoyed modest success with QuickPlace (now called Lotus Team Workplace), selling it largely into the Domino installed base. Although QuickPlace development has never seemed to be a high priority for IBM, each new version has become more competitive and the current incarnation meets the majority of our requirements. We believe IBM will give Lotus Team Workplace a new lease on life by offering it as an option for its popular WebSphere Portal Server and by offering an edition based on DB2 and the WebSphere application server.
The followers were the two smallest vendors in the survey, but they were rated as such for different reasons:
  • SiteScape: SiteScape actually out-performed all other vendors except Documentum in the performance category (primarily in the technology section), but suffered in the presence category, which is almost inevitable when a very small company competes against industry behemoths such as IBM and Microsoft. Just as eRoom benefited by being bought by Documentum, we would expect SiteScape to fare considerably better in the METAspectrum in the likely event that it is acquired during the next 12 months. The company has proven itself popular in US government sectors. Prior to Intraspect’s acquisition by Vignette, we invited the process teamware specialist to participate in this survey, but the company declined the invitation.
  • Groove: We hesitated to include Groove in this METAspectrum, since it is somewhat a different beast, due to its reliance on peer-to-peer replication (as opposed to a server repository). Ultimately, we decided to include it due to it having the same business goal as other teamware players: enabling group participants to more efficiently carry out project plans. Not surprisingly, as a small supplier, Groove suffered in the presence category. But in the performance category, it came in last place due to shortcomings in areas such as document handling, international support, and service and agility. Yet Groove has developed a loyal following (e.g., federal government, pharmaceuticals), mostly in areas where its client-side support (e.g., mobile), excellent security (e.g., for cross-business boundary collaboration), and offline support are paramount.
Business Impact: Collaboration tools such as teamware enable project teams to become more efficient by creating project histories, centralizing interactions, and providing mechanisms for group document creation, task tracking, and scheduling.

Bottom Line: The teamware market is maturing, moving from small vendors to large vendors. Ultimately, we expect the standalone teamware market to be minimal compared with embedded teamware services.

META Group originally published this article on 18 November 2003.

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