Recently IDC released their rankings of enterprise social media / social enterprise platforms, and it was clearly Gartner like in its pay for rankings play (I used to work for IDG so maybe I believed IDC was better than that). Having recently gone through an extensive search for such a platform I thought I would share my insights on the various platforms we considered. No vendor has paid for anything stated in this article nor do I have any affiliations with any of the vendors (unless you count my VCP5-DV certification with VMware as an affiliation with SocialCast). Furthermore, I did not look at company size, revenue or any other means of measurement outside of features, innovation and user experience.
There were 4 vendors clearly head and shoulders above the rest – Jive, MangoApps, Yammer and SocialCast in that order. Jive, from the features we were looking at, the innovation in their new products and the user experience delivered were what I would expect from such a platform. MangoApps is a close second, their latest version is extremely impressive and anyone looking at Jive, Yammer or SocialCast should put MangoApps on your radar now. SocialCast and Yammer round out the top 4, with a slight edge to Yammer in terms of features. One concern I have with both is their ability to innovate given that they are owned by much larger companies (with a slight edge to SocialCast/VMware in terms of being able to innovate new solutions).
After that there is a pretty major fall off to the next tier with only SAP Jam (really a SuccessFactors product) nearing the leaders quadrant. Other major players hovering between niche and major players are SalesForce Chatter, WebEx Social (aka Cisco Quad), SharePoint and SocialText. I almost left WebEx Social off the list since, best I can tell, its still vaporware but since Cisco Quad actually existed I will give them the benefit of the doubt since I was impressed with the demos I saw. Microsoft needs to realize quickly that Yammer is the front end that SharePoint should have always had and create a compelling cost benefit for SharePoint customers to adopt it or simply lay it on top of SharePoint now and continue to sell Yammer to companies who don’t want/need SharePoint in the background.
There are several other niche platforms that might provide you with some new features/functionality that you do not have in your corporate intranet today but are lacking in terms of features or user experience and don’t bring anything new to the table that isn’t copied by the others in front of them. Also, there are still a few old school players who bring basic profiles and forums but I don’t live in 2002 anymore – I want more than forums and glossy icons.
Time won’t permit me to get deep into a hands on review with each of these platforms but am certainly willing to speak with anyone who is working on a similar project to share my views and experiences in more detail.