Investing in Social Software (Magic Quadrant)

Before taking the leap on investing in social software, make sure you have done your research. Even before this, set goals for what you want to accomplish by implementing this software. Do you want to increase productivity among project teams, facilitate idea sharing, or eliminate travel expenses? Make a list of requirements before looking at products.

If you have a lot of requirements, your software may be more difficult to use. Recently, Gartner put together the following “Magic Quadrant for Social Software” that illustrates this point.

Ability to execute” includes the criteria of marketing execution, customer experience, operations, market responsiveness and track record. “Completeness of vision” includes the criteria of marketing strategy, business model, innovation, and geographic strategy (among others.)

The four categories can be summarized as follows:

  • Leaders: Well established sellers developed through innovation and delivering a user-friendly experience that has proven success.
  • Challengers: These are the “up-and-coming” leaders, but are lacking in one or more of the areas noted above.
  • Visionaries: These players understand future market trends, and are poised to capitalize on them. They haven’t reached the scope of being a leader, but they often have solid concepts for what customers need next.
  • Niche Players: These vendors provide valuable software, but they have a narrow focus.

Gartner continues by claiming that there are three different kinds of vendors for social software:

  • Social application vendors: These are independent systems that are not integrated with other functions of your organization. Examples include Jive, Novell, and Socialtext.
  • Enterprise platform vendors: These have a more general presence in your organization, utilizing higher workflow and search functions. Examples include IBM, Microsoft, and OpenText.
  • Business application vendors:These vendors align with the functions of learning, performance management, and customer service. Examples include Saba, SuccessFactors, and salesforce.com.

Overall, all of the products in Gartner’s “Magic Quadrant” help users to form viable work teams, discuss and comment on each others work, discover other people and opportunities, and learn from each other.

But each vendor does it with a unique strategy. Carefully plan what goals you have for your social software, and choose the option that best matches your vision.

Learn more about Social Software in the workplace at the Social Workplace Conference on 1st November 2011 in London.