Microsofts Stealth Attack in Enterprise Social Software

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Microsofts Stealth Attack in Enterprise Social Software

by Clint Boulton

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Gartner on Social Software

The Gartner Webinar covers trends for the enterprise social software market.

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Collaboration Desert

Companies tend to have either simple e-mail or structured collaboration systems, such as IBM Lotus Notes or Microsoft SharePoint, to facilitate collaboration among employees and the people they need to work with outside the enterprise.

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Social Software to the Rescue

Social software can slake users' thirst in the collaboration desert between e-mail and sprawling collaboration platforms. The software helps users cut down on e-mail overload and connect with others in the supply or value chain.

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Consumers and Enterprise Share Collaboration Needs

Mann wisely points out that consumers and enterprises share the same communication and collaboration needs to complete tasks. That's a big reason why businesses are collaborating with colleagues and partners via Facebook, YouTube and other social media products and networks. Accordingly, these products are more attractive to corporate workers doing payroll, human resources, invoicing or financial analysis, Mann said.

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Greater Awareness

Most enterprise CIOs have cottoned to social software use. Mann sees "pioneers" dragging social features—(JotSpot open-source wiki back in the day, anyone?) into the company. These people do this typically on the sly, independent of IT knowledge or support. Settlers follow the pioneers, testing the water before "settling in" to use the social software. These folks require more support, which is challenging for IT.

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What Do Settlers Use?

Most social software providers roll the individual products into a single suite that includes blogs, wikis, tagging, profiles and analytics. Products such as Jive's Social Business Software Suite, IBM Lotus Connections and Microsoft SharePoint make it easier for "settlers" to slip comfortably into social software. These products lead to increased productivity, teamwork and collaboration.

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Social Software Segmentation

Gartner started with one major social software "magic quadrant," but has had to break out separate quadrants thanks to market segmentation. These include the "your people, your place" social suites in the workplace, the EFSS and branded social media, which includes social CRM. Several vendors offer both workplace social software and EFSS.

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EFSS

Gartner sees EFSS, or the white-label social network market, as businesses that support collaboration among partners, customers and suppliers operating outside of the enterprise. This encompasses social profiles with blogs and forums that are moderated and managed by policies.

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EFSS Quadrant

Jive and Lithium lead this market, with Mzinga and Sparta Social Networks as niche players. Beware: Microsoft is coming on as a challenger.

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Social CRM

Social CRM comprises apps used by customer services to interact with customers, and those used by sales and marketing workers to follow up on leads.

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Social CRM Quadrant

Like EFSS, THE social CRM magic quadrant is led by Jive and Lithium, with Salesforce.com, Mzinga and KickApps as visionaries. Oracle CRM On-demand, Radian6, Visible Technologies, InsideView and others reside as niche players. No challengers are listed.

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Social Workplace Software

Microsoft, IBM and Jive are duking it out for internal social software platforms. Google, Telligent and Socialtext are challengers, while Mindtouch, FatWire and others are listed as niche players.

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Microsoft Is a Workplace Social Software Leader

Mann believes Microsoft is a viable entrant in this category with SharePoint 2010 after lagging in social software for so long. SharePoint 2010 fills a lot of the social software gaps. For example, the wiki actually looks like a wiki; this wasn't the case for SharePoint 2007. Social search, profiles and tagging are boosting SharePoint's case for social software.

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