Thursday, 19 September 2013

A view of Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Social Networking Software in the Workplace in 2013

(This article will take 4 minutes to read)

GartnerThe race is on as enterprise social networking software vendors clamber for a piece of the highly lucrative market that is cited to be worth US$840 million in 2013. With estimates from Gartner suggesting that the growth between 2013 and 2016 could be as much as 13.4% annually this market will reach the heights of US$1.4 billion.  

With only 4 vendors in the Leaders Quadrant this year the market is quite diverse.  The Leaders Quadrant includes:  Microsoft, IBM, Jive and Salesforce.com.


Gartner Magic Quadrant for Social Software September 2013

Source: Gartner – September 2013 – Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace

Many companies still grapple with the concepts of implementing social technologies and it’s somewhat surprising when in presentations to boards and senior managers the topic of ‘enterprise social networking’ still conjures the images of Facebook and time-wasting.   Education is the key and of course helping companies to understand the benefits in the context of enterprise information management to improve collaboration and productivity.


In the world of intranets the phrase ‘build it and they will come’ was a myth perpetuated by many – this is also relevant in the enterprise social networking space.  By this I mean that just building your enterprise social networking platform will not guarantee success. There is also not a ‘one use-case fits all’ scenario.  An enterprise social networking journey must follow the same path as any other project in an organisation.  It needs a business case, it needs a strategy, it needs an executive sponsor and it needs to be addressing key business objectives that align with the overall business strategy.

Furthermore, functionality across the various enterprise social networking products is not a differentiating factor.  Most of the functionality in the Gartner Magic Quadrant leaders’ quadrant are similar and therefore the competition is finding a new ground.  Gartner has considered this by grouping products into three categories:

Social software as part of a horizontal platform.

This category includes social software that is provided integrated into broader enterprise content management and enterprise information management platforms.  This includes Microsoft SharePoint where its social capability is provided throughout the product and is tightly integrated to its core content management solution.  We have seen this be a key driver in customers who wish to explore enterprise social networking (forgoing some functionality which is absent) whilst leveraging an existing investment in Microsoft SharePoint and particularly in SharePoint 2013. This category also includes IBM one of the 4 vendors in the Leaders Quadrant.

Social software as part of another platform.

Similar to the first category with the exception that these product are not considered horizontal platforms.  This would include social software that exists within products such as SAP and Salesforce.com which are specific applications serving specific functions.  The investment here should be considered carefully with the future roadmap in mind to ensure that this type of strategy does not isolate the social interaction to just these specific platforms.

Social software aimed first at end users.

Here is the most exciting category.  The value proposition of this category is focused around the user experience (UX) and is compelled by similar consumer based services and primarily Facebook.  Further characteristics of this category include, but not exclusively: 

Cloud based – therefore requiring no IT investment in on premise technology, nor setup costs, nor organisational IT support.

Frequent updates – quick to market with changes in trends and desired features as they emerge without the lag of traditional on premise and packaged applications, especially in the cloud based offerings.

Mobile – some vendors are even leading with a ‘mobile first’ strategy, driven by the bring your own device (byod) trend and access trends what appear to be leading the way for mobile device versus PC adoption.

An example in this category is Yammer.  The social networking product recently acquired by Microsoft which is driving the end user movement for adoption. This approach is interesting to watch.  End users can start a cloud based social network with their organisations domain which those with an email address at that domain can exclusively join for free.  This mode has been coined the ‘freemium’ model by Gartner.  

Yammer is also capitalising on its cloud based platform by releasing frequent updates including updates that enhance its integration with other cloud based offerings including Office365.  SharePoint (on premise) and Office365 integration will see Yammer span this this category and the horizontal platform category as it starts to become integrated with SharePoint 2013 (available soon) and Office365 / SharePointOnline (available now).

Jive sits in this category, which is an advantage by definition of the benefits listed as well as a disadvantage for the following reasons. Customers who need to leverage existing Enterprise Information Management commitments or who wish to address future needs in the EIM space from an integration perspective may need to consider alternatives.  However, Gartner does not highlight this in the report, but research suggests that there is an integration with SharePoint (Jive for SharePoint) which could provide a solution to some EIM needs.

Gartner considers the growth in this final category to be the most aggressive and believes that market share in this category will grow the fastest.  

It is assumed, because Gartner is not prescriptive on this matter, NewsGator also sits in this category, albeit a product that primarily integrates with on premise SharePoint.  Integration with an on premise product will potentially slow upgrades and change, however this product has a strong following and user base and boasts a strong integration into SharePoint which would place it ahead of the pack in terms of seats in the corporate on premise space (above 10,000 users).

One thing is clear and that is that the emergence of a strong freemium Microsoft owned product in this enterprise social networking space (Yammer) has increased interest in the SharePoint market for enterprise social networking and allied with Microsoft’s cloud strategy the future of Enterprise Information Management from a horizontal products perspective and enterprise social networking in the cloud will be converging at a faster pace through this year and into 2014.  

Microsoft’s commitment to on premise enterprise social networks remains clear through SharePoint 2013 and the impending release of the Yammer integration for SharePoint 2013.  It is likely that these two strategies will emerge shoulder to shoulder for the foreseeable future providing support to those customers where a cloud based strategy is neither desirable nor imminent.

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