Gartner has just published its latest ‘Magic Quadrant’ report for Social Software. If nothing else, it gives you a list of all the key vendors in this space, though you may personally disagree with where they are placed in the various quadrants. For example, Microsoft is considered to have more completeness of vision and greater ability to execute than Google. Maybe Gartner analysts haven’t been speaking to anyone struggling to implement MOSS 2007!
The definition of the market they are covering in this reports is:
We view this market as consisting of products that focus on team collaboration, communities and social interaction. The buyers in this market are looking for persistent virtual environments, in which participants can create, organize and share information, as well as interact with each other. They are deployed internally among employees or contractors as well as externally for partners, customers, prospects or other stakeholders. The business uses of these products vary in terms of degree of formality and openness â€” from team information sharing and project coordination among a small, homogeneous group within an enterprise; to sharing best practices within a business unit; to encouraging socialization and knowledge transfer among employees or even external participants in a partner or customer network.
In general terms, products that compete in this market, help users to:
- Find out about each other.
- Form teams, communities or informal groups.
- Work together on the same work objects.
- Discuss and comment on their work.
- Organize work from their perspective.
- Identify relevant work.
- Discover other people with common interests.
- Learn from others’ expertise.
Some specific uses of products in this market include:
- Sharing team information and coordinating project-related activities by adding permanence and structure to ad hoc communications.
- Empowering communities of experts and interested parties (bonding people by specific interests, capturing best practices, disseminating lead-user innovation and providing an informal support network).
- Facilitating social interaction by helping people to establish and strengthen personal relationships, develop trust and, in the end, to reduce friction and accelerate the business processes that people are engaged in.
- Accessing relevant knowledge and expertise that can be used to formulate a plan of action when decisions need to be made.
We adjusted the name of this market from “Team Collaboration and Social Software” to just “Social Software” (see “Magic Quadrant for Team Collaboration and Social Software, 2007”) in order to:
- Simplify it, as social interaction support implies team collaboration support.
- To recognize the provision of social interaction support as one of the most important sources of differentiation among the products from established and new vendors.
- To take into account the addition of blogs and wikis in the minimum functionality for inclusion (see below).
The products available in this market are generally deployed internally and managed by IT departments or service partners, although an increasing number of vendors make their products available via SaaS and, in some cases, as managed appliances.
I will leave readers to draw their own conclusions from the report, but for me, it doesn’t look like a completely unbiassed and objective assessment of the social computing environment.