Archive for the ‘Altimeter’ Category

A New Epoch: The State of the Social Software Suites


Left: The Sacramento delta forms after many tributaries feed into one single water body in Silicon Valley. Similarly, social startups are combining with incumbent software into one suite (Wikipedia)

As an industry analyst, I’ve been waiting to write this post for a few years, it’s fascinating to see the Cambrian Explosion (a prehistoric era where millions of species rapidly emerged on the earth) now turn into consolidated suites, as the ever fragmented Social Business Stack (we found 18 classes of software and service) unmanageable for brands who seek less complexity.  Finally, we’re starting to see the combination via partnership, as well as consolidation of platforms emerge.

[A Social Software Suite (SSS) is a consolidated set of social web applications across multiple use cases that share a common user interface and data interchange. The suite enables corporations to manage online relationships and activities with their internal and external customers]

In summary, the state of Social Software Suite (SSS) is immature. The the M&A is just happening across the industry and the integration stories have few proof points or customer case examples, we’re in a stage of infancy for social suites.  While we’ve seen many social media proof points, hearing how social integrates into email, advertising, crm, support software, BI, CMS, and beyond is in it’s early stages.  Without a doubt, we’re entering another era of the social space.

Consolidation a Natural Evolution, Sign of Maturity

  • Integration occurs after a Cambrian Explosion.  When I show brands the social business stack of vendors, they often sigh, get frustrated, as they know they’re the ones that must integrate all the pieces together.  They seek a common set of vendors to emerge that they don’t have to constantly coach on R&D and integration partners, and are waiting for maturity in products and consolidation so they have to analyze less vendors.   Secondly, as social integrates with all other incumbent software, the need for suites to emerge are only underscored.
  • High Valuations Forces Biz Dev and M&A.  The industry is feeling a domino effect.  As a few acquisitions start happening, large software enterprise players know they need to make their bet on the table to get into this game, after initial innovation was done by startup vendors.  With IBM, Adobe, Lithium, Salesforce making some of the early plays this has set off an arms race for other vendors to develop their integrated suite.
  • Facebooks IPO “Debacle” makes M&A more attractive.  With Facebook’s IPO not going as well as financial analysts had hoped with initial valuations, the hopes of these startups to go IPO and succeed like 10 years ago have now shifted to M&A deals, where the exit is combining with a large player.   The domino effect causes all investors, boards and executive teams to make their deals and moves before potential windows from suitors dries up.  It’s dating season, and everyone wants to mate.

Brands Must Prepare Company, Yet Complexities Not Undone

  • Suites are Good for Brands Who Tire of Complexity:  Brands are tired of dealing with hundreds of vendors, and having data and logins and systems spread across the space.  They seek consolidation from their providers, as doing it themselves in a rapidly changing environment is complex, expensive, and frustrating.  Expect brands to line up at the C level to embrace vendors that provide high level dashboards that provide real time reporting on these tools, and enable multiple business units to manage social use cases across the company.
  • Suites may Frustrate Brands Who Seek Best In Class: Don’t expect these suites to be a silver bullet to solve the needs of corporations.  Point providers can innovate faster, work with an ecosystem of agencies and system integrators and maintain platform agility.  M&A doesn’t promise integration will occur smoothly, esp as cultures and platforms are forced to marry in a rapid manner.  Expect many pure play vendors to maintain their lead and stand the test of time –without being acquired
  • The Future is Integration of Paid, Owned, and Earned:  Altimeter’s current research on the integration of Paid, Owned, and Earned (POE) has already found early indicators that brands, and their agency partners are seeking tools that interwork together, and as a result a new team within a corporation will emerge to lead this charge, agency partners will restructure and new software will emerge to make this come to life.

Ongoing List of Enterprise Class Social Software Suite (SSS) Vendors
If you’re like me (who’s full time job is to track this) this is a confusing space to track, as a result, I’ll keep this list updated for a few quarters, till it doesn’t make sense to manage this or it’s time for me to do a formal vendor rating and ranking.   Disclosure: Your trust is important to us, as a result, we want to disclose many of these vendors are clients of Altimeter Group.  Vendors are listed in alpha order.

 Provider Integration Points Research Notes
Adobe  Ads, Targeting, Analytics, Social Media Management System, Social CMS  Adobe was the first to launch a nearly complete suite that spans the entire digital marketing push at their Summit conference.  Although mainly marketing, they must bolster into customer support positioning beyond CQ5 this is a strong contender that already has an enterprise marketing footprint via creatives and now with Omniture.
Bazaarvoice  Ads (Media), Social integration in .com, analytics Bazaarvoice recently acquired top competitor PowerReviews giving them a lock hold over ratings and reviews across the industry. Recently, the announced a media product that extends social ads beyond .com and even beyond FB and Twitter ads.  They must expand to engagement software to cover the full span.
Google Search marketing suite, social network, applications, social media management system (Wildfire) and analytics Google’s strengths in search marketing has started to extend to Google+, although adoption numbers are a fraction of other social networks. Expect that Google Analytics combined with collecting of data from Google+ will impact search results in search engine results pages. Now with Wildfire, they can extend into the Facebook platform, as well as deploy Google ads in multiple locations, as well as tie to Google Analytics.
IBM  Analytics, Brand Monitoring, Targeting, CRM  A strong existing player that acquired Coremetrics, they have a strong background in analytics and intelligence, but need to develop an engagement solution that allows brands to engage in social while aggregating data back to their systems.
Lithium  Communities, Engagement software, brand monitoring  Traditionally a community vendor on support use case, they’ve acquired Scout Labs for brand listening and recently announced a white label engagement tool.  They must quickly move into the marketing aspect beyond support and launch an advertising platform that converts earned content to paid.
Oracle  Social Media Management System (Vitrue), Social Analytics (Collective Intellect) CRM and now Involver  New entrant, they acquired Vitrue for an assumed $300m showing the promise of social data into existing CRM systems a reality.  The roll-out isn’t quite clear for roadmap, I look forward to hearing more. (edit: now that they’ve acquired Collective Intellect, the pieces fit together: listening, engagement, analytics.
Salesforce  Brand Monitoring, CRM,, lightweight community products  Traditionally strong in sales and support use cases, Salesforce (edit: has purchased) BuddyMedia (who purchased ad platform Brighter Option) that would quickly extend them into a new arena, this fast mover is disruptive and is to watch.
 Whoever Comes Next  TBD:  TBD: I’ll update this as vendors emerge.

Related Resources

Altimeter Research Theme: The Dynamic Customer Journey


Connecting to customers is going to get more complicated, and brands (and their partners) must pay attention to the Dynamic Customer Journey.

We want to hear your point of view on the Dynamic Customer Journey (either in the comments below, or from your own blog) and we’ll cross-link to thoughtful discussions.

Introducing The Dynamic Customer Journey
We see this disruptive theme as consumers being able to use many sources, devices, and mediums at any given time, giving them more options and choices. The result? Consumers are enabled to have a unique path each time, making it harder to predict. This means the experience becomes increasingly fragmented for the brand, as they struggle to reach consumers across all these choices of sources, mediums, and channels.

What’s the opposite of a Dynamic Customer Journey? Back in the early mid-century, consumers had only a few TV channels and a few newspaper outlets to choose from. As a result, the experience was predictable, easy to target, and one-size-fitted-all. Today, this has drastically fragmented and is ever changing.

The metaphor I use, is when I’m in Times Square NY, and I’ve so many choices to look at logos, ads, and content across many screens, the real world, and people to talk to. We see a similar experience being present in front of consumers wherever they go, even in their living room with so many choices between TVs, laptops, tablets, mobile devices and soon-to-be Google Glass augmented reality.

The Factors that Impact the Dynamic Customer Journey Multiply Complexity
A corporation that’s seeking to connect to their customers must understand all of these forces that impact the journey. They must be able to quantify the following for every persona:

  • New sources of information: Aside from press, media, analysts they are also relying on the crowd, and their friends. Soon augmented reality will allow for new data forms we’ve not yet seen. (that’s about 5 factors)
  • New forms of media: The channels as we know them Paid Owned and Earned are starting to intermix, as a result a new form of media is impacting them. Social websites have social ads, making content and advertising a new form. (that’s about 3 factors)
  • New screens: Traditionally we’ve thought of TV, Laptop, and Mobile, but now we must factor in a tablet experience (which is different than the aforementioned) and with Google Glass augmented reality coming, that will be a fifth screen to build a strategy for. (that’s 5 factors)

To understand the complexity, this model suggests 5 X 3 X 5 which is 75 different permutations. Next, the brand must understand this for every single phase: awareness, consideration, intent, purchase, support, loyalty, advocacy, (that’s 7 steps, resulting in 525 permutations per persona) then multiple times every product group and then geography, the math is staggering on the complexity.

Call to Action: Share your Point of View
This theme is complicated, so in our Open Research model, we’re calling for the community to source and share ideas, so we can collectively learn together. Want to get involved? We’ve published more on our POV on the official Altimeter Blog, and if you wanted to share your perspective, we want to hear, and will link to the community discussion.

  • Technology innovators: What new devices, software, data do you see emerging that’s resulting in customers having more choices in their journey?
  • Agencies and Service providers: How will brands need to catch up in their go to market strategy? How should brands restructure their internal organization to accommodate this change?
  • Brands and Companies: What are you seeking from your solution partners to help bridge this gap? What do you need from technology and service providers to move forward?

Related Discussions
I’ll cross link to all thoughtful discussions

Recording: Three Disruptive Business Research Themes


Advance your career and learn about the three Disruptive Business Themes companies cannot ignore.

Working among our team of analysts and researchers, Altimeter’s Research group has found three common higher level themes that will disrupt all businesses. Working among our analysts from mobile, content marketing, advertising, analytics, leadership, change management, user experience, and social, we’ve distilled all of the trends we’re seeing and found a common thread among them.

We generated the three research themes with the following in mind: the goal was to ascertain business disruption trends –beyond just technology changes. Each Altimeter analyst provided a unique viewpoint to help create a consolidated view of disruptive trends. All Altimeter analysts will focus on these research themes for 2012 and beyond. All our artifacts (speeches, webinars, reports, blogs, and client interactions) will stem from these themes.

Three Disruptive Business Research Themes

  1. Dynamic Customer Journey: How can inflexible organizations synchronize with the changing customer?
  2. Adaptive Organization: How can an organization adapt and thrive in a real-time world?
  3. Sentient World: What’s smarter: A college grad or your future fridge? (intriguing, yes?)

The recording is below, and you can listen in, and watch the slides in this short 20 minute presentation between myself, Jeremiah Owyang, and partner Alan Webber. We will be announcing a blog ring shortly, encouraging the industry to explore each of the three themes in the coming quarters from your own blog. If you’re interested in learning how to get involved email us at info



Altimeter Open Research Report: The Rise of Digital Influence


Altimeter Groups’s latest Open Research report (available on creative commons for you to download, use, and share) is now available from analyst Brian Solis. This report, which challenges the way that companies measure influence points out how tools like Klout, Kred, Empire Avenue and beyond.

[Physics Measures Both Potential and Kinetic Energy. Similarly, Digital Influence must measure Both Social Capital (Potential) as well as Actual Influence (Kinetic)]

In fact, companies are quick to add influence metrics into their social support systems, and marketing prioritization despite having full understanding of how these measurement tools actually create their indexes. This report, written as a playbook for businesses focuses on how to benefit from desirable effects and outcomes through social media influence. The report also helps consumers and academics understand how influence is scored and how these scores affect online reputations.

Open Research Highlights:
We practice Open Research, and hope you use it, share it, which enables us to create more. Here’s some key insights from the report, that drew my attention.

  • Influence is largely misunderstood, in fact the report makes a nod that these tools like Klout, Kred actually measure social capital — not your influence but instead, your potential for it.
  • None of the vendor services evaluated in the report measure true influence. Today’s software algorithms track social capital and topical authority based on online activity
  • The report helps companies understand how influence spreads, and includes case studies in which brands partnered with vendors to recruit connected consumers for digital influence campaigns.
  • The report evaluates 14 Influence vendors, organizing them by Reach, Resonance, and Relevance: the Three Pillars that make up the foundation for Digital Influence as defined in the report – not every service is designed to provide a total solution for every business need.
  • The report includes an Influence Framework and an Influence Action Plan to help brands identify connected consumers and to define and measure strategic digital influence initiatives.

Figure 2. Social Capital's Path Toward Actions and Outcomes
The report demonstrates a path how businesses should properly measure the impact of influence –not just look at an index number. Note how the further to the right, it actually demonstrates the outcome of the influencer, their network, and what actually happened.

Figure 7. Influence Tracker Features: Reach

Above is a sample: Dive into report to see feature comparison of all vendors, which breaks down feature comparison by: Score, Reach, Influencer Relationship Management, and beyond.

Related Discussions
I’ll cross-link to thoughtful discussions reviewing the report below

Learn about Altimeter’s three business disruption themes and upcoming report agenda to learn how our research will the industry forward.

Edit: I updated the post to include the phrase about potential and kinetic energy based of a conversation with Richard at Dell.

Upcoming Altimeter Research Report: Integration of Paid, Owned, and Earned


By Altimeter’s Rebecca Lieb, Industry Analyst and Jeremiah Owyang, Industry Analyst.

If consumers don’t differentiate between “Paid, Owned, and Earned” so why are marketers segmented by different departments and have separate agencies that do each?  Does a ‘social media agency of record’ actually slow progress?  Can a marketing effort be more effective if all of these methods are used together?  These are exactly the questions we want to answer.

I’m very pleased to announce a new research project by Altimeter Group involving myself (Earned, Owned) and Rebecca Lieb (Paid, Owned), our NY based analyst who knows advertising, agencies, and has written both a book and a recent research report on content marketing. My expertise is Earned and owned media, while Rebecca is more proficieient in paid and owned. Together, we will tackle the topic of how we see paid, owned and earned converging.  In fact she’s shared her perspective about how we’ll approach this joint report together. This report flows under Altimeter’s research theme of the Dynamic Customer Journey (more on that broader theme soon)

Five reasons the market demands this report:

  1. Earned (social content) has become mainstream. We’re past the point of experimentation. Nearly every industry requires mass deployment.
  2. Facebook’s recent announcements clearly indicate earned content is now becoming paid, and owned content needs to be paid to achieve mass appeal within an FB page
  3. Inside companies we’re seeing the corporate social strategist cross the aisle to work with direct marketers. Advertising agencies are extending their budgets into the social world. Political and coordination issues will emerge as they come together.
  4. Brands that integrate paid, owned and earned media will benefit because they will reach customers in the most effective manner.
  5. Consumers don’t consciously differentiate between ads, corporate content, and what their friends say, but instead indiscriminately use a variety of content sources.

Want to get involved? Altimeter seeks to interview and take in case study submissions from a variety of brands, agencies, technology providers, and third party topic experts, email briefings at  If you want to receive an email copy, sign up for our newsletter or follow the Altimeter Twitter account, and be notified when this report, and others, are published.  Also, if you see some notable examples of paid owned earned already happening (the Old Spice Man comes to mind) kindly let us know in comments or send us an email and we’ll take a look.  You can see our other Open Research reports on Content Marketing, Mobile Apps, Enterprise Social Networking, Analytics and more on our research report page.  We publish them under Open Research creative commons so they can be widely read, adopted, and shared.

Between her Ad and content background in NYC, and my focus on earned/social in Silicon Valley we’ll be the dynamic duo to put these questions to rest.

Update: Altimeter is hosting a Tweetup in NYC to discuss this live on April 12, and in SF on April 3rd

Join Altimeter Group at SXSW 2012


Left: Downtown Austin, 2007

Will you be at SXSW this year? This year, we’ll have another cadre of Industry Analysts there, please join me and my colleagues in learning, sharing, and networking at this annual festival.

I’m excited to return for my 5th interactive festival and it’s been fascinating to watch it grow and change to now include many business folks.

Altimeter Industry Analysts at SXSW, 2012

Calendar: Let’s Connect!  


  • Blogger Lounge, Daily: The Altimeter Group will assemble when available at meet folks at the blogger lounge, in part sponsored by Brian Solis in the conference.




  • Syncapse event, speech by Rebecca Lieb, Sat 12:30 Rebecca will be sharing her insights on content, future of media, and more at this sponsored event hosted by Syncapse.
  • Book signing, Rebecca Lieb, Sat 2pm Rebecca will be signing her latest book Content Marketing at 2 Sat: Austin Convention Center in foyer of Ballroom G.



Where will you be? Leave comments on the top panels and events where the Altimeter community can meetup, learn, and network. Looking forward to a great SXSW, get those boots on, stay hydrated and bring plenty of business cards.