Left Image: Companies can monitor and manage the discussions in their marketplace, screenshot of Jive Market Engagement
This post was collaboratively written on a wiki with my colleague R “Ray” Wang who focuses on enterprise strategies such as CRM. My focus is on customer strategy which encompasses social technologies. Together, we’re covering convergence of the emerging and incumbent technology systems, he’s cross-posted on his own blog.
Summary: Jive Offers Brand Monitoring Using Radian6 –Empowering Companies To Quickly Respond
Jive Software made an announcement that they’re now incorporating listening service Radian 6 into their community platform suite, they dub it Jive Market Engagement. This gives internal teams that manage brands, topics, or influencers to discuss, manage, and assign tasks to follow up with real world –and real-time market events. An example? A company selling headache relief medicine can quickly be alerted to conversations with mommy bloggers in the social sphere, discuss in an internal, private community powered by Jive, then decide on how to quickly take action before it escalates.
Currently, companies are doing this in a mish-mash of manual efforts using scraped together RSS feeds, Google alerts, and Twitter clients. The benefits of this partnership? Companies can now become more organized around the real-time web, develop a process to quickly respond and therefore be more reactive to customers. Yet, despite the automation upside to brand and customer management, this causes yet another disparate pool of customer data that IT departments will have to splice together –potentially giving customers a fragmented view. Companies should nod to this latest trend of social business software converging with existing company systems and develop an information strategy.
Macro market forces foster new trends in adoption and risk:
Despite this announcement, there are greater trends at play that impact both business and IT side, be aware that:
Diverse systems converging, resulting in greater speed but more complexity
The push to improve customer intimacy, move to a proactive customer experience, and convergence of Web 2.0 with enterprise class social business apps, drives new models and solutions. We’re tracking this living breathing reef and see social software, CRM, brand monitoring, email, and mobile quickly converging.
More “CRM” features being deployed, without involving the CIO
Jive’s offering is really a customer relationship module in disguise, yet because of the web based offering, marketing can implement this psudo-CRM solution without involving IT. We continue to see technology adopted from business units -often at the frustration of not getting on the IT roadmap during budget tightening times.
Greater exposure to risk, as more siloed customer information fragments enterprise systems
Being responsive to customers is ideal, but in the long run, it’s not truly effective if you can’t integrate it with your sales, service, or marketing systems. In the end, fragmenting customer data will result in disjointed user experiences for customers as separate departments will have disparate data for each customer.
Jeremiah (business side) and Ray (IT side) come from completely two different worlds’ speaking two different languages. Yet they both know that these new technologies are going to force IT and Marketing to quickly come together. Expect to see more joint-blog posts merging these two groups together, because customers don’t care what department you’re in –they just want their problems solved.
Ray’s Take: For the CIO
Expect a proliferation of social media monitoring solutions to emerge with a tie back to CRM, eCommerce, project based solutions, and collaboration software. Disparate sources will create fractured customer experiences. Single 360 degree view must be assembled and reassembled.
- Find tools to aggregate these new channels and sources. Consider how these new social business software platfrms will integrate back into data warehouses or customer interaction histories.
- Focus on data integration skill sets as process, data,meta data across hybrid deployment models. Data integration and master data management will play a role here.
Jeremiah’s Take, For the CMO
Marketers should continue to be responsive to the real-time web, but quickly develop processes that involve other customer touchpoints such as support, service, and product development into the mix
- Don’t limit your responses to the corporate communication team and brand monitoring team –cascade this information quickly. While the discussions that will be had in Jive’s community platform will help to aid the customer triage problem, be sure to tie the process and data back to other customer facing teams. Remember, customers don’t care which department you are in.
- Use imported social data to create topic based aggregations. Looking forward, use the data that brand monitoring companies are unearthing and turn your product pages into trusted aggregations of conversations –not just static product pitches. Learn how future webpages will be more like collections of customer conversations.
The Altimeter Group is a strategy consulting firm focused on providing companies with a pragmatic approach to emerging technologies. Note: Ray had a minor changes and links added, which I’ve updated since original post.
Mzinga is one of the companies that I closely watch, in fact, they were in my recent Wave, which was started last summer, and performed well.
I’ve been hearing from multiple sources in a variety of folks that Mzinga is undergoing some changes. With the recent layoffs a few months ago, to apparently voluntary leave of the CMO this week, there are a lot of questions I have to ask.
Today alone, I’ve received over four direct messages or emails from individuals suggesting there is some difficulties. I’m being vague on purpose, as I’m not going to start rumors and I’m not going to speculate without first talking to the company.
Mzinga responded to my queries in public on Twitter, and we’re planning on speaking next Monday, one week from now. It’s interesting to note, that if I don’t hear from the company themselves, others will tell me, resulting in my asking questions in public.
Why this post? It’s my obligation to have my clients best interest in mind, and this is the fastest way for me to reach them, by using the tools where we’re already connected.
I strongly recommend that any Mzinga clients or prospects stall any additional movement till they brief me next Monday.
I promise to be fair and balanced in my coverage towards Mzinga –yet with the interest of buyers and brands foremost.
Update: Thank you for all the feedback, please read A Public Apology to Mzinga
Over the last year I’ve been trained to make my points not just with opinion but with data, so I’ve done just that with this experiment. In a crowded market (esp if you’ve 100 competitors) having an at-par product isn’t enough. Strategic market will out position your competitors and make sure you’re considered and then preferred over others. Sure some strong brands like GM don’t need a tagline, but others that have ingrained “just do it.” are now part of culture.
In a few short days I created, fielded and collected data from a small survey set of folks that read my blog and are connected to me on twitter, the results are below.
Data: Tag Line Recognition, all respondents
Out of a base of 60 respondents, which is on the smaller side, we could quickly see a trend on which taglines were the most recognizable.
90.00% were able to recognize Twitter’s “What are you doing?”
30.00% were able to recognize Kickapps’s “Social Networking Software Platform and Soical Media Community Building Applications”
28.33% were able to recognize Lithium’s “Successful Communities On-Demand”
25.00% were able to recognize Liveworld’s “Your Brand Lives in the Voice of Your Customers”
25.00% were able to recognize Jive’s “The Business Social Software Leader”
21.67% were able to recognize Mzinga’s “On-Demand Social Software Solutions for Marketing, Support and Learning”
21.67% were able to recognize Awareness’s “The Leader in Social Media Marketing”
18.33% were able to recognize Leverage Software’s “People-Centric Social Networking Solutions for Business”
16.67% were able to recognize Telligent’s “Enterprise Online Community”
15.00% were able to recognize Pluck’s “Leaders in Social Media”
First of all, this isn’t a completely scientific study, with a small sample base, this isn’t a formal market research project that I do on the day job, but it is fun and does help me to make a point about marketing in a crowded pond.
Despite it being a small sample size, the audience reading this blog and those connected to me are certainly in the space. Since this was launched on my blog and twitter account, it is targeted in the social software space, this wasn’t a survey that went to grandmas in the congo.
I wanted to do a larger sample of taglines that spanned other vendors like Blogtronix, Neighborhood America, OneSite, HiveLive, and on on, but I realized I didn’t have enough bandwidth for this project –nor easy to use tools.
Most of the respondents were influencers or decision makers. 10 of respondents worked for community platforms, but only a half of them were the vendors listed above. 12 of the respondents replied they were a decision maker, I can see the emails and some work for large corporations. 27 said they were influencers. 5 were unsure what this market is, or were not involved with this market. the rest had misc write ins.
11 of the respondents already had a community platform, 20 of them had no need for a community platform, but about half of them worked at the vendors themselves. 8 were unsure and needed to learn more if they needed a community platform, 17 of the were researching this market, and 1 said they were ready to buy.
Even the most recognizable tagline by Kickapps (I’m not sure how anyone could recognize that beast) has nothing to be proud of, at best, less than one-third of the market could recognize it.
Some responded they worked at community platform vendors, and while they got their own company right (I misread the data before) they didn’t recognize the taglines of others.
I threw twitter in as the first question just to get people feeling good, and it’s somewhat of a control sample, they are clearly in this space. It is interesting that 90% of them clearly could recognize this call to action.
In a market this crowded (100 vendors) creating a tagline or brand that makes you standapart may be key. On the other hand vendors like Six Apart and Social Text (both long time recognizable) brands don’t have a tagline at all.
Although Pluck’s “Leaders in Social Media” and Awareness’s “The Leader in Social Media Marketing” are nearly identical, Awareness has a 5 point gain, why is that? I’ve often thought Jive’s enterprise octopus was fairly unique and fun, and told a story that other serious minded enterprise vendors failed to get.
The vendors in this space, at least by tagline are for the most part, indistinguishable, I can back this up with my frequent client calls of brands asking for vendor recommendations and general confusion on who does what –good thing we published a Wave report helping with that. While some of the vendors had more of a descriptor than a tagline, they were for the most part, not different from each other.
Doug Haslam writes that he found this experiment interesting, and although he’s in PR and covers this space, could only identify one tagline in the space.
Voices from the community
I asked the respondents what would they do if they were the CMO of these vendors, because of the large amount of text, I’ve moved them to a seperate page, but you should read some of the cherry insights they provided.
Thanks everyone for this quick and interesting experiment.
Here’s Doug’s Podcast discussing the topic, listen in.
After a recent discussion with the CMO of one of these vendors (I’ll tell you later who it is, newly minted CMO of Lithium Sanjay has revealed himself in the comments) we both were discussing the different taglines for the vendors in the wave, and how they are similar and different in a very crowded market. Let’s prove it by taking it to the market.
Take this quick quiz: Can you Identify the Taglines of Community Platforms? The quiz is now closed and the results are now live
Take this quiz and see if you can identify the taglines of the different vendors, once you complete the quiz, a link will be provided where you can see the answers. I’ll make the results public after I get a healthy sample size.
The first tagline question, I hope you get –it’s an easy one.
Clients can access the full report The Forrester Wave™: Community Platforms, Q1 2009 on the Forrester site, however the high level findings are available below, as with all of our reports, we stand by our products.
Communities are a powerful way for businesses to grow
Used correctly, communities can impact the top and bottom line of company’s financials: from brands encouraging customers to self-support each other (reducing costs), to spreading word of mouth to each other (efficient marketing and increased sales) to crowd sourcing innovation (streamlining R&D) communities matter more than ever –especially during a recession.
What you must do before you select a vendor
Many of our clients follow the POST methdology, which is a framework for them to first understand the People they’re trying to reach, and how they use social technologies. Then to pick an Objective that aligns with their business, next, they will spend most of their time scoping out the Strategy, which includes internal processes, stakeholders, roles, budgets, empowerment, policy, and change management. Once you’ve done that, only then you’re ready to choose a vendor, which is the Technology. As a rule of thumb, successful brands focus about 80% of their efforts on the People, Objectives, and Strategy, and about 20% effort on Technologies –don’t get it backwards.
Over 100 vendors in this commodity market
Many an entrepreneur has realized this community opportunity, when I started to cover this market there were 8 vendors on my list, today the space now boasts 100 vendors and it continues to grow. Fortunately, the Forrester Wave reports are designed to segment crowded industries. It’s important that your realize this report is for interactive marketers at enterprise-class companies that are seeking to deploy customer communities –not for the internal intranet, collaboration, or insight community vendors.
Therefore brands seek solution partners–not technologists
Having spent my time as a community manager at Hitachi and coupled with research we know that successful community deployments are far more than forums, blogs, rss or other technologies. As a result, we applied over 60% of our weighted criteria based on what our clients tell us they want, a solutions partner that delivers strategy, education, services, community management, analytics and support. During a recession, brands want to be sure that vendors are around for the long term, so we also factored in leadership, executive team, client base, and of course, financial viability.
Key findings of the 9 vendors
What did we find? First of all, this is still a very young market, with the average tenure of a company being just a few years in community. Despite the immaturity, we evaluated nine and were impressed with Jive Software and Telligent Systems who lead the pack because of their strong administrative and platform features and solution offerings.
Next, a group of vendors ranked as strong performers: KickApps and Pluck enable large Web sites to quickly scale with social features. Also in the strong performer category, Awareness, Lithium Technologies, and Mzinga enable brands to build branded communities while LiveWorld offers brands agency-like services. While Leverage Software is not on par with the others in the category, they are ideal for medium-sized businesses and due to their cost-effective platform could have a strong position during this economic downturn.
Above Graphic: Forrester Wave™: Community Platforms, Q1 ’09
Customize the Wave report to your business needs
We don’t live in a world of absolutes, and we understand that the needs of one brand will differ from another, so clients that can access the report can also download the excel sheet. This detailed excel sheet for clients (which has scores, explanations, criteria, scoring criteria) has ‘sliders’ and ‘toggles’ that make it easy for brands to dial up or down specific criteria –creating a custom Wave report for their needs. Different business needs require different vendor offerings, so the Wave is flexible, you can make it your own.
A summary of the rigorous methodology:
I encourage our clients to be open and transparent about their products and services, in order to build trust with their market, so I’m holding myself to the same rigors, here’s a high level summary of the process:
First, we vetted the 100 vendors to submit to a vendor product catalog, over 50 submitted which we used the data to pair down who were appropriate for the Wave report.
Hands-on lab evaluations: I spent up to 6 hours with each vendor in a windowless room to evaluate their product live using common customer scenarios. I grilled the executive team, and discussed their strengths and weaknesses.
Product demos. We asked vendors to conduct demonstrations of their products’ functionality. We used findings from these product demos to validate details of each vendor’s product capabilities.
Customer reference calls. To validate product and vendor qualifications, Forrester also conducted reference calls with up to three of each vendor’s current customers for a total of up to 27 customer calls.
We collected hundreds of screenshots, presentations, samples, reports and all of this information was entered in a multi-tab spreadsheet that accounts for thousands of cells, scoring, and detailed explanations which clients can use to toggle up and down specific needs as in some cases, specific feature needs may need to be highlighted over others.
In the bottom links, I’ve made my research process very transparent, and have indicate the other three other blog posts documenting this laborious research effort.
The conversation is just starting
Although this report is a snapshot in time, and some vendors have expressed they’ve made some improvements to date, to keep this long process from going further, we have to put a cap on the updates. Therefore, I will continue to keep the market updated with the the social networking weekly digest just as I have for the past years. In the spirit of the community conversation, if you’re a vendor in this wave in this space, I encourage you to voice your opinion online, I’ll make sure the market sees it, I strive to be fair.
A very sincere public thanks to the team
This was the most difficult project I’ve had to do in a long time, and I’d like to thank Shar VanBoskirk (editor), Christine Spivey Overby (editor and my manager), Angie Polanco (Research Associate), Oliver Young (subject matter expert), Sarah Glass (who went beyond the call of duty as a Senior Research Associate), Zach Reiss-Davis (Research Associate), Megan Chromik (editing), and Josh Bernoff (moral support), I couldn’t have done it without you guys, I assure you, it was painful for them as well as me.
Helping decision makers to be successful
Yet the pain will pay off for our clients as brands can easily find vendors that will meet their specific needs. I’ve been passionate about the community market far before I became an industry analyst covering this space, and am glad to serve the industry. We went to great lengths to be objective, accurate, consistent, detailed, and fair and hope this accelerates your business. Thanks for your patience, and enjoy the Wave!
I’ll be updating this section as I see interesting voices from media, vendors, brands and customers.
Jive and Telligent have made the report available
Read Write Web: Report: Community Platforms Market Led by Jive Software and Telligent
Leverage Software CEO Mike Walsh (and other vendors) have responded in the comments
Josh Bernoff: Picking a community vendor? We’ve evaluated a bunch
Tom Humbarger: Questions if these vendors are eating their own dog food read Walking the “Social Media Walk”
Telligent’s corporate blog chimes in and makes the report available for you.
Connie Benson: Wave report showcases community platforms
Neighborhood America CEO, Kim Patrick Kobza: Forrester Wave Report Part 1
Forrester’s Interactive Marketing Blog: I’ve cross posted this same content on our blog for interactive marketers.
My follow up post: How we filtered 9 vendors out of 100 for the Community Platform Wave
Webinar: I’ll be conducting a teleconference on Feb 3rd, hope you can attend
Max Kalehoff discusses the wave and talks why he choose Telligent –and how they can improve.
Destination CRM: Forrester Waves to the Top Providers of Community Platforms
Barry Hurd: Corporate Social Media Platforms – great info to check out.
Mediapost: Ultimate Guide To Community Platform Technologies
Read more about this Wave Research project:
Part 1: Starting the Wave
Part 2: Data Collection Process
Part 3: The Analysis Process
Part 4: Announcing the Wave, the final report
Cisco launches “Entertainment Operating System” (EOS)
I spent the day with Cisco’s Eos team a few weeks ago in their shiny SF offices, and learned a great deal about their SaaS platform and intentions to provide a community platform to the media industry, much of my conversation is still under NDA, although they’ve already gone public with this announcement from CNET and WSJ. This project, while we certainly had our suspicions was kept very quiet, and even Cisco’s social media teams I’ve spoken to weren’t fully aware of the project.
Stemming from Community Experience at Five Across
In Feb 2007 (yes way back then) Cisco acquired community platform Five Across, and has since integrated the team with this media solutions business. Their goal? To provide a community platform to the media industry, of course eventually served up on Cisco’s infrastructure. This moves Cisco away from infrastructure (servers, networking, routers) and now to the application space, providing a broader offering to the large networks that don’t just want to put their videos on YouTube for Google to monetize.
New kid on the block will have some challenges
This doesn’t come without challenges for Cisco’s Eos team, as our research has indicated that community deployments are only 20% technology and the other 80% being process, roles, culture, measurement, and change management, this gives Cisco’s Eos a sharp learning curve, they’ll need to combat this with the success the team from Five Across and Tribe have gleaned over the years. Secondly, any new product is going to be plagued with areas to be tweaked, and some media brands may not want to be the early guinea pigs for such a deployment.
Takes aim at Kickapps and Pluck but backed by huge name
While there’s plenty of market share to go around during this growth period, this is a direct insertion into the deal flow of media focused vendors like Pluck and Kickapps, so you can expect brands to be sending RFPs to Cisco’s Eos team for evaluation. While the encumbants have a track record of success and Eos doesn’t have a folder filled with case studies, they do lead with Warner Music and have launched Laura Izibor and Sean Paul (I checked the code, it’s calling Cisco EOS code), they do have two strong things going for them: 1) Cisco’s existing footprint in the enterprise, 2) The thousands in the Cisco sales force and all of their contacts. and 3) Brand recognition from the big, safe, and profitable Cisco.
Over 100 vendors in this space
Exciting times ahead, I’ve just added Cisco to the ever growing list of community platforms –it’s over 100 vendors now.
Great move for Cisco as it puts more ‘bits in the pipe’, as online video increases demand for their networking gear.
Cisco EOS team will need to demonstrate they offer more than just technology to be successful, media companies need solution vendors –not technology vendors.
Competitors now have to compete against infrastructure play and big brand backing.
Cisco could drive down prices by offering Eos at bargain prices as a loss leader for other offerings.
Social Networking software is a cheap commodity and market is oversaturated, expect a shakeout during this recession.
Other large infrastructure players like Sun, IBM, Microsoft, EMC, and CMS vendors will eye the community platform space for buyout –yet startups will resist during periods of low valuation.
Update: Scott Brown from the EOS team has responded to me in the comments, and from the new EOS blog, he says my assessment was fair, which is of course one of the attributes I’m aiming for.