If you are reading a lot of analyst studies, you usually have the choice between ‚best of breed‘ and ‚best platform offering‘. This time it is different. Experton, the European Analyst firm, did an extensive vendor benchmark on Social Business. They are – at least to my knowledge – the first ones collecting data from Social Business Services up to different software components playing into the Social Business space. Just published early 2014 their study shows 9 different quadrants. And the results remind me of Star Trek Voyager and 7 of 9. Why? IBM is in the leader quadrant in 8 of 9 quadrants. The only quadrant not listing IBM as leader is the one for Social CRM. IBM doesn’t have an offer in this space … This is an outstanding and impressive achievement and shows the companies commitment in the Social Business space.
When talking about Social Business, people most often talk about Social Enterprise Networking Suites, the so called ‚Facebooks for the Enterprise‘. And obviously IBM Connections, the IBM flagship product, leads this market in terms of completeness of available modules from blogging to profiles and in depth functionality. The early investment – Connections was presented early 2007 – and the continuous development in connection with the impressive mobile apps available for all major mobile operating systems pay off.
With the product enhancements, which IBM just presented at IBM Connect, the company seems to be both willing and in a good position to continue leading not only this space. The announcement of IBM (Connections) Mail Next could reshape the boundaries between classical email and social software: a new dramatically different client unifying social software and email while leveraging analytical functions to take routine tasks away from the users and provide them the information they need in the right context.
But it’s clear that not only software decides on the success of a Social Business project. Good software is important, but the major inhibitor for success is good management and the willingness for change. IBM understood this very well from the beginning. One sign is IBM’s own ongoing journey transforming the company to become a Social Business. And IBM had a very early consulting approach – the Social Business AGENDA -, consulting and change management services as well as integration services through their own consulting arms as well as a broad network of business partners. Experton honoured this in the two ‚Services‘ quadrants in placing IBM in both leaders quadrants.
As mentioned above, Experton is not limiting their benchmark to Enterprise Social Network Suites (and services). The have included another arena with growing importance: Social Talent Management. In the light of the lack of qualified staff and the demographic development, the “war for talent” will become more important. The “Generation Y” also wants to be addressed with communications technologies known from every-day life and based on social networking mechanisms. This is one reason why „Big Blue“ acquired Kenexa in 2012, which gave IBM a broad portfolio of HR solutions from recruiting and onboarding to talent management backed up by deep HR data and expertise. For sure this is the reason Experton positioned IBM in the Leaders Quadrant for Social Talent Management. IBM recently announced the next steps with the IBM Kenexa Talent Suite closely integrating the Kenexa modules with IBM Connections and other IBM software modules.
Included in the Experton benchmark is the digital marketing and commerce perspective, too, where IBM again is positioned in both quadrants as a leader. IBM has recognized that the customer’s individuality and opinion are closely related to the potentials of the new social media. The Enterprise Marketing Management solutions and the broad commerce offerings give IBM an opportunity to adequately address the tasks in this space.
A very interesting space to follow is what Experton calls “Socialytics”, which means analyzing ‚big data‘ generated through the various social channels. This space is developing very rapidly. It will be interesting to see, if and how the IBM Watson technology will play into this ground in the upcoming years. And Experton addresses the ‚dark side‘ of Socialytics, too: In the discussion of current privacy and data protection scandals (NSA/PRISM), security is under special observations not only in public discussion, but also in many companies and workers’ councils. In this regard, Experton makes a clear statement: „Companies that use social business solutions have the responsibility to protect all personal data collected, processed or used, in compliance with legal regulations, also in cases where they do not run their social business solutions themselves, but use cloud-based offerings.“
Experton not only covers the different elements of Social Business. They also give a market outlook with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) in Germany of 50% by 2016 even outpacing cloud computing as IT and business driver. And clearly German companies don’t take the walk on the wild side of Social Business for the fun of microblogging. They wish to achieve a higher degree of efficiency. According to Experton, decision-makers in German companies rate a higher productivity and faster collaboration as key motivations for social business for communication & collaboration (SB4CC) initiatives. More than 70 percent say that SB4CC has helped them to improve productivity rates.
Experton is providing a comprehensive overview of the Social Business arena with special focus on the German market in terms of market adoption and market growth. But the evaluation of the services and software capabilities of the vendors is for sure not limited on Germany. Although the one or other local player of a region might miss, it gives a good overview and comparison of the capabilities of the major players with IBM in the clear lead. And Experton does not forget the cultural side of the game: Many companies just start migrating and installing, without paying appropriate attention to business/IT alignment and cultural change management issues. You need all ingredients to succeed as a Social Business: a clear business goal, executive leadership, the will to change, be transparent and tear down old silos, a secure framework taking privacy and data protection very serious, excellent software and … motivated employees.
The complete Study can be purchased from Experton. IBM will provide a summary in a Strategic White Paper for free.Please leave your contact details here and I will send you the White Paper as soon as available: