Though there are many potential opportunities from leveraging social collaboration technologies to support a more collaborative organisation, it can be difficult to know which vendor offerings best suit your needs. This article maps out the vendor landscape for social collaboration technologies, to help you understand where you need to start, and what you should be looking for in a vendor to maximise success with your initiative.
A “use case” focus provides a great way to differentiate vendors
Because there are so many vendors offering social collaboration offerings – and there is such similarity between many of the offerings in terms of the core features and capabilities they provide to support social collaboration – it can be hard to work out which vendors are best suited to your situation. Rather than simply shortlisting the top n vendors for your initiative based on their profile or size, look for vendors that view social collaboration the same way that you do, addressing the particular use case you are focused on. Whether you are looking for an enterprise social network to better connect employees, a social intranet to improve internal communications, or an external community for customers or partners, this approach will help you to compare like with like, and will save you trying to fit a round peg into a square hole.
The “right” product or vendor is only as good as your business change capability
Choosing a social collaboration technology that is well-suited to your particular business requirements and challenges is important to ensure you avoid wasting time, money and effort on a solution that is not fit-for-purpose, but it is vital to remember that even the perfect technology solution will not guarantee broad adoption across your workforce. You need to plan for an adoption and business change programme that extends beyond the first six months after launch, remembering that you are not just asking people to use a new tool, you are asking them to change their way of working. Vendors that recognise the importance of this change management process in their customers’ success will provide active input to the process, either directly or through strong partnerships with implementation partners.
Vendors’ backgrounds heavily influence their social collaboration perspective
A successful social collaboration initiative is about more than simply deploying a technology, and a use case-focused, packaged offering approach to marketing and selling its software is often a sign that a vendor has strong experience in and understanding of the business change aspects of social collaboration adoption. However, the vendor’s background will also significantly influence their focus and the specific use cases they target, particularly if, for example, they have an existing customer base for another of their products, and see an opportunity to capitalise on this market knowledge and profile. Similarly, where vendors have entered this space from adjacent technology markets (particularly around collaboration and information sharing), their social collaboration offerings are often characterised by particular strengths or understanding of the overlaps and integrations required by those technologies.