The pressure’s on for social collaboration

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After riding the hype wave for almost a decade, social collaboration technology vendors now face a changing market – where they must compete with a new set of team collaboration tools like Slack. It’s been too much for some, with several players exiting or dialling back their investment here, but there’s one major new entrant that’s shaking things up.

Top takeaways

Social collaboration: down, but not out

The rapid growth and success of team collaboration application Slack (and its newer competitors), combined with the increased availability of social collaboration features in many different business applications and technologies, has created a more challenging environment for social collaboration software vendors, and the recent acquisition of Jive Software has led to further uncertainty. However, several key market players – including IBM, Salesforce and SAP – remain fully invested in this technology area, and the surprising entrance of public social networking giant Facebook shows that there is still demand and opportunity in the market.

Key trends: Use case focus, knowledge & expertise, AI, integration, video

As the competition for enterprise collaboration solutions heats up, social collaboration software vendors are under increasing pressure to clearly articulate their role and benefits, and this is leading to a greater focus on specific use cases with tailored, packaged offerings. Other key trends shaping vendors’ investments include: a renewed emphasis on sharing knowledge and identifying experts across the organisation; increased use of AI and analytics to enhance the UI; better integration support to enable social collaboration to become part of business workflows; and new ways to leverage video-based communications within social collaboration.

Suffering from a hype hangover

It’s fair to say that since we published our last major overview of the social collaboration software market in 2015, the landscape has changed dramatically. Once the darling of the enterprise collaboration space, enticing business leaders with the prospect of transforming the corporate culture and rocketing employee engagement levels, today the social collaboration software market is struggling to maintain its identity and credibility in the face of the next wave of must-have collaboration technology. So is this the end for social collaboration and enterprise social networks?

A shifting vendor landscape

The peak period of consolidation for the social collaboration market has long since passed (many of the pure play vendors that helped define the market, such as Yammer, Socialtext and Socialcast, were acquired in 2011/2012), but earlier in 2017 we also saw the acquisition of the last major independent player in this space, Jive Software. Having filed for IPO in 2011, Jive had struggled to achieve profitability (achieving it only through a major restructuring), and over the last couple of years began to see its growth tail off. In May, the company announced it was to be acquired by private equity firm ESW Capital for $462 million, and would become part of the Aurea portfolio. (Aurea was another of ESW’s acquisitions; ESW also acquired Sitrion – formerly NewsGator – this year.)


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