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January 09, 2009

Picking a community vendor? We've evaluated a bunch . . .

by Josh Bernoff

You know that Forrester analyzes technology to help businesspeople make decisions. You may not know just how detailed we get in that analysis.

My colleague Jeremiah Owyang has spent a whole lot of time in the last 4+ months looking at Community Software platforms from companies like Telligent Systems, Jive Software, Pluck, and Mzinga. This is what we call a "Wave" -- a rigorous comparison of vendors in a market. It includes not just having the vendors run through their features, but also reviews with their clients. Rigorous describes the methodology but also the experience; Jeremiah will tell you it takes a lot of diligence to do this right.

The Wave was published today. The full report is available to Forrester clients or you can pay for it separately. Alternatively, you can see the top-line results right here. In this chart the vendors that appear to right have the strongest long-term strategic position; those that appear toward the top have the best current offerings. In case you're wondering why we included these specific vendors, we used some criteria to identify those companies with the largest current client bases of major companies.

You can get a lot more detail on Jeremiah's blog post. He's going to be one busy boy helping companies make these choices, now that the Wave is out.

Forrester Wave™: Community Platforms, Q1 ’09
Above Graphic: Forrester Wave™: Community Platforms, Q1 ’09

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Comments

Sanjay Dholakia

At Lithium, we’re proud to be included in this report as one of the 9 leaders out of 100 in the space. We think this report represents a really important milestone for our category – the fact that Forrester has honed in on Community Platforms and published this first ever report means that the space is rapidly evolving and changing and that, most importantly, the real business value to customers that was highlighted in the Groundswell book is self-evident. We wanted to thank Jeremiah and team for all the work that has gone into continuing this process.

The report helps bring attention to the question of what really counts in online community -- at Lithium, we believe that the key is not the technology alone, but rather the science of driving a vibrant community and the success and business results customers can derive from that. As a result, we at Lithium were delighted to receive the highest scores in the Clients and the Service categories.

We're looking forward to conitinuing work with the team at Forrester to build this great category!

Sanjay Dholakia
Chief Marketing Officer
Lithium Technologies, Inc.

novaktually

I'd be interested to know why Ning didn't make the cut. (Err...maybe that's in the full report, but I can't fork over $795 to find out.) And yes, I run a community on Ning.

Lawrence

Josh, thanks for reinforcing how much _rigor_ has gone into the development of the Forrester Wave Q1 2009 for Community Platforms. I sincerely believe that Jeremiah et al have done a fair assessment of Telligent in this report, and I'm very happy and proud about our leadership position on the Wave. We are continuing to make significant investments in R&D, Professional Services, and our partner ecosystem to ensure that we remain one of the leaders in this space.

Lawrence Liu
Director of Platform Strategy
Telligent

Jeremiah Owyang

Jason

Thanks for asking, ANY vendor was allowed to submit to the vendor product catalog, which we used to filter down from 100 vendors to 50 to 9 based on specific criteria.

If you read my post carefully, we're seeking vendors that provide a 'solution' to brands: services, strategy, support, marketing, and analytics --beyond just technology.

Although I recently met with Ning's executives at their offices, at this time, I don't think they fall into the 'solution vendor' category, although given their success, they could easily staff up to achieve this.

This in no way diminishes Ning's capabilities, but just explains what criteria I was seeking for enterprise class marketers.

Hope this answers your questions.

Bryan Person

Josh:

Like Sanjay and Lawrence, we're also thrilled at LiveWorld to be included in the Forrester Wave as one of the leading nine providers of online community platforms and services.

We think the Wave gives Forrester clients and other prospects a good snapshot into how these vendors can serve as strong partners for their organizations in building and managing communities.

Jeremiah and other Forrester analysts often write -- and the Wave also reflects -- that technology represents only contributes to about 20% of a community's success. We agree with that. The people/services part (80%) -- the planning and strategy/vision, the relationship building with community members, etc. -- is far more important in the long run. We think we have that percentage just about right in our offerings at LiveWorld.

Bryan Person
LiveWorld

Mike Lewis

Josh,
At Awareness, we are very excited about our strengths outlined by Jeremiah in the Wave and are honored to be included in the top 9 of such a competitive market.

In addition to our participation in the Wave we are also excited to have launched a new online community for Sony Electronics this week. The community is powered by Awareness and is an excellent example of how we are making it easy for marketers to quickly and easily implement social media in a way that is tied to their business goals.

Josh, I’d be interested in getting your opinion on the outcome of the report. Did it stack up the way you expected? Were there any surprises from your perspective?

Mike Lewis - @bostonmike
mlewis@awarenessnetworks.com

Steve

Ditto on Sanjay's comment about Ning. Seems strange that you're not mentioning them. Curious what your view of them is...can you comment?

John Harper

Are "social networking platforms" included within your definition of "community software platforms." I assume "yes" but do want to confirm.

For example at CES, Cisco launched a white-label social networking software platform, called EOS, designed for other companies to use in creating their own consumer-facing social sites.

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