Social software is getting more…social?

We’ve been busy lately increasing our coverage of social software vendors. In the last few weeks we’ve spoken with: Awareness, CollectiveX, Communispace, GroupSwim, HiveLive, Jive Software, Leverage Software, Lithium Technologies, Ringside Networks, Socialtext, Telligent Systems, and Wetpaint. Some of these meetings were triggered by new product launches and others were initiated by us, reaching out to begin coverage of vendors we hadn’t spoken with before. Most (but probably not all) of these have or will soon result in new or updated 451 coverage.

That’s quite a list and it’s only a list of who we’ve spoken with recently, not of all the vendors in this market and it doesn’t happen to include any of the larger players like IBM, Microsoft and Oracle.

So you have to ask, where is the differentiation? I don’t think that’s clear yet. Vendors are coming at this market from a particular area — like forums software or wikis — and tend to be targeting a particular types of implementations (BtoC social media vs. BtoE collaboration) so theoretically competitive products can be quite different under the covers (though often quite similar in marketing).

One thing that seems clear is that many vendors already in the social software realm are busy getting more social. By this I mean grafting on “social” aspects a la Facebook. This can be the ability to have user profiles and the ability to friend people or more sophisticated analysis of who knows what in order to connect users with similar knowledge or expertise.

Just a few recent examples:

Jive Software’s 2.0 release beefs up profiling and social networking capabilties.

The 3.0 release from Socialtext does the same.

Telligent added the ability to track activity data by user in Community Server 2008.

Wetpaint also added more social aspects recently.

Leverage Software has some interesting visualization technology applied to social networks.

Ringside wants to link public networks to business networks.

As vendors originally strong in wikis or forums software, for example, expand social networking and add other features, they’re much more in competition with each other than they once were. And organizations are likely to want to standardize to avoid profile proliferation, if nothing else.

I was talking with someone this morning about how many log-ins one large broadcaster has for its various customer/consumer communities (wikis, message boards etc.) and how it’s a high priority item for that company to fix it. That’s something we’ll no doubt hear more about as more and more products go social.



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#1 Tim Bauer on 05.10.08 at 5:01 am

I would agree with your points around Jive and others introducing social aspects. I did a cliff notes version writeup of Jive’s recent webcast on their 2.0 product features here ( For those that don’t have 60m to watch it might give a quick sense of what they are emphasizing (like Twitter and other social aspects to your points).

Would be curious on your thoughts on it.

#2 Mike Walsh on 05.22.08 at 9:02 pm

nice post! look for these point source solutions to blend into the Social Layer of sites – that is – into the core fabric of all sites. Leverage Software is experiencing that Social Software as a Service is gaining significant traction. Kudos to for laying the groundwork for SaaS.
@mwalsh on twitter

#3 Paul McGowan on 06.05.08 at 9:02 pm

There are a lot of companies in this space (about 70) and as expected there are a lot of companies that are sucking wind due to the stiff competition. Companies like Jive, Awairness, Community Server, 6 Apart, Ning will likely take the space while companies like Leverage Software, CoreSpeed among 50 others will likely go out of business due to poor customer success, lack of funding and poor execution. If you are looking to add a social component to your brand, be sure to select a leader.

#4 James S on 06.13.08 at 1:17 pm

I agree with Paul on several points. First his list of leaders is on the money; second Companies like Leverage will likely go away soon.

#5 Mike Walsh on 09.11.08 at 3:46 pm

Hi Paul and James,

Though I’m sure you have your reasons that contribute to your comments, I can assure you that we are not going away and that we do not lack in customer success, execution or funding. In fact, that last quarter produced record customer satisfaction, record new clients, record revenue, record new bookings and record employee and partner satisfaction.

Please keep track of what the leading analysts (including the451group) output in the upcoming months if you want an accurate assessment of our success and analysis of our potential.

If you would like to discuss details with me, please find me at mwalsh at leveragesoftware dot com.

mike walsh
Leverage Software

#6 John Scott on 01.12.09 at 5:10 pm

It is interesting to watch this space as of late. Jive took a massive hit and laid off 50% of their company. Jive as a leader in this space; it’s hard to see how the others will survive much longer. From the list I saw Awareness laid off a few people as did Leverage Software.. I think Leverage had 2 sales reps and are down to 1..50% i guess when you are looking at these small companies…I agree with most of what Paul said above but the last 3 months has put some stress on the top tier players as well. do we really need 70 social networking vendors???

#7 John Scott on 01.12.09 at 5:14 pm

By the way mike, did you see the latest from Forester?

Though Leverage Software is in distant last place at least you were mentioned!