The future of point tools in social software?

I started this post more than a week ago and I want to get it out before this week is over otherwise I never will. And my weeks end on Thursdays as I’m lucky enough to be home with my two daughters on Fridays — when “social” software means trying to get them to take turns playing Peep games on the family computer.

But back to topic. I wanted to revisit Vignette’s analyst day from a couple of weeks ago and specifically, a topic that came up on the one of the customer panels. Jon Sallade, Director of Web and Internet Services at Harvard Business School, was one of the panel participants.

My question for Jon was around the use of social software on the HBS sites and how this is evolving. I asked if HBS, which only recently has decided to use Vignette for the HBS Executive Education site (they were about two weeks from launch that day so must be getting close now), has various point tools up and running for blogs and community sites and if so, what is the future for these.

His answers? Yes, and they’re still figuring that out. He noted the importance, for example, of insuring a blog as popular the one by Andrew McAfee, which is part of is purview, work well, be stable, meet the author’s needs, but still function as part of HBS as a whole. He wasn’t sure yet if that would mean supporting a bunch of best-of-breed tools or trying to consolidate on a single platform, most likely with some customizations.

Perhaps more telling, another Vignette customer, Jeff Misenti from Fox News Digital, also noted having a WordPress site up currently and plans to convert this to run as part of the company’s larger Vignette implementation. He noted their desire to simplify their environment and eliminate the number of services that just “stick more javascript tags on our pages.”

It’s too early to say if this will be the predominant trend or if web services will finally make integration of multiple tools easier and eliminate the requirement to mush everything eventually into some kind of platform or “suite.”

But it does seem likely to me that as more WCM and collaboration vendors add social software capabilities to their products, more mainstream adopters (i.e., not early) will be less inclined to bring in additional tools. Unless of course features from the vendors they already work with don’t meet requirements.