Magic Quadrant for Externally Facing Social Software

Magic Quadrant for Externally Facing Social Software

  • 25 August 2011
  • Jeffrey Mann, Nikos Drakos, Adam Sarner, Tom Austin, Carol Rozwell, Chris Fletcher
  • Research Note G00214775
Vendors of externally facing social software have focused on adding functions to meet expectations in a swiftly developing market. However, the next functions to be added involve more risk for customers, and vendors have only just started to help them ensure that deployments achieve their goals.

What You Need to Know

Those buying externally facing social software (EFSS) should not apply the same processes as they would for classic enterprise software purchases. The EFSS market is different from typical enterprise software markets because its users' needs differ: innovation matters more than integration or standards, and capabilities that add unique value matter more than the best or most complete functions.
In any case, enterprises would look in vain for the single "best" product to cover any situation because EFSS products take very different approaches to creating externally facing communities. Also, a community focused on customer support or product branding, for example, requires different features than a community aimed at engaging alumni or enabling innovation.
Buyers should focus on finding the right products to meet their community's needs. Buyers should observe users' behavior, survey their requirements and try to understand the nuances.

Magic Quadrant

Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Externally Facing Social Software
Figure 1. Magic Quadrant for Externally Facing Social Software
Source: Gartner (August 2011)

Market Overview

Social interactions do not stop at company boundaries; neither should the social software products that support these interactions. EFSS products facilitate interactions beyond the firewall to create communities among employees, customers, suppliers, partnersalumni and other stakeholders.
Enterprises' ambitions for EFSS may be outpacing the ability of vendors to deliver products to support them. Many enterprises have developed extensive social networks of consumers, partners, suppliers and other external parties, without explicitly setting out to do so. Now enterprises want to generate business value from those networks.
Vendors have done a good job of making their products appealing and easy to use. They have added a number of functions that users like, such as profile management, ideation and polling. However, the next set of functions, such as integration with other social networks and social search, involves more risk and complexity. In addition, vendors have only just started to offer social analytics, to define clear use cases and to support social networking standards. Finally, vendor services to help enterprises deploy and succeed with products remain rudimentary. These shortcomings mean that enterprises have limited choices when they take the next step in social networking.
Social software for external users offers opportunities for initiatives that enterprises have not been able to undertake before, such as engaging large numbers of customers in two-way exchanges. However, the market for EFSS remains immature, populated largely by small vendors and products with relatively narrow functions. Few large vendors have entered the market yet, and those that have do not always score well. By contrast, many big vendors now compete in the market for workplace social software. This situation complicates choices for purchasing managers and leaders of social software projects focusing on customers, partners, suppliers and other external users. The ambitions of some projects may exceed the abilities of social software vendors.
To understand the risks and limitations of the vendors in this market, social software leaders should assess their capabilities in three areas:
  • Serving users.
  • Business value.
  • Implementation.
Serving Users: Vendors devote most attention to making their products as usable as possible, and they have succeeded in building social sites with large numbers of users — some vendors have implementations with more than 1 million users. Common user-oriented functions include:
  • Facilities to enable users to manage their own accounts and profiles.
  • Suggestion of information discovered to be relevant to users, based on their profiles.
  • Easy facilitation of interactions with like-minded community members.
  • Moderation of social networks.
  • Shared calendaring.
  • Polling.
  • Rating and voting on ideas.
  • Rich media.
However, the next sets of functions that vendors are adding will introduce complications into enterprises' social networking efforts. Most vendors are working to give users the ability to log in using credentials from Facebook or other major consumer sites, and many vendors are striving to integrate their own software with that of other social networking vendors. These developments build support for the enterprise's community by linking it to the larger array of communities in which consumers or other users may be involved. These developments also carry risks. For example, logging on to an enterprise's community from a commercial social network means that the enterprise opens its community to the security risks of the commercial sites. A security hole in the commercial site could give hackers access to personal data on the enterprise's sites.
Vendors have also started to focus on enabling users to search community sites for material relevant to their interests — or on recommending such material to users. These goals will prove difficult to achieve because they require using limited information about people to infer individual needs, desires and contexts (such as roles). Vendors will need years to make these functions effective.
Business Value: Vendors face a big challenge to help their customers reliably deliver business value. In Gartner's survey of vendors for this Magic Quadrant, we asked vendors to describe the use cases that their products supported. Few vendors of EFSS defined specific use cases — the social CRM and workplace social software vendors did better. Most external vendors made general statements, such as "supporting customer engagement," without explaining how their products help enterprises to do this. End-user references were usually not much better at describing how they tracked business value.
Nevertheless, many vendors have started to focus on one area that promises to create rich business value: analytics. Analytics applied to a social network will allow enterprises to:
  • Map the relationships between users.
  • Identify the most influential users.
  • Detect early warning signs of shifts in sentiment.
  • Discover patterns to exploit for competitive advantage.
For now, vendors tend to offer analytics focused on a particular task, not general analytic capabilities. Thus, buyers today will find limited choices when they look for vendors with social analytics to fit their enterprise's particular needs. Enterprises also have to be careful how they present their efforts around social analytics, social search and other techniques for creating business value. Users find social networks "creepy" when the enterprise seems to know more about them than they had realized. Social networks involving consumers, who participate voluntarily and have many other choices, face an especially high risk.
Implementation: Vendors must do much more to help enterprises deploy their products and succeed in their external social initiatives. Vendors have taken some steps in the right direction. Many offer their software via cloud services, which enable enterprises to launch an initiative quickly and to scale it quickly — a valuable option for initiatives with hundreds of thousands of external users. Reliability, scalability and availability are particularly important in this market, as its software is always customer-facing. Although disruptions to workplace social software are irksome, short interruptions are rarely calamitous. When the outside world is even inconvenienced, it is always a disaster. Vendors still need to do more. Few vendors support standards for social networking — for example, OpenSocial application programming interfaces (APIs) remain inconsistent. Standards can make more flexible, open and user-friendly services for users, and reduce the enterprise's dependence any one vendor. Social standards will not become common until at least 2014.
Vendors do offer some implementation services, but not as many as enterprises expect. In social software markets, we see vendors taking a variety of approaches with regard to services. Some provide almost no services themselves, but rely on partners to perform implementations. Others make service provision, for tasks like strategy development, community building, content moderation and integration, an integral part of their offerings. Customers need to understand the vendor's approach and ensure that it matches their expectations.

Market Definition/Description

Products in the EFSS market support external teaming, communities and networking where most participants are outside the enterprise (for example, customers, affiliates, alumni, developers, members, contractors, partners, trainees and resellers). Buyers seek general-purpose, persistent virtual environments in which participants can create, organize and share content, as well as collaborate, organize activities, socialize, and develop or exploit social relationships, both with each other and with the hosting organization.
We define the market by buyers' behavior, rather than by vendors' statements of intended use. EFSS has a wider set of buying and influence centers than most enterprise software. Business functions are either directly involved in or actually make the buying decisions for externally facing products. IT departments are more likely to drive buying decisions about internal systems, especially when the platforms are deployed across the enterprise. Buyers of EFSS include:
  • Business executives (such as product managers, channel managers, product developers, strategists and business architects).
  • Personnel in other internal support organizations (such as program managers and business architects) involved in specific strategic initiatives (such as innovation, social responsibility and special projects).
  • IT professionals working in the IT organization, or in various other support or business functions.
Example uses cases include:
  • A pharmaceutical company providing communities for care givers who focus on the diseases their drugs treat, so that they can share experiences.
  • A product company interacting with users about improvements that they want to see in the next version of a product, or that would help them use products in innovative ways.
  • An intellectual property owner that runs a community for companies which license its patents and designs, so that they can share ideas about how to use technology.
  • An insurance or financial services company that operates a community for affiliated financial advisors, so that they can share experiences and learn more about the company's products.
  • Government agencies that collect feedback about potential regulatory or policy changes.
This Magic Quadrant does not address the key social communities and networks that operate independently and are beyond the control of the enterprise, such as fan clubs, review sites and personal blogs. Neither does it include support for direct extensions of CRM processes into social networks, or the use of social networks within an enterprise. Separate Magic Quadrants address markets for social CRM and social software used within the workplace.

Inclusion And Exclusion Criteria

We used three sets of criteria to decide which vendors to include in, and exclude from, this Magic Quadrant:
  • Audience.
  • Market presence.
  • Functions.
Audience: Vendors included in this Magic Quadrant offer generally available products that support collaboration and social interaction with large groups of users outside the enterprise's workforce. This must be a specific intended use of the product, as advertised in marketing material and as demonstrated in actual use. We have excluded products that are designed and marketed primarily for internal use but that can also be used externally by configuring firewalls or other technical settings, unless significant numbers of customers use the product in this way. The vendors in this Magic Quadrant must offer products that aim at general use, not use within a specific industry or to serve a narrow use case. We have excluded vendors that focus only on extending CRM processes into external communities.
Market presence: Products from vendors included in this Magic Quadrant have:
  • At least 500,000 users (seats) in total in production and at least four named reference customers, each with 10,000 or more users (seats).
  • At least $5 million in revenue from licenses and support for EFSS products. This criterion does not apply to open-source projects.
Functions: Products from vendors included in this Magic Quadrant have the following functions, at minimum:
  • Moderation: Capabilities or services to manage and control large numbers of comments and postings.
  • Social profiles: Information about each user accessible by other users.
  • Roles and access control: Support for multiple roles (for example, editor, facilitator, community manager and moderator) with associated access controls.
  • Discussion forums: Support for a persistent, moderated environment in which to post questions and answers or to have general discussions.
  • Blogs: Instant publishing functions for users that display entries in reverse chronological order and permit comments from others.
  • User management: Ability to create, modify or retire user accounts and to manage anonymous or "guest" users.
  • Analytical functions: The provision of reports and analysis of user activities.
In addition, products must support at least five of the following optional features:
  • OpenSocial support.
  • Multiplatform widget support.
  • Support for OpenID-based user authentication.
  • Ratings: Users can evaluate content posted to the site.
  • Recommendations: Content or people suggestions on the basis of preferences or behavior.
  • Social tagging or bookmarking: Users can assign tags to content items, and share those tags with other users.
  • Subscribe/follow: Users can elect to receive updates automatically about content, people, issues or other objects in which they are interested.
  • Deployment models: The vendor must offer at least two of the following: on premises, software as a service (SaaS), remotely managed appliance.
  • Document sharing: Ability to upload, store, organize and share documents.
  • Wikis: Group authoring of collections of pages with support for "click to edit," change tracking and internal linking.
  • Activity streams: A notification mechanism that provides updates to subscribers about the activities or events that relate to another individual, file, system or object.
  • Integration with consumer community sites such as Twitter, Facebook and LinkedIn.
  • Idea management: Tools that facilitate brainstorming and crowdsourcing innovative ideas, including facilities to submit, filter, organize, rate, evaluate and track ideas.
  • Privacy controls: Individual users can control who sees their postings, and what kind of information the site collects about them.


A number of vendors appear for the first time in this Magic Quadrant. They are not all new vendors or even new to this market, but all meet the inclusion criteria for the first time this year. The additions are:
  • Adobe (because of its acquisition of Day Software).
  • Demand Media.
  • Huddle.
  • IBM.
  • Igloo.
  • MindTouch.
  • ONEsite.


Several aspects of the inclusion criteria described above have been raised this year, in comparison to last year, with respect to market presence and functionality. Leverage Software and Sparta Social Networks did not meet the new criteria.
Day Software no longer appears because it has been acquired by Adobe.
KickApps was acquired by KIT Digital in January 2011. The company is developing a combined product line that was not available in time for this review.

Evaluation Criteria

Ability to Execute

Product/Service: We evaluated specific functions that are already available and, in particular, the extent to which the product goes beyond the basic functions required for inclusion. Functions we looked for included social network analysis, integration with consumer social networking services, analytics and reporting, and people and content recommendations. We also took into account the maturity of the product (the number of versions released and how long it has been available) and any evidence of large deployments.
Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization): We evaluated the vendor's financial health, including funding, who is investing in and backing its activities, its profitability, the overall size of its collaboration and social software business (in particular, dedicated employee numbers), and the degree to which the organization is committed to this part of its business.
Sales Execution/Pricing: We evaluated the vendor's ability to sell to large organizations, its price transparency, the straightforwardness of its sales process, the consistency of its revenue growth during the past 12 to 24 months, and its opportunity to convert existing customers into users of products with new or additional capabilities.
Market Responsiveness and Track Record: We evaluated the vendor's ability to respond, change direction, be flexible and achieve competitive success as opportunities develop, competitors act, customer needs evolve and market dynamics change. Specifically, we looked at the history of the product (acquisitions, partnerships, development and updates, for example) and the actions and comments of the product management team.
Marketing Execution: We looked for evidence of "mind share," thought leadership and brand recognition, and for any specific marketing initiatives (such as white papers, events and microsites) that promote them. One particularly effective approach is for senior executives to be active participants in ongoing online conversations via their blogs or comments. We also took into account the size of the marketing organization.
Customer Experience: We looked for customer feedback from vendor-supplied references, Gartner inquiries and other customer-facing interactions, such as Gartner conferences. Customer experiences are rated on the basis of the vendor's ability to help customers achieve positive business value, as well as sustained user adoption, and high-quality implementation and ongoing support. We also took into account the percentage of users still under maintenance, the mix of customers (large as well as smaller organizations), overall customer numbers, and evidence of outstanding customer successes.
Operations: We evaluated the quality of the organizational structure — skills, experiences, programs, systems and other vehicles that enable the organization to operate effectively and efficiently on an ongoing basis. We also looked at technology and service partners, training and certification programs, R&D resources, the presence of any independent activities adding value to the core product (for example, open-source add-on modules), the size of the support organization, and the presence of active customer communities for peer support, for input into R&D.
Table 1 shows weightings for our evaluation criteria.
Table 1. Ability to Execute Evaluation Criteria
Evaluation Criteria
Overall Viability (Business Unit, Financial, Strategy, Organization)
Sales Execution/Pricing
Market Responsiveness and Track Record
Marketing Execution
Customer Experience
Source: Gartner (August 2011)

Completeness Of Vision

Market Understanding: We evaluated the vendor's strategic understanding of social software opportunities, such as the business value of social interaction support, the complementarity of related capabilities (for example, social CRM, advertising and social software for the workplace), an urgency to pre-integrate them, a tolerance and acknowledgment of related technologies from other vendors, and an overall vision of the space that focuses more on supporting people-centric activities than a formal process-centric view of collaboration.
Marketing Strategy: The degree to which the vendor's marketing approach aligns with (and/or leverages) emerging trends and the overall direction of the market. In particular, we looked at the use cases promoted in the vendor's marketing messages, its online activities and any programs for educating and priming the market around social interaction support (for example, "try before you buy," open-source versions and hosted versions).
Sales Strategy: We looked at the level of channel activity and for any strategy for marketing add-on modules or services, and converting large numbers of early adopters to high-end or broader deployments.
Offering (Product) Strategy: We evaluated the degree to which the vendor's product road map reflects demand trends and opportunities to create demand in the market, and to fill gaps or weaknesses. We also looked at how the vendor develops relationships and partnerships with other vendors providing complementary products or services (market analysis, moderation, community development, syndication and content sharing).
Business Model: We looked at the levels of investment needed to achieve profitability and revenue growth, the balance of service and license revenue, evidence of success with repeatable revenue (subscription licensing, for example) and low-cost distribution, development and support (for example, using open-source licensing). We also looked for exploration of innovative licensing and pricing models.
Vertical/Industry Strategy: We considered whether a vendor has specific functions, modules or additions that provide specialized support for specific industries.
Innovation: We looked at the degree to which the vendor invests in R&D directed toward the tools and at the vendor's "creative energy" — for example:
  • A commitment to new browser-based client technologies (in particular, Ajax).
  • Adoption of not just a service-oriented architecture but one with a strong Web-oriented architecture flavor.
  • Movement toward full access to internal data via representational state transfer (REST) interfaces and XML data streams.
  • Social network analysis.
  • Participation metrics and analysis.
  • Activity tracking.
  • Adaptive people and content recommendations.
Geographic Strategy: We examined the vendor's strategy to direct resources, skills and offerings to meet the specific needs of regions outside the corporate headquarters' location, directly or through partners, channels and subsidiaries, as appropriate for that geography and market.
Table 2 shows weightings for our evaluation criteria.
Table 2. Completeness of Vision Evaluation Criteria
Evaluation Criteria
Market Understanding
Marketing Strategy
Sales Strategy
Offering (Product) Strategy
Business Model
Vertical/Industry Strategy
Geographic Strategy
Source: Gartner (August 2011)


The Magic Quadrant features only two Leaders: Jive and Lithium. The small number of Leaders indicates that this market is still at an early stage of development. These vendors have established themselves in the market with widely-used social software and collaboration offerings. They have recognized user needs in this market early, have significant market presence, and have succeeded in delivering attractive suites with broad capabilities in offerings that include both services and software.


The two vendors in the Challengers quadrant are the stalwarts of the collaboration market: Microsoft and IBM. Their offerings have the potential to make them Leaders, but currently lack a specific focus on the requirements of the EFSS market.


The three Visionaries — Drupal-Acquia, Liferay and Telligent — demonstrate strong understanding of current and future market trends, such as the importance of a flexible, transparent user experience, as well as the value of mutual reinforcement between tools that encourage user contribution and tools that facilitate bottom-up formation of groups and organizational structures. Their products and product road maps exhibit innovation, especially in architecture and lightweight integration, while their marketing and R&D efforts align with the open-source ecosystem. Visionaries have not exhibited the scope of delivery of Challengers or Leaders, but they have demonstrated vision across a range of capabilities.

Niche Players

The 11 Niche Players are Adobe, Demand Media, Ektron, EPiServer, Huddle, Igloo, INgage Networks, MindTouch, Mzinga, ONEsite and OpenText. They provide useful, focused technology, understand changing market dynamics, and work to evolving their product capabilities. However, they are held back by narrow functions, a product road map that lacks urgency, or the absence of an innovative growth strategy. Many of these smaller vendors may enjoy success relative to their size, but they must exploit every opportunity to grow and establish their positions before their competitive advantage erodes. As the social software market continues to mature, pockets of specialization may solidify. Therefore, some smaller vendors may choose to focus on niche markets serving specific industries or supporting specific activities. Many of these vendors will be unlikely to break out of the Niche Players quadrant, even though they may continue to have a viable business.

Vendor Strengths and Cautions


A Niche Player, Adobe entered this market by acquiring Day Software in July 2010. CQ5 (the heart of Day's and now Adobe's technology) combines Web content management (WCM) and social and collaborative capabilities running on top of a standards-based, enterprise-class content repository (CRX). CQ5 is a key component in Adobe's broader customer experience management platform strategy.
  • Functionality: CQ5 offers a long list of features, including shared and published calendars, multiple moderation modes, rich media and document sharing, ratings and reviews, gadgets and user profiles.
  • Standards: CQ5 makes extensive use of standards such as OpenID, OpenSocial, Shindig and JSR 286.
  • Focus: The architecture is highly scalable, designed to support Web-class use cases either on premises or via cloud deployment.
  • Market limitation: CQ5 is viable where Adobe technology is the enterprise's WCM standard, but users standardized on other WCM software should look elsewhere. Adobe's scalable architecture can make it too complex and expensive for smaller deployments.
  • References: These are not uniformly positive in their view of Adobe's CQ5 product and support quality, suggesting that more attention is needed.
  • Vision: CQ5's tight linkages with Adobe Online Marketing Suite and Adobe Test&Target may make it better suited for social CRM applications.

Demand Media

Demand Media, a Niche Player, appears in the Magic Quadrant for the first time this year. It is an online media company focused on media, retail and consumer products. Demand Media's social software capabilities are based on its Pluck platform, which provides its clients with a range of hosted external social software capabilities and community development, promotion and moderation services.
  • Market presence: Demand Media has acquired many well-known consumer companies and brands as customers (including the National Football League, Kraft Foods and AARP) and provides the social software tools that enable these brands to build and support external social communities. Demand Media also provides technologies and services that are beyond the scope of social software.
  • Vision: In addition to the traditional professional services offerings common to this market, Demand Media provides services to moderate discussions and directly manage communities.
  • Functionality: Demand Media provides "white box" social functionality that integrates with its clients' existing Web properties and that can leverage other products and services provided by Demand Media. Pluck also provides six software development kits (SDKs), including Java and .NET SDKs, to integrate with mobile and desktop applications, as well as integration with Facebook.
  • Viability: Demand Media reported FY10 revenue of approximately $252 million and a net loss of approximately $5 million; this follows a net loss of approximately $22 million in FY09. However, the company did show revenue growth during the same periods, and issued an initial public offering in 2011.
  • Vision: Demand Media focuses primarily on business-to-consumer interactions with external users and customers. It is less appropriate for project-oriented business-to-business interactions or internal deployments.
  • Scale: Pluck is designed for large, consumer-oriented communities. Smaller users or other those looking to launch small, single-purpose communities will find it less appropriate.


Acquia is in the Visionaries quadrant because of its use of the open-source model to drive development, adoption and popularity, while providing commercial support and enterprise services. Drupal and the Drupal Commons distribution are freely available under a General Public License (GPL) open-source software license. Acquia sells products and services to support and host Drupal websites.
  • Community development: Drupal is proven in large, high-profile deployments. It has an active 600,000-member developer community, a track record of community support and a growing ecosystem of service providers. Open-source communities are typically larger and more active development communities than those found at proprietary vendors.
  • Viability: Acquia is a venture-capital-funded organization that offers a commercially supported version of Drupal, and is headed by the founder of Drupal, putting it very close to the open-source project's activities. Acquia partners with more than 250 consulting and development organizations to provide a range of services including community strategy, Web strategy, design, implementation, development and performance tuning.
  • Product road map: Acquia intends to launch an open "app store" during 2H11, along with administrator and end-user privacy controls on user profile information. Drupal Commons will add options for designs and layouts to provide flexibility without additional customization or configuration, making adoption and installation easier and faster.
  • Community development: Modules from third parties are a source of strength, but quality can be variable. Their use requires careful evaluation and ongoing support by engaging directly with the developer community or through the services of consulting and support organizations such as Acquia.
  • Features: Acquia has yet to add native support for mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry, and for Android apps.
  • Support: Acquia is growing in terms of numbers of employees, revenue and partner ecosystem, but, as a relatively small vendor, it has limited abilities to meet the requirements of large or particularly demanding projects. References mentioned the degree of effort required for implementation and a shortage of qualified developers.


Ektron, a Niche Player, provides a single platform for managing corporate websites, communities and social workspaces. During 2010, the company invested in expanding its technology and geographic reach. Consider Ektron when looking for a single platform for managing corporate websites, communities and social workspaces.
  • Community development: The Ektron developer community has more than 7,000 registered users. Ektron Exchange is a code- and widget-sharing site where Ektron employees, partners and customers share add-ons.
  • Ecosystem: Ektron has a well-designed partner program that gives it an extensive global partner network. Its Partner Portal supports an established partner management methodology for system integrators, digital agencies, and technology, training and translation partners worldwide.
  • References: Ektron received positive comments from references for its ability to consistently move its product forward and use of an open .NET framework with well-documented APIs that allows customers to make modifications as needed.
  • Visibility: Ektron needs to increase its visibility as a collaboration and social software vendor independently of its reputation in WCM.
  • Integration: To keep expanding into the collaboration market, Ektron must continue to work on integration across the modules of its product offerings.
  • Features: Ektron has yet to add native support for mobile devices such as iPhone, iPad and BlackBerry, and for Android apps.


EPiServer's Relate Public Edition focuses on managing user-generated content and can be used to create social communities or to provide social facilities to public-facing websites. The company, which was acquired by a European private equity firm in late 2010, is in the Niche Players quadrant.
  • Technology: The product's Microsoft-oriented gadget architecture allows quick introduction of new features based on the underlying content management and e-commerce platform. Standard gadgets include moderation, abuse reporting and community activities.
  • Ecosystem: The large developer community among implementation partners, particularly in Europe, shares new developments in an open-source model.
  • Product: EPiServer's products include specific features such as personalization, activity tracking and moderation designed to appeal to marketers, community managers and website developers.
  • Ecosystem: EPiServer's product is primarily sold through consulting companies, creative agencies and system integrators. It will be less appealing to users who want to implement the package themselves.
  • Platform: Combining the social features of Relate with EPiServer CMS, the company's flagship WCM product, is a large part of EPiServer's strategy. It will be less appealing to customers looking to combine social media with other WCM products.
  • Visibility: EPiServer has limited penetration outside Europe, with 60% of its revenue coming from Sweden.


Huddle enters the Magic Quadrant as a Niche Player. Huddle provides file-sharing, project management and collaboration services to teams that cross departmental and organizational boundaries. It has achieved its strongest penetration in government, creative and professional service industries where ease of use and secure file-sharing capabilities are particularly valued.
  • Functionality: Huddle offers functionality such as project management, Web/audio conferencing and whiteboarding that most of its competitors do not. In the U.K. it also offers a private cloud deployment accredited for use with restricted government data.
  • Vision: Huddle is confident enough about user adoption that it provides a guarantee (against three months' usage fees) that 100% of the target user base will actively use the product.
  • Integration: Huddle can be used from within business-oriented social networking sites like LinkedIn and Ning, to extend its reach and provide more business-oriented capabilities to these public network sites.
  • Functionality: Some features common to most competitors, such as tagging, surveys, an app store and full wiki functionality, are not supported.
  • Viability: Huddle is one of the smaller vendors in this Magic Quadrant in terms of revenue and number of employees.
  • Adoption: Although Huddle has several large customers, most customers use its offerings with fewer users than is the case for many offerings from competitors in this Magic Quadrant.


IBM enters the Magic Quadrant as a Challenger. It offers several products to address the EFSS market under the Customer Experience Suite banner, primarily IBM Connections and WebSphere Portal Server. Other IBM products such as Lotus Quickr and Sametime can optionally be integrated with these to provide document management and real-time communications functions respectively.
  • Viability and ecosystem: IBM has extensive resources, well-developed channels and a large ecosystem of system integrators and third-party suppliers to support its offerings.
  • Scalability: IBM has long experience of dealing with large customers with demanding requirements. It can point to several examples of very large and complex implementations.
  • Vision: Social business is identified by IBM as an important part of its strategic future. IBM has conducted extensive research into how organizations need to change to become social businesses.
  • Complexity: Because IBM relies on several products to address EFSS requirements, each one a big product in its own right, implementations can become large and complex, even for seemingly straightforward requirements.
  • Consulting: IBM's products typically require extensive installation and customization work, usually performed by consulting business partners.
  • Technology: Users report that the user interface can be difficult for users to get used to, and that product installation and integration are harder than they expected.


Igloo enters the Magic Quadrant as a Niche Player. The company has expanded its visibility and reputation as an enterprise vendor. Igloo has demonstrated traction in the healthcare and technology sectors, delivering a solution that supports both internal and external collaboration.
  • Viability: Igloo generated positive momentum during 2010 with significant growth in total revenue, deal size, customer acquisitions and subscription licenses. It invested to bolster its presence in the U.S. and Europe, as well as in the channel to expand its reach.
  • Functionality: Igloo is a pure SaaS vendor that issues regular bimonthly releases. Recent enhancements include social workflow and moderation, as well as out-of-the-box integration with enterprise applications such as Microsoft SharePoint and Plans include a new version of its desktop client with offline file synchronization and more extensive native mobile platform support.
  • Ecosystem: Igloo recently formed a partnership with an open-source Web conferencing provider to release the first iteration of real-time collaboration functionality.
  • Visibility: Although Igloo has large corporate customers, it needs to continue to improve its visibility and reputation as an enterprise software vendor.
  • Features: Igloo does not currently offer offline capabilities, and there is no "app store" with third-party add-ons. Users who want extensions to the Igloo platform must use technical APIs, the partner network or Igloo's professional services team.
  • Implementation: Non-technical user references cited complexity issues when trying to customize the product beyond what is possible with configuration settings and built-in templates.

INgage Networks

INgage Networks is a Niche Player. Its core strength lies in externally facing customer communities, but it also has competency in broader solutions for connecting employees and partners.
  • Strategy: INgage offers a service framework for designing and implementing a community strategy. Customers report that the company has strong professional services.
  • Function: INgage's product has strong analytics with an underlying data warehouse, reporting and online analytical processing engine.
  • Industry focus: The product has specific offerings for particular industries, especially government.
  • Viability: INgage has limited experience with very large deployments of over 100,000 users.
  • Focus: INgage's offering is available only as SaaS, and it has limited presence outside North America.
  • Ecosystem: Most INgage customers use the company's own delivery services. Limited availability of these services can constrain projects.


A Leader in this Magic Quadrant, Jive continues to gain enterprise-scale customers, extend its technology vision and increase its revenue.
  • Viability: Jive's revenue grew to an estimated $70 million in 2010, up from $30 million in 2009 (Gartner estimates). The company has announced several notable board members and another round of venture capital funding in anticipation of a widely expected (but unconfirmed) initial public offering in the next 12 months.
  • Partnerships: Jive has extended its focus beyond Jive-centric internal and external social collaboration and announced connectors for Facebook, LinkedIn and other public social sites. Jive has also addressed what Gartner believed to be a concern last year in terms of limited global system integration and technology partnerships. It can now point to partnerships with companies such as Accenture, CSC, Deloitte, Infosys and Logica; digital agency relationships with Dachis Group, Razorfish, Headshift and Syncapse; and relationships with Alcatel-Lucent, Google and SAP for unified communications (UC) and analytics.
  • Vision: Jive has bolstered its social software vision with several acquisitions, including Proximal Labs (identity management and analysis), Filtrbox and OffiSync (Microsoft Office integration). Jive has also become more pragmatic in terms of coexistence with enterprise and desktop applications and UC, having realized that Jive What Matters may not be the desktop of choice for all its enterprise customers.
  • Volatility: Jive is an early-stage, venture-capital-funded company and relatively small by the standards of enterprise software vendors, although larger than many of its pure-play competitors. In addition to the volatility inherent in the social software market, Jive may be impacted more than smaller, "point solution" vendors if major infrastructure software or hardware vendors enter the social software market.
  • Global presence: Jive still faces a challenge to develop a European presence, with more than 80% of its revenue coming from North America, and some European regions adopting social software more slowly than others. Asia/Pacific's contribution to Jive's revenue remains very small, and the company may require local partnerships to succeed there.
  • Applications and deployments: Jive's Apps Market was delayed by almost a year from its expected rollout in 3Q10, which in turn has delayed technology partnerships dependent on that channel. The time and resources required for enterprise-scale social software deployments may deflect some customers toward competitors with smaller point solutions that can show more immediate results with smaller upfront investments.


Liferay is in the Visionaries quadrant. It offers an open-source, portal-centric platform for those looking to develop and integrate social interaction and community support in a flexible environment.
  • Integration: Collaboration and social interaction capabilities are offered as an integral part of Liferay's portal platform, which also includes built-in content management (with hooks to alternative systems) as well as Microsoft Office and SharePoint integration.
  • Ecosystem: Liferay has a healthy developer and partner ecosystem with thousands of developers and an active marketplace.
  • Strategy: Liferay is one of the few remaining vendors in the portal space and is seeking to extend its position into collaboration and networking. The open-source, low-cost, support-based model (at approximately $17,000 per server for unlimited use) is attractive to many buyers.
  • Focus: Although there is some evidence that Liferay Portal is being used for externally facing communities in the context of large portal deployments, Liferay is still relatively unknown in this market.
  • Customer experience: The portal platform's capabilities add flexibility and power when customization is needed, but it also takes longer to deploy. Liferay has less experience in supporting social initiatives, and one customer commented on the organization's relative immaturity in this respect.
  • Innovation: Despite many enhancements, including flexible profiles, and some analytics tools to uncover "social equity," Liferay could do more in terms of mobility, offline support, recommendations and advanced social analytics.


Lithium remains a Leader. It provides a hosted community and associated applications primarily to host private-label social communities that target the telecommunications, retail, hospitality and gaming sectors.
  • Viability: Lithium continued to grow in 2010. Gartner estimates that it achieved 60% growth in 2010 with revenue of $25 million to $30 million.
  • Functionality: Lithium provides hosted communities with advanced reputation and moderation functions. Lithium includes launch and success managers who help establish goals and measure success factors for a social project. The company has a partnership with Ipsos for additional use cases in market research, as well as partnerships with Adobe Omniture (for social media monitoring) and Lithium's road map for 2011 includes, most notably, bringing reputation, influencer identification analytics and different engagement approaches (such as contests) to Facebook via a Facebook application suite.
  • Customer support: References consistently identified customer-focused and proactive communications as a strength of Lithium.
  • Focus: The majority of Lithium's implementations are for large-scale marketing and customer service initiatives. Customers do also use Lithium for smaller-scale use cases and those outside CRM, but these are less of a priority for Lithium.
  • Recommendations: Lithium's analytics are effective at identifying, reporting and alerting important changes in a community. But Lithium's analytics should also suggest specific actions to take when things change, such as the engagement level of a "superfan."
  • Product reviews: Given the industries Lithium is targeting, product review and rating functionality could be improved.


SharePoint is Microsoft's primary platform for EFSS. It is aimed at both internal and external communities (and ties into Exchange, Office and Lync). Microsoft, a Challenger in this Magic Quadrant, has also experimented with TownHall, an Azure-based cloud service primarily for use by governments and political entities.
  • Market presence: SharePoint has the broadest market penetration, in terms of the number of companies adopting it, of any product in this Magic Quadrant.
  • Ecosystem: Microsoft's platform focus, and the presence of a broad and deep ecosystem of developers and system integrators around SharePoint, strengthens its position in the EFSS market. Without its extensive ecosystem, Microsoft would be rated far less positively.
  • Simplification: A common toolset for EFSS and internally used social software applications has strong market appeal, because many IT organizations seek opportunities to reduce the number of vendors they deal with.
  • Innovation: Microsoft was touting SharePoint 2010 to its customers and prospects in 2009 or earlier, and its look and feel can appear dated to users. Most of Microsoft's innovation with SharePoint has been aimed at users inside the enterprise, not at externally facing uses.
  • Complexity: Microsoft has not outlined how it will unify its mainstream on-premises enterprise technology (such as SharePoint) with its much newer "cloud architecture" approach (such as TownHall and Microsoft Azure). We expect that its mainstream "cloud" technology (Office 365, which is unrelated to Azure) will be used primarily in the workplace, with limited EFSS use cases.
  • References: Microsoft reference customers expressed concerns about the technical complexity of SharePoint, the need for customized programming and system integration, as well as limitations in Microsoft's ability to respond effectively to their support requests.


MindTouch is in the Visionaries quadrant. Its software is usually deployed to support collaborative documentation creation, often providing the "glue" for dynamic integration with other systems.
  • Integration: MindTouch offers pre-integration with several business applications to enable documents, video and data to be available in a socially enabled environment constructed around dynamic documents. The most common use cases for MindTouch involve collaborative processes around dynamic, complex documentation.
  • Customer experience: Feedback from several customers with large deployments was generally positive. They commented on the company's responsiveness, the quality of its support team, and the configurability and ease of use of its product.
  • Ecosystem: Developers are contributing to localization and other development efforts though an open-source version of the product and a partner alliance program.
  • Viability: MindTouch needs to enhance its reputation and ability to support large enterprise deployments.
  • Focus: The emphasis on collaborative dynamic documents is very appealing to many MindTouch customers, but the product needs to evolve in terms of social interaction and social analytics in order to support more use cases.
  • Customer experience: Some customers commented on license complexity and the growing pains associated with a relatively small organization of fewer than 100 employees.


Mzinga is a Niche Player that provides a platform and applications to host and manage internal and externally facing communities. It targets sectors such as media/advertising, publishing, insurance and banking.
  • Scale: Mzinga OmniSocial is used by over 40 million users in 160 countries. Over 60% of its use cases are for sales, marketing and customer service roles.
  • Functional breadth: Mzinga has a wider range of applications than similar providers. Applications include discussions, blogs, comments, ratings, polls, surveys, events, chat, social profiles, mobile support, video and event management.
  • Partners: Mzinga partners with interactive agencies such as Avenue A and Digital Influence Group. Technology partners include Kaltura for embedded video and media management, iLinc for Web conferencing and collaboration, Composica for team-based collaborative authoring, and Terremark for cloud-based hosting services. Mzinga has also partnered with ORC International, a leading global research company, to deliver full-service online market research communities.
  • Customer satisfaction: Although customer retention is around 90%, Mzinga's overall satisfaction scores were lower than for other vendors. Reference customers mentioned a need for reporting and graphical user interface improvements (which Mzinga has been working on), as well as shortened timelines for new implementation support. Reference customers also mentioned that Mzinga is not keeping pace with its competitors.
  • Growth: Gartner estimates that Mzinga's total revenue was $30 million to $35 million in 2010, and Gartner estimates a 20% growth rate in 2010. This is below the average of its direct competitors (35% to 40% growth in 2010).
  • Social analytics: At the time of writing, Mzinga does not provide its own external social monitoring/analytics capabilities, unlike many of its competitors. It plans to launch its own product later in 2011.


ONEsite enters the Magic Quadrant as a Niche Player. Its SocialCore community platform focuses on adding community and customer interaction capabilities to public-facing, brand-oriented websites. In addition to providing software, ONEsite commonly works with clients to build and operate their customer communities.
  • References: ONEsite powers communities for several high-profile sites, including eBay, the National Association for Stock Car Auto Racing (NASCAR) and Fox Broadcasting.
  • Functionality: ONEsite has developed specific functions for brands and publishers that are not available from many of its competitors. These include e-commerce capabilities, advertising tie-ins and contests.
  • Flexibility: Users report that ONEsite is an easy organization to work with, and that it is ready to work on innovative solutions.
  • Resource constraints: ONEsite is a relatively small organization, with limited relationships with service providers. Its internal resources have been a limiting factor when providing functionality and customer support.
  • Usability: Users report that the product retains several usability issues that are proving difficult to iron out.
  • Industry focus: ONEsite concentrates on consumer brands and the media industry. It is not appropriate for all industries.


OpenText, a Niche Player, is an established and financially stable enterprise content management vendor with customers in the financial services, government, utilities, media and healthcare sectors. The company has expanded its product breadth with the OpenText Social Communities product for the EFSS use case. It provides social software capability for internal users and external customers.
  • Viability: OpenText is financially stable and has a base of customers and revenue from which it can expand its presence in the social software market.
  • Integration: OpenText Social Communities can benefit from integration with OpenText's Content Server, which provides records management and content library services.
  • Scalability: The company has reference customers in industries such as government and utilities that support large populations of external users, and a CPU-tiered licensing model that encourages deployments to large user bases.
  • Focus: Despite recent investments in platform rationalization around several social software offerings, these offerings account for a relatively small percentage of OpenText's overall revenue. OpenText needs to do more to build its presence and credibility in this market.
  • Vision: OpenText's holistic vision centered on content management may not be appropriate for some use cases, or for companies already committed to alternatives for their content management needs.
  • Strategy: OpenText's product portfolio has been built up over time, mostly through acquisitions. This has resulted in overlapping product lines and the potential for confusion about which product to use in a specific situation.


Telligent is in the Visionaries quadrant. Telligent Community is used for creating branded customer, partner or prospect communities, while Telligent Enterprise is used for employee communities, as well as for project and team collaboration. Both products are based on the Telligent Evolution platform.
  • Ecosystem: In addition to more than two dozen service partners, Telligent has an active third-party marketplace and an application partner network including some companies that offer custom solutions on top of the Telligent Evolution platform (such as Limeade for employee healthcare and weListen for innovation management). Telligent has notable value-added resellers, including Accenture Interactive, RDA and Booz Allen.
  • Functionality: Telligent Evolution includes a broad range of capabilities for content, sophisticated analytics (including tracking of different user types to understand the social "fingerprints" of both the entire community and each unique participant) and a recommendation engine. Telligent has basic social-monitoring capabilities for social media environments like Twitter, and two-way content synchronization to enable participants in a Facebook community to receive notifications of activities within that community.
  • Viability: Gartner estimates that Telligent increased its overall revenue by 30% in 2010, to around $17 million.
  • Strategy: Despite its growth, Telligent may lack the relationships with potential customers, and the installed base, that larger competitors with broader product portfolios can draw on in this market.
  • Customer experience: Feedback from reference customers was positive overall, with praise for products, user experience, consistency and "hyper-configurability." However, some customers pointed to lapses in support responsiveness and long upgrade cycles. Telligent has outlined specific organizational and process improvements that it has made to address these issues.
  • Architecture: Telligent has strong ties to Microsoft technologies, including Microsoft .NET and SQL Server. This may limit its appeal to organizations that do not rely on Microsoft architecture.