Monthly Archives: July 2010

Becoming a Leader in Enterprise Social Network Platforms

The IDC published a report on Worldwide Social Platforms Revenue by Vendor, for the period ending 2009, that covered market share and revenue as a basis:

This IDC study examines the social platforms market for the period from 2007 to 2009. Revenue and market share of the leading vendors are provided for 2009.

Interestingly, the revenue growth, totaling over $369M, is being compared against the starting point of zero (0) for some of these companies. So growth in the 100′s of percent is only expected.  My readership has grown by these same types of numbers if I use null as the starting point.

I was also cautious of how they defined and perceived social software.  I found this answer in another article from IBM Press.

IDC characterizes social platform software as “promoting transparent and authentic two-way dialogue that is open, synchronous, and unstructured.”

Without reading the full $3,000 report for IDC, it seems some of the software solutions listed would not fit into my personal definitions or were not inclusive by any means of the possible choices.  I tend to think there are many that would fit this definition, even those built in house by companies over the years.

Three vendors accounted for 55.8% of the market total, yet saw a decline of .3% in 2009 from 2008.  I would attribute it to the simple matter of demand versus early adopters.  Companies as a whole are not quick on the addition of such social software in the enterprises.  A hesitation is generally made as many see it as a time waster for employees as they compare it to public facing social networks.  Growth numbers for deployment are simply attributed to the groundbreaking movement of this new area of enterprise needs versus existence of any such product.

Interestingly, depending on how you wish to split the numbers, Telligent stated this in their copy of the press release:

According to the IDC study, the three top vendors – Telligent, IBM and Communispace – accounted for 29 percent of the total market in 2009

Yet in others, Microsoft, IBM and Cisco were the top three worldwide leaders.  All of this material was regurgitated across multiple sites from the press release push.  It would be nice to see what software packages from each vendor were included.  I found that IBM only included Lotus Connections and LotusLive Connections, not Quickr, Domino or Sametime.

So does this number and information push your organization to deploy social software solutions to your employees or does it have no bearing in your decision process?

I can’t fit anymore badges, now Twitter badges arrive

Foursquare, Gowalla, the Boy Scouts of America, and now Twitter has badges (through Twadges).  Can this get any more ridiculous?

  • Does anyone care if I was in a swarm, visited Mount Rushmore or can administer CPR?
  • Do we have to get jackets or sashes that we attach these digital badges to?
  • Do you visit the pages of your friends to see what badges they have, or do you use some client just to see where they check in and have no clue what they earned?
  • Can I get free services, coupons or discounts for having specific badges?  This isn’t mayorship, just an icon.

I begin to feel we reached a peak in the desire to achieve such things and are looking for true value in the services we are using.  Badges inherently were built for kids as a sign of learning and have now turned into a game with no winner.  Each time you get close to having all of the possible badges, new ones are announced.  The game never ends.

It becomes like a RPG that adds levels every time someone conquers all there is.  I have a badge for all of the sites giving out badges.  But it wouldn’t be appropriate.

Discovering a new site about to take off

One thing I love about being an early adopter is the discovery of new sites that truly offer me a service I want to use.  One of the disappointments is sites that repeat an existing site with no new service or hesitate in asking for constructive feedback.

While I could begin listing sites I have recently discovered value in, let me first make my quick list of what catches my attention:

  • Does the site offer an informative About page?  How hard is it to give me some actual information, even if you have a closed beta.  Tempt me.  Draw me in.  Give me a want to apply for the beta, wait it out and then dive in
  • Do you make signing up for the beta easy?  Most sites are good at this with a large box asking for your email address with some follow-up email
  • Do you show me samples of what the UI might look like or screenshots of your dream look?  I know it isn’t finished.  Hence the beta tag.  I do not like not knowing what your idea of the site I am about to use will look like.  If you are so early in beta you haven’t gotten that far, let me know.
  • Provide me a way to get in contact for press/blogging/podcasts to get visibility for your site and ask questions.  If you are not ready, that is fine, just give a way to let me ask.  Most of the time I want to have some early talks to blog or podcast about your site.  I know screencasts may not be possible due to the beta, but some early talks might be.
  • Provide a good feedback system or link to one that is made for that purpose.  Some new btea sites make this mistake while others invest in GetSatisfaction (as an example).  An email black hole does not leave any type of impression a user wants.  I need to now you take feedback serious and will comment, reply and note if the suggestion was helpful or even already in the works.
  • Have someone assigned to work the forums/feedback in a reasonable time.  Too often I go to sites to read if someone had the same issue to find that questions have gone unanswered for months.  Not even a tag that is has been considered.
  • Update a simple screenshot or two as the beta progresses
  • Involve your highly active beta users in small group forums/discussions
  • Think superusers to allow you to manage/monitor without investing in more employees (Foursquare did this and fell flat after the first rollout)
  • Post reasonable updates via a blog or newsletter.  Keep my interest.
  • Make the launch exciting and bring in comments and highlights profiles of your top users.  This makes users want to be involved.

I think that is a good summary and high end of what I look for.  If you are building one of these launches, maybe some of those will help.  I enjoy testing the sites, finding ones to enter into my workflow and hopefully promoting you along the way.

Twones closes it doors

Twones was (until today) a way to find music being bookmarked all over the web.   In an email to users, it announced it is shutting it’s doors.  In a nutshell is allowed you to mark and find music from the web and even scrobble it to Last.fm if you chose.  I hardly used the service, as I was ingrained in Last.fm and iTunes already.  Their announcement was more of a merger:

We are sorry to notify you that Twones is closing from 9 July 2010.

The engineering team, founders and technology are now a part of
shuffler.fm (http://blog.shuffler.fm) which will launch in a few
months.

I can imagine the ability to find music in so many places on the web today pretty much means the demise of many of these type of start-ups.  Can one really survive and make a living with the large scale music systems like iTunes blazing a path to devices?  Streaming free music content is always a choice, but even independent artists are making a living with sites like Magnatune.

I think one thing missing, even as Twones added sharing to Twitter, Facebook and more, was the ability to have your friends installing a toolbar into their browser and also sharing every song they find with you.  Not to mention proper tagging of the music itself.

Toolbars are often looked upon as evil or privacy issues sending who knows what data to the web.  I am in no way saying Twones did this, just the opinion of many people is that toolbars used to be spyware or hook into ad type networks.

I hope the new venture for the people behind Twones takes off called Shuffler.fm