Saturday 6 September 2008

Expanded enterprise social software vendor taxonomy

Hat tip to Patti Anklam for pointing to an overview of vendors in the enterprise social software space by CMS Watch's Tony Byrne. This "vendor taxonomy" divides the world of enterprise social software into the following areas:

  • Platform vendors;
  • Social software suites;
  • Wiki and blogging (and forum) software;
  • White-label community services (e.g. Ning, Lithium); and
  • Public networks (e.g. LinkedIn, Facebook).

However, IMHO this taxonomy misses out a set of other important elements in the enterprise social computing stack. I think in part this might be because CMS Watch's definition of enterprise social software is:

"tools for collaboration and networking within and beyond the enterprise."

However, I think underlying this definition is a vendor and content management system focus (as you might expect). To complete the vendor taxonomy I would expand this list to include other enterprise social computing tools and systems that enable it:

  • Chat and microblogging;
  • Presence and Activity (yes, there is an overlap with social networking tools);
  • Metaverses;
  • "Findability"; and
  • Enterprise RSS (the Cinderella of enterprise social computing!).

There are probably more things we could add to this list but fundamentally I think this is part of the problem - an application-centric view of the social software space is a flawed model for a taxonomy - how do we decide what is and what is out? The application-centric view also really only lends itself to a tactical response to enterprise social computing, where as an Enterprise Web 2.0 (or a Web 2.0 Oriented Intranet) architecture approach will eventually provide a much more satisfactory approach in the longer term. In other words, picking a platform vs a suite vs a wiki is only half the story of building a true enterprise social computing environment. This is something I discussed in my Intranet 2.0 workshop and perhaps in another post I will try to provide an expanded taxonomy based on the concepts from that presentation.

Incidentally Mike Gotta has a great post about presence that I thinks adds weight to argument for an architecture view - otherwise we will find ourselves in the uncomfortable position of trying to include unified communications into the enterprise social computing mix when really it should simply augment the Intranet 2.0 infrastructure.

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