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Social Collaboration is growing up: opportunities and challenges for the channel



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November 11, 2010 12:47 pm

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Guest post by Raul Castanon-Martinez, Partner Marketing Manager – End-User Computing

A week ago, Gartner released its 2010 Magic Quadrant for Workplace Social Software report. Key players kept their positions: IBM, Jive and Microsoft remained “Leaders”, Atlassian and OpenText remained “Challengers” and Novell kept its “Niche” player position. There were also some interesting changes, with many “Niche” vendors dropped off the list, probably unable to qualify since Gartner is now asking vendors to provide four references and market presence with at least 15 customers.

This week at Enterprise 2.0 we are seeing changes that seem to mirror those of the Magic Quadrant: the expo floor is not as crowded as it was in Boston just five months ago, with several vendors choosing not to participate this time. Key vendors are jockeying for position, both Novell and Jive have doubled up the floor space of their booth, and IBM, Microsoft and Novell have all made important product announcements prior to or during the conference. A smaller but important player, Clearvale, launched a direct attack on Jive Software with their no jive talkin’ slogan and an interesting blog post published earlier this week, just in time for the opening of the conference.

The changes in Gartner’s Magic Quadrant criteria indicate that Social Collaboration is quickly evolving into a mature market. We are also seeing indicators that it is moving from innovators to early adopters, with more companies adopting Social Collaboration software and vendors working to define their market positioning and differentiate their solutions from other vendors.

Social Collaboration is quickly becoming a standard application for the enterprise, opening many opportunities for the channel. However, these opportunities may be different to what the channel has been doing in the last 15 years. For example, many vendors offer cloud based solutions, which reduce or even eliminate installation and integration services. At the same time, these solutions require from the channel expertise in areas such as security, customization and development, training and business process improvement.

Vendors are aggressively pursuing these opportunities and the market is ready for the next-generation social collaboration solutions. A key element for success will be the evolution of the channel to adapt to these changes in technology and in the market. What are the challenges your company has identified for these market opportunities? How is your company preparing itself for these challenges?

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