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IBM Connections a leader in the Gartner Magic Quadrant….again
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Gartner Magic Quadrant

Gartner’s report, available here, highlights that IBM, Microsoft and Jive are the clear leaders in the enterprise social software market.

While I work for IBM, the following is my opinion on what that means to you as an organisation who might be looking to implement such a system.

On the surface the three systems appear to present broadly the same features, but in fact each have their strengths and weaknesses within their product set.  Gartner highlights Connections’ strengths as:

  • Viability: IBM has a long history as a dominant provider for collaboration, messaging and communications solutions, and remains one of the better-established company’s in the ESN space. It has extensive research and development capabilities and also cultivates strategic relationships at very senior levels, both in user organizations and with partners.
  • Strategy: IBM’s strategy spans beyond typical ESN positioning to broadly catalyze the value of Connections within its Social Business and Smarter Workforce initiatives. It also emphasizes the role of other assets it brings to its solutions, such as IBM Design Thinking, IBM Bluemix, IBM Watson, IBM Kenexa and its large partner ecosystem.
  • Functionality: IBM Connections includes a variety of capabilities such as content management and enterprise file synchronization and sharing (EFSS) that make it a comprehensive solution for organizations looking to deliver an all-in-one destination for employees to share information and collaborate around work activities. Its ability to integrate with WebSphere Portal Server enables organizations to extend their enterprise portal (if that is the preferred employee destination site) with social experiences.

But amongst the weaknesses, it states:

  • Complexity: IBM’s breadth of capabilities, number of products, and deployment options can introduce complexity in terms of decision criteria, costs, configuration and support needs for on-premises deployments (versus cloud-based).
  • Integration: IBM positions Connections as a place where people get work done. For example, work activities from business systems (such as sales, marketing, customer service, and HR applications) can be brought into Connections via OpenSocial interfaces. However, integration to surface social elements from Connections into those business applications is not as strong “out of the box” as it needs to be. While developers can use the Connections’ APIs to deliver that type of user experience (or rely on third-party ISVs), IBM needs its own prebuilt integrations for users that prefer to have social interaction natively embedded in the applications they use during the flow of collaborative work rather than switch to a social platform.
  • Focus: IBM is heavily marketing Verse as its next-generation business email solution. While Verse has many synergies with Connections, there is also some risk that customers will view the marketing messages as a shift away from its ESN efforts.

On the point about complexity, I really don’t understand how they have arrived at this conclusion.  IBM offers two cloud offerings – S1 and S2 – which offer a full feature set, and a more restricted one for those who don’t need all the bells and whistles.  For the on-premises scenario, there is one offering – IBM Connections.  You can supplement this with your own existing other systems for instant messaging, document management, etc.  We don’t require you to rip out your entire IT infrastructure just because you chose IBM Connections.  I wish this was the case with the competitors.

Their conclusion about integration is primarily and opinion and not fact.  “Not as strong as it needs to be”, is very subjective and something I would encourage anyone basing their decision one way or the other to put to the test first.  In fact IBM Connections open structure and standards-based approach means that virtually anything can be integrated.  We don’t demand that you use particular frameworks, particular operating systems or approaches.

Lastly, focus.  It’s true that IBM has been very focused on building Verse to be a completely new experience for email.  What Gartner seems to have missed here, however, is that the build-out of Verse is very much to Connections’ advantage.  It’s easy to create blog posts, pick up files from Connections and off-load attachments you receive into your personal file store.  Taking Verse in isolation misses the whole IBM strategy around collaboration: email is one of the ways you get things done, but not the only one.  You should be able to reach over to wherever the information is and get at it so you can get on with your work more productively.  For Gartner to suggest that there is a risk that customers might view the marketing messages as a move away from Connections merely highlights, to me at least, that they do not understand IBM’s strategy.

As I said, these are my opinions for what they are worth.



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http://alanghamilton.com/ibmconnections/ibm-connections-a-leader-in-the-gartner-magic-quadrant-again/
Oct 30, 2015
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