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Beyond Social Business Software

Acquia issued a press release today contrasting Social Publishing platforms represented by Drupal and the growing number of Social Business Software products. At first glance it would seem that we don’t like those products, but that’s not the case. The products have some nice capabilities and many organizations are using them daily. What is hard to understand is why businesses are spending hundreds of thousands and sometimes millions of dollars deploying them, when they could spend a fraction of that! The better known Social Business Software products contain a small subset of the capabilities of Drupal, and I suspect, other open source social publishing systems that merge social media capabilities with web content management systems.

So why are some companies adopting these limited, niche solutions to address the current challenge of managing brands in a web 2.0 world? There are three reasons I could think of:

1) They simply do not know about Drupal
2) They don’t trust open source
3) They are listening to old fashioned FUD and fibs from software vendors

If businesses don’t know about Drupal, it’s our bad. Open source communities generally don’t do much marketing and don’t specifically target the enterprise, so that’s understandable. But that’s why we created Acquia, so if awareness is the issue, Acquia needs to do a better job. We aim to do with the help of our partners and the Drupal community. We need to spread the word about sites like Zappos, the popular online clothing / shoe store in process of being acquired by Amazon, who uses Drupal as a key part of their community strategy.

If businesses don’t trust open source, it’s their bad. Open source is well entrenched in most IT organizations and virtually every proprietary software vendor uses pieces of open source to facilitate their time to market. If security or reliability is the concern, look no further than the recent US Dept. of Defense memo on open source, which CNET blogger Matt Asay comments on here.

And lastly if businesses are hearing fibs and FUD from the vendors offering the proprietary Social Business Software products, shame on the software providers playing this game AND the businesses for taking their word on it. The world has changed. In the world of social publishing, open source solutions like Drupal are leading the charge on innovation, not trailing. Kathleen Reidy, an analyst for the 451 Group highlights this in a recent presentation she did at the AIIM conference. Traditional WCM players are converging with niche social media players, creating the Social Publishing marketplace, where Drupal is leading the charge together with Wordpress.