Social Depth Platforms & The Death of Social Business Silos
by Tom Wentworth
Today, Forrester Research released the Q3 2013 Forrester Wave: Social Depth Platforms. Acquia’s Drupal Commons was identified as a Leader in the Wave, alongside Social Business Software stalwarts like Jive Software. It’s the first time Acquia has been identified as a Leader by a top analyst like Forrester and Gartner. It’s also a milestone achievement for open source as Drupal Commons is now one of the few (maybe the only?) open source business applications to lead a Forrester Wave. Here's my favorite quote from Forrester in the report:
Customers touted Acquia Drupal Commons for its flexibility, ease of use, and high return on investment.
Being identified as a Leader is a great validation of all the hard work the Drupal community put into Drupal Commons 3.0, a big update to the product which launched back in February. But I believe this also signals a more important shift in the technology market - the end of the legacy Social Business Software category.
The answer lies in the word “Depth”. It’s a subtle but important addition to this year’s version of the Forrester Wave. Depth implies that social deepens engagement across the entire spectrum of digital channels, not just a standalone social community as was the case in the past. As Forrester puts it, “Social depth platforms are technologies that help marketers deploy online communities and related social capabilities on their company-owned websites and microsites.”
The legacy Social Business Software vendors all built products for standalone social communities, disconnected from the rest of the digital customer experience. But as this Forrester report clearly underscores, marketers are looking to deliver integrated digital experiences, not just siloed social platforms.
That’s why I think Social Business Software vendors like Jive Software are on the decline. They don’t offer the breadth (or depth?) of capabilities needed to deliver an integrated digital experience. Forrester seems to agree that this market is in rapid transition.
The Social Depth Platform space is rapidly evolving as marketers seek to consolidate multiple technology platforms that overlap in features and functionality and therefore drain internal resources... These platforms will continue to become more robust and integrated, eventually eliminating the need for multiple, disparate technologies.
Acquia has been well ahead of the intersection of content management and social communities. We call it “The Three C’s - Content, Community, and Commerce”. And Drupal is the only unified platform in the market that addresses all three.
Forrester recognizes this important point too, as Acquia is now the only vendor to appear in both the Forrester Wave: Web Content Management For Digital Customer Experience and the Forrester Wave: Social Depth Platforms.
I believe that the legacy Social Business Software category is dying because the market has moved beyond fragmented customer experiences. The digital experiences of the future will seamlessly blend content, community, and commerce, while integrating with all of the other related technology applications that play a role in customer experience (CRM, marketing automation, analytics, etc).
None of the other Social Depth Platform vendors can compete with Drupal Commons when it comes to customization and integration. In fact, Drupal Commons received the highest score (by a wide margin) in the integration category in the Forrester Wave. Products like Jive were simply not designed to be extensible. From my conversations with former Jive customers, they often experience significant cost and heartache trying to extend the product beyond the basics of discussion boards, forums, ratings+reviews, and blogs.
And customization and integration are clear strengths for Drupal Commons, according to Forrester.
One of Acquia’s primary strengths is its large and active developer ecosystem, which includes comprehensive sets of software development kits (SDKs), APIs, and about 20,000 Drupal modules (approximately 500 modules for Drupal Commons alone) that allow a marketer to easily customize a community or site.
The extensibility and customization of Drupal Commons comes through open source and the extensive community behind Drupal Commons and Drupal. With Drupal, chances are “there’s a module for that”. And if there isn’t, developers have access to an API to build it. Legacy Social Business Software platforms like Jive Software weren’t designed with extensibility in mind - like having an iPhone without an App Store.
Acquia has seen a surge of companies looking to move away from Jive to Drupal Commons. If you are using Jive or one of the other legacy Social Business Software products, email me at tom . wentworth at acquia dot com. I’d love to spend 15 minutes with you talking about how Acquia can help your company deliver integrated digital experiences, not social business silos.