Is there a Swiss Army Knife for Enterprise Collaboration?

RSG's Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software survey (get summary here) revealed that SharePoint is not a swiss army knife for enterprise collaboration -- i.e., a single tool that can serve multiple use cases. To be sure, it probably never was.

Still, I find it interesting that many vendors (even those lacking the breadth of functionality typically found in a larger platform like SharePoint) will aggressively promote their solutions as do-it-all-systems that match all the diverse use cases that many organizations have.

The rubber-meets-the-road reality is quite different.

Horses for Courses

Using the data from our industry survey, we crunched the numbers for organizations having more than 1000 employees and found that they are employing multiple social-collaboration software products -- on average, 2.6 in an organization. (For the statistically inclined, the 95% confidence interval is 2.3 to 3.)

This leads to the obvious question: why are organizations deploying three collaboration software products? Firstly, vendors simply can't do it all. The diversity and complexity of collaboration use cases (which has only increased with cloud and mobile technologies) is such that vendors can only support adequately a sub-set of the use cases. 

Swistik Knife by Artist Biju Joze

Figure 1:  You're in for a surprise if you think a social-collaboration software product is like a swiss army knife that holds all the tools you need.  Image: Swistik Knife, installation art by Biju Joze at Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Secondly, despite vendor claims / case studies of enterprise-wide deployments, many implementations remain at the departmental level and different departments could have procured different tools.

What's the Implication for Technology Buyers ?

Technical functionality and features are only parts of the puzzle. You are most likely going to rely on multiple products for meeting your enterprise collaboration requirements. So, don't ignore the integration capabilities of the products you are evaluating. Carefully look under the hood to understand how well they can play with the other systems in your technology stack.

Our in-depth product evaluations can be very handy here.

Other Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software posts

Lessons from the Death of Google Search Appliance

GSA is particularly interesting because it was arguably the first major attempt to lift-and-load consumer technology into the enterprise. Let's review some of the good and bad that transpired

Workplace by Facebook Revisited

Facebook and Google talk about new revenue streams but investors still consider them advertising companies, and you should too.