The landscape for social platforms is a rich one, and IT professionals are using a number of approaches to deploy social communication and collaboration features in an enterprise environment.

Social Point Solutions in Majority

ESG research shows that presently, the majority of social deployments are not within socially enabled applications. Instead, it is much more common to see point solutions -- such as the nearly ubiquitous audio chat application Skype -- and social communication and sharing portals or intranets such as Jive or Yammer in use. Commonly thought of as “Facebook for the corporation,” these social portals represent the majority of first-wave social enterprise deployments.

Some companies are taking the social enterprise into their own hands and are developing social portals themselves. In a recent ESG survey, 12% of respondents reported that they had developed their own portals in-house. Of the respondents who were planning on deploying social portals, 15% expected to do it themselves. This level of implementation activity is not far behind the deployment of major software products in this space, such as IBM Connections (18%) and Salesforce.com’s Chatter (17%) for already deployed solutions, and it is actually higher than the deployment rates for quite a few name-brand content management companies’ products.

Using Web Content Management for Social Portals

One common method of creating social portals internally involves using web content management platforms (WCMs). WCM software has been used for years to develop sophisticated, interactive and data-driven websites. It is natural that this software would be adapted to serve as a platform for social portal development. Traditional WCM ISVs, such as Ektron, offer as many social features as social-only platforms. Newer companies such as eXo and Igloo have also risen from similar content management roots to create extensive social portal development platforms. Even the popular open source WCM platform Drupal has so many social add-on modules that a full-featured, Drupal-based social portal could be developed using available tools.

As social communication and collaboration features become more mainstream, content management software has become a social development platform as well. For those companies looking to jump-start their own social enterprise development, this is a great trend. They now have the toolbox they need to build almost any kind of social portal.

Editor's note: Social software comes in many shapes and sizes as Tom clearly points out. You can learn about a number of technologies and strategies on the topic here.