Social Business Yet to Prove its Worth, Report Finds

Companies hire people to work, not to be social. That’s just one of the problems social business tools face despite the fact the US$ 2 billion industry is still growing at a decent clip, a 451 Research report found.

Adopting Verticals the Obvious Play

With increased competition in a crowded space, enterprise collaboration vendors are taking to selling to specific industry verticals instead of selling horizontally, the Enterprise Collaboration and Social Business - State of the Market report found.

The hype and subsequent loss of interest in all things social has made things more complicated for social business vendors. Even for the largest vendors, there is still lots of confusion and misunderstanding of what they really provide for businesses. In fact, for everyone except IBM, the segment leader, there appears to be a disconnect between how valuable social business tools are perceived to be and how much money they can really save or even make for businesses, the report found.

It turns out most companies don’t really care that much about having a watercooler app where workers can discuss things, and are more interested in tools that let them mine data, apps, connections and activities. The main focus for social business is actually around human resource management activities.

Buyers want integration with legacy systems and tools that focus on business applications and processes. Recent releases in this vein are Infor Ming.le TIBCO Tibbr and SAP Jam, the report noted. Many of the other tools in the segment like Citrix Podio, Teambox, Interact or Accellion, for example, are often seen as blank canvas collaboration tools, and best suited for small and medium sized businesses.

Eyes on Oracle, Microsoft, SAP + IBM

For the largest companies in the social business space, things are muddled with Oracle and Microsoft not offering the clearest explanations of just what they can do, the report found. SAP has a revamped HR focused product as part of its StreamWork technology, but it’s still too early to asses how productive organizations can be with it.

For IBM, Connections is considered the industry leader even though it mostly focused on HR with Kenexa. Overall, social business tools are being re thought as to their value in the enterprise, and a long over due reality check is here, the report found.

Social business is a hot debate now, where most companies weren’t talking about it six months ago. IBM and SAP are putting together comprehensive systems that smaller firms simply can’t do, even though dozens of them are trying to convince businesses they can.