It may be hard to imagine an ultrahip jazz maestro like the late Miles Davis immersing himself in the world of social software and collaboration, but according to a new report from Gartner, some pretty cool things are happening in this space. In "Cool Vendors in Social Software and Collaboration", Gartner identifies, MangoApps, Podio, Social Intelligence, and SocialLogix as being among a "broader set of interesting vendors to watch in social software and collaboration".

Vendors Address Gaps, Seek Visibility

Taking a broader look at the social software and collaboration market, Gartner says emerging vendors are looking to "exploit opportunities and address the gaps in established offerings." They are also offering cloud-based and "freemium" services to obtain visibility and reach in what is becoming a crowded marketplace.

Monitoring Provides 'Crucial' Employee Insight

According to Gartner, social media monitoring is "crucial" for organizations seeking to stay informed about what their employees are saying and doing in online public forums. Gartner recommends users identify gaps in existing social monitoring and collaboration solutions and investigate emerging vendors to fill them. Companies are also advised to develop clearly defined and measurable use cases, and to make social analytics part of a broader enterprise social media initiative.

Without further ado, let's take a quick look at Gartner's thoughts on each of the five cool social software and collaboration vendors. Brings Email into the 21st Century

Miltipas, California-based is a collaboration tool vendor focusing on social email and social documents. Specifically, offers products integrating the email client from Microsoft Outlook to Microsoft SharePoint and Google Docs, and the email client from IBM Lotus Notes to Microsoft SharePoint.

Gartner credits for addressing the "hurdle" of collaborating without having to leave email, but says the company must expand beyond the narrow range of email and document collaboration tools it currently integrates.

MangoApps Offers Real Time Collaboration

Bellevue, Washington-based MangoApps integrates real-time collaboration technologies such as IM, video conferencing and group chat with social networking. MangoApps also provides connector plug-ins for enterprise and collaboration applications including SAP,, and Microsoft Outlook and SharePoint.

Gartner says MangoApps has a "unique" ability to integrate real-time and social technologies into the context of business processes, but may have trouble engaging with enterprise customers because its product does not address a defined buyer.

Podio Provides Prebuilt Platform

Podio, which is headquartered in San Francisco, California and Copenhagen, Denmark and was acquired by Citrix last month, provides an SaaS "work platform" consisting of an online environment with prebuilt applications for tasks including project collaboration, lead management, social intranets, event management and recruitment. Applications are based on a set of common capabilities including native mobile support, and can be easily "cloned" through an app builder that requires no programming experience.

One drawback of this ease is that Gartner classifies Podio apps as "relatively simple" and "not a real alternative to complex business applications."

Social Intelligence Delivers on Name Promise

As indicated by its name, Santa Barbara, California-based Social Intelligence collects user data from social media and other public sites. This data can be used for employment screening, fraud identification or due diligence. Social Intelligence meets federal and state privacy regulations in the reports it prepares for clients.

Gartner says Social Intelligence faces three basic challenges to growth: having enough qualified analysts on staff, limitations to providing frequent and ongoing investigations due to issues with regulatory compliance, and possible changes in the regulatory environment.

SocialLogix Digs Deep

Roseville, California-based SocialLogix provides an autodiscovery capability that lets employers identify all social media outlets used by employees, including multiple identities used on multiple platforms, little-known social media sites, and social media sites conducted in languages other than English.

Gartner says SocialLogix can help employers perform more targeted and cost-efficient social media monitoring, but regulatory issues and a broader services portfolio that does not offer unique capabilities may hinder its continued growth.