"This isn't email or audio conferencing, where you put the service out and people naturally pick it up," he says. "We're not there yet with ESN."
If You Don't Want to Wait for the SharePoint-Yammer Integration, Look Elsewhere, or Keep What You Have if It works
IBM's Connections, first released in 2007, has been a solid product, in particular as an ESN complement for SharePoint, according to Koplowitz.
In its most recent release this year, Connections is aiming to become a broader competitor with stronger document and content management capabilities and improved analytics features. IBM is also pushing ESN bundles tailored for human resources and marketing departments specifically.
A few years ago, Electrolux, a Swedish appliance vendor, decided it needed to give its employees an ESN tool that would help spur innovation and collaboration. The company used SharePoint, but quickly decided the native ESN capabilities in the product at the time weren't enough for its needs, and deployed IBM Connections. Today, the company uses both products -- SharePoint for more static intranet functions like team sites, and IBM Connections for social collaboration interactions like microblogging and activity streams.
"We wouldn't have been able to accomplish what we wanted to do with the standalone SharePoint," said Ralf Larsson, Electrolux's director of online employee engagement and development.
"Connections and SharePoint can co-exist because they are really good at different areas," he added.
As for Jive Software, Koplowitz sees it taking advantage of its ability to move fast and to be agnostic with regards to its interoperability with third-party business software.
Cannell shares a similar opinion. "Jive is a very viable vendor and a leader," he said.
Salesforce.com's Chatter has also become a dominant product in the ESN market, according to Koplowitz, who also said he has been surprised by the success of Tibbr. "Tibco's made it. Tibbr has risen above the fray and sold very well," he said.
Cannell calls Tibbr "one of the most interesting" ESN products.
InterPortPolice, an inter-governmental agency for collaboration among airport and seaport law enforcement authorities in the U.S. and abroad, decided to adopt an ESN tool recently. Early in its selection process it crossed out SharePoint because of its poor mobile access, a recurrent criticism of the product that lasts to this day.
Instead, it chose Tibbr, whose mobile support met the agency's needs. "Ninety percent of our people are away from their desks 90 percent of the time," said Jay Grant, Secretary General of InterPortPolice.
It also found SharePoint's enterprise social collaboration features lacking, and thought the product better suited for document management tasks thanfor people-centric collaboration, he said. Tibbr, on the other hand, gives the agency the type of social collaboration interaction it was looking to provide its users.
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