IBM Named Market Leader in Enterprise Social Software
For the third straight year, IBM has been named as the leader in worldwide market share for enterprise social software. The designation was made by industry research firm IDC, and was based on 2011 revenue.
IBM's revenue grew by about 70 percent in 2011, easily outpacing most of its competitors and nearly doubling the rate of the social business market as a whole, which grew at about 40 percent.
IBM's Social Platform
According to IDC, that market is expected to grow about 43 percent over the next five years, hitting about $4.5 billion by 2016. The top two companies in this space were IBM and Jive, which each had more than 70 percent year-over-year growth. The fastest-growing provider was Yammer, with a phenomenal 132.3 percent growth year-over-year. Microsoft reportedly is either near purchasing or has purchased Yammer for $1.2 billion.
Michael Fauscette, group vice president of IDC's Software Business Solutions Group, said in a statement accompanying the IBM designation that companies are "seeing significant gain in productivity and increasing value" from social software solutions that bring together people, data, content, and systems in real time.
IBM's social networking platform is IBM Connections, which the company said is used by one-third of Fortune 100 companies, including eight of the top 10 retailers and banks. The company said that Connections is unique in that it combines social networking functions with analytics, which help to capture information and create insights into dialogs undertaken by employees and customers.
From the user's point of view, the platform offers one-click collaboration, and the ability to create communities either inside or outside a company. Within IBM, more than 400,000 employees collaborate through Connections, resulting in more than 67,000 communities.
'Very Mature Product'
We asked Brad Shimmin, an analyst with Current Analysis, if IBM's continuing dominance of enterprise social software was surprising. He replied that its wasn't, and noted that Connections "is a very mature product" that IBM has been fielding for "some time" to its sizable customer base.
Shimmin pointed out that Connections, as with many other IBM software products, was built in-house, but the company has adopted technology from some of its acquisitions, such as Cognos, which helped to provide the analytical functionality.
He said IBM's edge is "its ability to appeal to larger firms, which have larger demands," to provide business processes that are specific to a company's business needs, and to support the software with its professional services. In addition, Shimmin said, IBM has "pushed out" Connections through inclusion of key components in WebSphere and other product lines.
He noted that the company's weak spot for Connections has been in the mid-market, for which it's "been relatively slow" to adapt, but Shimmin added that IBM "has been making good strides in the mid-market" over the last 18 months or so.
Current IBM customers for Connections include Lowe's Home Improvement, Electrolux, TD Bank, Russell's Convenience Stores, Bayer Material Science, The Ottawa Hospital, Premier Healthcare Alliance, Earthwatch and others.