Info-Tech Research Group released its evaluation of enterprise collaboration software earlier this year. Microsoft's Office SharePoint Server 2007 and Open Text's Open Text Social Media 7 won the highest praise. But as worker expectations change, there's clearly room for competition on usability.
Info-Tech evaluated the following solutions:
The products were evaluated for collaboration features, content features, affordability, usability and company strength.
It highlighted Open Text Social Media 7 and Microsoft Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 as the best of the products reviewed. CenterStage, Quickr, and Socialtext were classed as "contenders." And it described Drupal and Jive as "Vanguard" - products that will appeal in particular niches.
Microsoft Sharepoint screenshot
Info-Tech gave Sharepoint three out of three stars for usability - and it was the only software reviewed to receive that distinction. As both an end-user and administrator of Sharepoint, I found that surprising. Microsoft's made some inroads with Sharepoint 2010, but if Sharepoint features the best usability the market has to offer, then there's a huge opportunity for competitors.
Open Text Social Workplace screenshot
According to Info-Tech, "OTSM provides a collaboration product in the workplace that is as intuitive as the collaboration tools employees use at home." That's a telling statement. Enterprise software has a long history of being tedious and cumbersome. As employees become accustomed to the sleek interfaces of Web and mobile applications they use at home, enterprise software with poor usability will become only more tiresome.
Microsoft dominates the market; 71% of the organizations Info-Tech surveyed were using Sharepoint. IBM trails with with 6% of organizations using Lotus Quickr. To compete with the giants, companies will need offer enterprises competitive advantages in order to distinguish themselves. Better usability can reduce training costs, increase worker productivity, and improve employee satisfaction. Vendors who can offer enterprises these competitive advantages will be at a significant advantage. And they might make work more pleasant while they're at it.