1:50am on the Social Software Dance Floor

It’s at the end of the night on the dance floor, do brands know where their social software providers are?  Like the end of a dance, social software vendors are understanding who they can partner with –or be confident on going it alone.

Once the lights go on in the next few quarters, the ecosystem will emerge in a new day, with brands stuck answering “Do I buy a suite?” or “Do I invest in integration?”. This post is intended to provide illumination on what’s happening behind the scenes –and who dance stars will be.

Matrix: Social Software and Services Scenarios

Above: Here are the options brands have when it comes to integration social software and services, the ideal scenario is upper right, but at this time, this promise is a lofty one.

I first alluded to this metaphor on an interview on Techcrunch, where we saw acquisitions occurring in spring of many of social vendors to create Social Software Suites (see the growing list).

  • Consolidation in a Fragmented Market a Sign of Maturity.  In prior posts, we’ve found over 100 vendors in community, brand monitoring, and the recent social media management vendor list is upwards of 40.  We saw an increase in M&A announcements in spring from Oracle, Salesforce, Google, esp as fall conference season picks up for these software giants.  Up and down highway 101 in Silicon Valley, there are business development meetings where there’s shopping, dating, flirting, and discussions around larger companies seeking to acquire more focused startups who’re seeking an exit.   Buyers and sellers are all speaking to multiple potential suitors to see who will be a good fit into their Social Software Suite.
  • Two Forces: Top Down Suites Offer it All vs Agile Point Provider Community.  The largest impacts will be to the buyers, who will have to re-establish their software integration strategy.  Will they go for the one-size-fits all vendor that offers all the needed use cases, or focus in on investing on a point provider that can deliver the best experience for the required job.  Each offers benefits and draw backs.  Vendors who offer the larger suite will tackle at the C-suite level and go down (longer deal sizes, larger scope, with potential larger pie) vs more agile point players that can quickly pivot, innovate, and partner with system integrators to get the job down.
  • New Innovation as Ecosystem Reforms, Services Come to Forefront.  For specific software innovators that plan to go-it-alone after the lights come on, they can still be very innovative by developing in the next phase of the social web “Performance Social” that focuses on analytics, data driven decision, and automation of these technologies. Furthermore, we continue to see new case studies emerge from social engagement command centers that bring together service and software players, to new mobile and augmented reality platforms spurred by Google.  Expect this to be a booming opportunity for system integrators and digital agencies to partner with both sides to craft experiences for brands.  The savvy system integrators and digital services providers will offer playbooks, methods, and teams that can integrate at all levels.

The good news is, there’s another dance the next night, as the market continues to grow and evolve –this is just a new session in the continued evolution of the social software space. In 2008 I hosted an event for software vendors (while at my former employer), social networks, and brands to discuss the future of the market, if you think it would be valuable for me to host again (including service providers), please let me know.