I don't know if all of you know how blogs work on TypePad, but we all get a stats panel, and we can see where people are coming in.
One of the most popular avenue, not surprisingly, is searches. And if you click on the link, you can see what people were searching for.
I've gotten more than a few hits on "Clearspace alternatives" or similar, so I thought I'd offer my thoughts on this.
And, no, I'm not getting paid by Jive Software for this ;-)
When we got into this, we spent a few weeks figuring out what was important to us, and what wasn't. We set up a small prototypical internal SM site (using DotNetNuke -- not recommended) to have the discussion, and to learn in the process.
We spent another few weeks looking at vendors, and then we made our decision to go with Clearspace from Jive Software. That was back in August of 2007.
But, even though we're married, we're not dead. We've continued to look at alternative environments, and -- so far -- we haven't found anything that we wished we would have done instead. If anything, we think we made a real smart decision.
Our core belief is that social media is 95% about people, and 5% about technology. We wanted a platform that let people dive in and start being social as transparently as possible. We got that.
We didn't want to be in the software customization or open source figure-out-how-to-fix-it business. We wanted a platform to get on to the serious work of social media. We wanted a commercial-grade product. We got that.
The UI for us was key. It had to be attractive, engaging and fun. We didn't want to spend time on training, etc. We didn't want one way to do blogs, another way to do wikis, another way to do forums, etc. We got that.
We also realized we didn't know what we didn't know, so we wanted the option (hope we never have to use it) of modifying style sheets, widgets, java code, etc. if we found ourselves there. We got that.
We didn't see this as a document-centric problem. We think social media is all about communication, not creating vast repositories of stuff. So we weren't interested in Lotus, or Sharepoint, or even EMC's eRoom and Documentum products. We know we'll need stronger content management capabilities in the future, but we don't expect Jive to provide that in their product, only the ability to integrate with stronger back-end content management and workflow platforms. We got that.
We wanted a relationship with our vendor -- this is a journey, not an event. Jive has done a better-than-average job of listening to us, working with us, adding features, finding workarounds, etc. Yes, they could do better (couldn't we all?) but -- generally speaking -- we're more than satisfied. We got that.
The Bottom Line
If you're like us (and many of you are), let me make this simple. To the best of our knowledge, there is no viable alternative in the marketplace to Clearspace from Jive Software. The more we progress, the more sure we are of this statement.
We see other projects where people are trying to lash a bunch of open source-ish stuff together. Not only won't it work as well, I'd offer they're losing valuable time and resources focusing on the wrong part of the problem.
We see people who go Sharepoint simply because it comes from Microsoft, and it fits in well with everything else they have. Yes, that's true, but it ain't social media, and it wasn't what we wanted.
And we see all sorts of content management apps lash on a wiki interface and say "we've solved it". You haven't.
Want to be successful in social media in your enterprise? Pick a package, get it running, and move on to the real work ahead of you.
We did, and we're glad we did.