CIOs and IT directors are being overwhelmed by the choice of products in the social software market, making it difficult for organisations to decide what products to deploy.
Gartner has identified 36 companies selling social software to enable organisations to develop internal and external online communities. The majority of companies are niche players, with IBM and Microsoft the only large players.
"More than half of companies providing social software have less than 50 staff and revenues under $5m," said Gartner research director Nikos Drakos.
He urged CIOs to be aware that the market for social software is extremely diverse, with internal deployments very different from external deployments. For instance, Facebook integration may be a high priority on an external community site, but less important for an internal community.
Gartner recommended CIOs negotiate social software contracts carefully as they may find they are penalised for deployments that are successful. For instance, companies can expect to pay licence costs of over $1m a year on a site with an external community of 50,000 users, and up to $1m for 5,000 named users on an internal community site.