Enterprise social software platforms of 2016. Which one can handle your ambition?

From experience with the popular post on dating software platforms it became evident that comparison or review posts just mustn't stay static. Products change, perspective shifts, new information emerges. One way is to update the post every so often, but who wants to read through 90% of the same stuff every time? So, instead, I'll just make a rolling update for the first post followed by "re-review" posts every few months.

Now, this one is the first in the enterprise social software series. Not a review or a comparison yet. Just a "first look" post to bring up some of the key players and start the discussion. Hopefully, we would have comments with suggestions and feedback on these and other prominent social software vendors, eventually taking it all to a proper overview level. Let's go!

What is Enterprise Social Software?

Now that we have a definition of social software in general, the "enterprise" bit would simply mean the same thing but for large-scale, mission-critical, business-oriented projects.

That's still very very broad, so for the purpose of staying sane I'll just concentrate on software platforms for creating custom online communities.

Most enterprise/business social software solutions are limited to company intranets or CRMs, which may be functionally similar to an "external" community, but I'd put them into a category few steps lower than full-site platforms. With internal networks, you could get away with changing a logo and then training your staff to use the site as is, while with external you typically need powerful customisation features, support for large-scale membership base, and most importantly - ability to extend platform capabilities without braking the base. Reliable solutions for customisable, enterprise-class online communities are rare and far between, so it will take a few weeks of edits for this post to offer a well-curated list.

We have to begin somewhere, so let's see what we can find out about these...

JiveSoftware, Hoop.la, Lithium, Bitrix24, Bloomfire, Socious and UNA.

I'll be taking a closer look at each of them over the next 7 weeks. Meanwhile, if you have suggestions of other capable platforms - please share in comments.