Strong collaboration contenders
If we had scoring categories for development speed and agility, CubeTree would earn 10 in both. This relative newcomer is pumping out updates almost weekly (I tested update 63), and each adds real functionality. The service was a joy to use, but some of the features aren't as deep as their counterparts in other products. Still, with no cost for the basic version, you should pilot this product.
Stepping up, I was impressed with how far Socialtext has come from the early wiki days. The only product tested with both appliance and cloud deployment options, it's an excellent choice for regulated industries.
At the next level, where you're interested in connecting internal and external communities, there's Telligent and Jive SBS. Both products are more complex to customize and deploy but have the advantage of strong analytics. Decision-makers can monitor conversations that potentially affect the business. Of the two, Telligent nudges slightly ahead because of better integration with other business systems.
A final note: Do the math. Per-month costs may at first seem reasonable. But for a large organization, you're potentially looking at costs of a million dollars (or more) per year. On this measure alone, CubeTree's basic offering and Socialtext's microblogging option seem like bargains.
Slideshow: Up close and personal with social software
A visual tour of offerings from CubeTree, Jive, Socialtext, and Telligent reveal their respective strengths
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