Today, Altimeter Group announced its expansion and the addition of some prominent partners: Jeremiah Owyang, Ray Wang, & Deborah Schultz. While Charlene Li is a force to be reckoned with in her own right, this expansion will make the Altimeter group one of the bigger service firms to arise in what I am calling the Social Enterprise Service marketplace.
The Social Enterprise Service market has consolidated quite a bit over the last year and grown from a landscape of a lot of one-person consultancies to a field of small firms, including our own. Why? Well, companies have started to see what is possible to enable with social technologies but the change management and integration to core business processes that is necessary to evolve requires more than technology. To really understand how to effectively use these technologies at a strategic level, its critical to have people that use and understand the technology as well as have a deep understanding of corporate processes, politics & operations – and then be able to wrap that into the language of business management. There are not that many people out there that can effectively speak to all of those areas and those that can are seeing growing demand for their services as companies move past learning how to use the public social networks for communications.
I thought I’d step back a bit and provide an inventory of these new Social Enterprise Service firms (I am not including the large agencies, consulting, and analyst firms that also provide social enterprise services – topic for another post). I’ll provide my perspective on each with the very large caveat that while I know many of the people running these firms and have talked to them about their firms, I have not had formal briefings or spoken with their clients so this is my personal perspective, nothing more. You will have to judge them for yourself.
Note: Listed in alphabetical order.
Tag line: Altimeter Group provides advice and consulting on digital strategies, with a focus on how organizations can leverage social and emerging technologies to achieve results.
Principals: Charlene Li, Deborah Schultz, Jeremiah Owyang, Ray Wang
My perspective: A high powered, high profile (and likely high cost) advisory and consulting practice with a marketing bent. They have a great resource database and just launched what looks to be an interesting construct called The Hanger – a space to host events that bring together different elements of the social enterprise ecosystem. Major differentiators? They will get people to sit up and pay attention and be able to effectively communicate the trends going on in the market. They also have a huge network and will use it to help their clients.
Tag Line: At Ant’s Eye View we concentrate on helping companies of all sizes understand and engage in customer collaboration, social media, and community building.
Principals: Sean O’Driscoll, Jake McKee, Sean McDonald, & Dustin Johnson
My Perspective: A group of ex-practitioners who have built communities for Microsoft, Dell, & Lego – Ant’s Eye View focuses on implementation and change management consulting and longer term projects, and has more of a customer/account support bent than other firms in the market. Major differentiators – They will dig in and help figure out the operational strategy and plans you need to effectively get a social initiative off the ground. These guys understand the operational and political challenges of achieving change like few others.
Tag Line: Helping organizations create customers by humanizing themselves and their brands
Principals: Francois Gossieaux, Hylton Jolliffe, Lois Kelly, & Janet Swaysland
My Perspective: Beeline Labs is a a marketing strategy firm perhaps best know for its major research project “The Tribalization of Business”, Francois and his team are doing both strategy and marketing execution for major brands. Major differentiators? This team has been around for longer than most and has been quietly racking up results for their clients while providing some great public content for the market.
Tag Line: Social Business Design
Principals: Jeff Dachis, Peter Kim, Kate Niederhoffer, Jevon MacDonald, David Armano
My Perspective: A high profile group with a marketing bent, the Dachis crew are looking to redefine what a social enterprise looks like from a structural perspective. While I envision that they are looking to build a large agency and consulting practice – and they have raised a large amount of money to do so – they have been relatively quiet about the specifics. I’m looking forward to hearing more from them. Major differentiators? They have some of the leading thinkers who are pushing the boundaries of what it means to be a social enterprise.
Tag Line: Forum One Networks provides events, research, networking and strategic consulting for online community and social media professionals.
My Perspective: Forum One is the older members in this set and part of Forum One Communications. Bill Johston has made a name for Forum One Networks in the social enterprise and community space. They excel at small conferences and events like the Online Community Summit and they do extensive research on how businesses are socializing their practices.
Tag Line: New Marketing Labs is dedicated to solving your online marketing and social media challenges.
Principals: Chris Brogan, Justin Levy, & Colin Browning
My Perspective: Led by the force that is Chris Brogan, this team of social media marketing veterans runs events and helps companies implement social media initiatives. Major differentiators? More hands on than some of the others, they’ve done events and activities big and small for their clients.
Tag Line: A community for social media managers at large companies
Principals: Andy Sernovitz, Bob Pearson and the executive team at GasPedal
My Perspective: The Social Media Business Council (until recently The Blog Council) is a large community of corporate marketing professionals that use social media. It is the most corporate and institutional of the service providers in this space running lots of events and programming for their large corporate members. Major differentiators? They produce a lot of great documented cases studies and run a range of events and programming for their members.
Tag Line: Social Media Group is one of the world’s largest independent agencies helping business navigate the new socially engaged Web.
Principals: Maggie Fox, Kevin De Kock, Doug Walker
My Perspective: Known for the social media press release, I think of the Social Media Group as the new type of marketing agency and it is perhaps the biggest of this group – with some major brand accounts with which they do a lot of repeat business. Major differentiators? They will be your full service social agency of record.
And what about us – The Community Roundtable? We think there is the opportunity to fill a unique role in this market – one that creates:
- A focus on the individual community managers, their success, and their careers (which is why our subscriptions are for named individuals, not companies per se)
- A range of educational opportunities – tactical, strategic, and professional development oriented.
- A space for peer-to-peer networking and learning for community managers across the spectrum of functional disciplines – customer support, marketing, product innovation, employee communities, partner networks, and communities that are the business.
- Opportunities for professionals from large, small, non-profit, and government organizations to interact so they can push each other to challenge assumptions about issues and opportunities. We think that a multi-disciplinary approach is critical in the emergent discipline of community management.
- Relationships with everyone in the community manger’s ecosystem – vendors, other service providers, independent experts, students, recruiters, and event providers to make sure community managers have what they need to be successful as quickly as possible.
- Standard frameworks, definitions, and descriptions of what community management and a social enterprise is.
- Guidance for organizations around the unique challenges of community management.
I’ve provided my perspective – but I’m likely not getting it quite right. Now it’s time for you to weigh in – what did I miss or get wrong? Do you have a recommendation? We’d love to hear from you.