finding_the_right_so cial_network_software

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LiquidHub: Success Story Finding the Right Social Network Software for Your Business   The Challenge: With over 100 vendors in the social software arena, where do you begin the search to find THE Right social media platform for your business? How does an organization choose the correct platform when the Social Networking channel is still growing and changing? Features and functions that are important today and meet the organization’s needs may require configuration, modification or upgrade. Lastly, how does an organization decide which features and functions are needed in the short and long term? This was the challenge LiquidHub recently took on. The Solution: LiquidHub provided the expertise in Marketing, Social Media, Information Technology and Project Management necessary to evaluate and recommend a Social Networking product. The following were the steps taken to choose a product and vendor to support our client’s business needs. 1. Define Objectives and Vision for using Social Media – who will be using it, what online social communities will be deployed, and what features were needed for those communities. This provided the context against which to analyze the various social software products in the marketplace. The following key requirements were considered: Community file library, including the ability to organize files in nested folders Community event calendar, discussion forums, wikis, blogs, and an easily configurable community home page Closed business communities, not linked to outside social networks (Twitter) or other social communities provided by a vendor Easy fast setup, easy and well designed UI, drag and drop configuration and administration, short deployment time, API available Totally “white label” – vendor branding totally removed, and fully and easily customizable with client branding Single Sign-on integration, and integration with the client’s enterprise business applications for user profile information and community membership relationships 2. Conduct Market Research With so many social business software vendors in the space, knowing where to begin was a daunting task. However, the vendors tended to fall into categories regarding what business problems they were trying to solve and what features they offered: Targeted at a specific customer base, such as educational institutions or law firms Focused on specific business applications, such as career networking, corporate events, or customer support Configurable out-of-the-box applications vs. strictly custom applications (preferred by media marketing enterprises) Oriented from an individual user's perspective vs. a community perspective Primarily social vs. primarily collaboration vs. a balance of both ("social collaboration") We looked at industry analyst reports, such as the Forrester Wave surveys, Gartner Magic Quadrants, and Tech Crunch surveys to identify the initial pool of over 100 vendors. Product demo videos and features and functions lists on vendor sites were analyzed to determine whether the vendor’s product capabilities and features were in line with our client’s business requirements.

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LiquidHub: Success Story This analysis enabled us to quickly narrow the field of vendors down to 26. Some of the primary reasons many vendors did not make the cut were: No file sharing or no file folders Not “white label” products (would not provide the option to remove their own logos) Unwilling to close gateways to outside communities (e.g. Twitter)   3. Vendor Demos Vendor demonstrations were conducted, and an objective and quantitative rating system was used to rate the features and functions of each product against the client’s business requirements. In addition, the vendors were rated on the stability of the product, their product development roadmap, the ability to influence the product through enhancement requests, local personalization capability (language selection), and finally the financial viability of the vendor. 4. Sandbox Testing We developed a high level list of the business requirements, and a visual design depicting how we envisioned the product to be deployed for our client. We shared these with the vendors and asked them to build sandbox sites using our visual design, so that we could test their software. The speed in which some vendors were able to build, configure and deploy sites using our visual design and requirements was also evaluated. Test scripts were created for key business users to test and rate the final two software products. IT checked the vendor’s capability for Single Sign On integration, and integration with the client’s enterprise application systems. We also did an in depth evaluation of the Administration Panel of the final two vendor products, and rated them for ease of use, drag and drop capability, and ease of system administration. Benefits and Insights LiquidHub was able to manage the vendor selection process with a very diverse set of client evaluators. By the time the sandbox testing was underway, any of the last four leading products would have served our client well. How we chose between those had to do with subtle differences in the design choices the vendors made in the area of user roles and permissions which would not have been discovered without sandbox testing. We defined the basic roles needed for our client, and the permissions and job responsibilities for each of those roles. For instance, we needed a general user to be able to create calendar events and create file folders for storing documents using the front end interface. Some vendors required Administrative rights for those functions in the Administration Panel, which were showstoppers for our client. LiquidHub combined marketing, collaboration, social media, and technical skills to choose a Social Media platform that will service our client for many years and will grow as the client’s business grows. About LiquidHub LiquidHub is a systems integration and technology consulting firm delivering consulting, solutions and outsourcing. Supporting clients in healthcare, life sciences, financial services, insurance, and other key industries, LiquidHub fuels business transformation for our clients globally. For more information, please visit our website at

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