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FOR: Customer Intelligence Professionals

The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012

by Zach Hofer-Shall, April 24, 2012 KEY TAKEAWAYS The Listening Platform Landscape Is Still Maturing And Moving Although this is Forresters fourth Wave evaluation on the space, we still see new entrants and the market still experiences its share of mergers and acquisitions. Radian6 and Visible Technologies Lead The Market Due to the varied functionality in their current offerings, Radian6 and Visible Technologies meet todays needs, and both presented competitive road maps to extend their offerings. The Enterprise Listening Platform Landscape Holds Many Viable Options Along with the two Leaders, many vendors offer competitive technology and services in this crowded market.

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The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012

How Nine Vendors Stack Up In A Constantly Changing Market
by Zach Hofer-Shall with Suresh Vittal, Dave Frankland, and Allison Smith

WHY READ THIS REPOrt In Forresters 64-criteria evaluation of enterprise listening platforms vendors, we found that Radian6 and Visible Technologies lead the pack because of their variably functional dashboards and innovative road maps. The landscape consists of many Strong Performers: Attensity with its data-processing focus, Converseon with its research reporting, Networked Insights with its focus on media planning and buying, NM Incite with its consulting services, SDL with its data collecting, and Synthesio with its international expertise. The evaluation identified a single Contender, Lithium Technologies, whose strength comes from its easy-to-use self-service dashboard.

Table Of Contents
2 Listening Platforms Make Social Intelligence Possible The Listening Platform Landscape Continues Its Evolution 2 Enterprise Listening Platform Evaluation Overview Defining The Enterprise Listening Platform Market Enterprise Listening Platforms Serve Large, Complicated, And International Customers 4 Varied Offerings Meet Todays Demands 6 Vendor Proles Leaders Provide The Most Functionality Strong Performers Come In All Shapes And Sizes Contenders Make Listening Easy 8 Supplemental Material

Notes & Resources

Forrester conducted lab evaluations in March 2012 and interviewed nine vendors and more than 30 user companies.

Related Research Documents

The Enterprise Listening Platform Landscape April 24, 2012 Its Time For Listening Platforms To Grow Up January 25, 2012 The State Of Social Intelligence, 2011 January 9, 2012

2012, Forrester Research, Inc. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is strictly prohibited. Information is based on best available resources. Opinions reflect judgment at the time and are subject to change. Forrester, Technographics, Forrester Wave, RoleView, TechRadar, and Total Economic Impact are trademarks of Forrester Research, Inc. All other trademarks are the property of their respective companies. To purchase reprints of this document, please email For additional information, go to

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The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012

LIStENING PlAtfOrmS MAKE SOCIAl INtEllIGENCE POSSIBlE Social intelligence the process of turning social media into actionable business insights requires technology assistance.1 The social Web is simply too big, too fast, and too full of irrelevance and spam to manage alone. As a result, businesses turn to listening platforms to help capture social data, manage and analyze its content through text analytics, and deliver insights in dashboards and reporting services. Listening platforms are part of the way through their evolution and are currently at a point between the social media monitoring tools they started as and the critical enterprise business analytics tools they must become.2 The Listening Platform Landscape Continues Its Evolution Businesses evaluating the listening platform market have a tough task ahead: Hundreds of offerings compete for attention, selling solutions to simplify social media.3 Differentiating among vendors in the crowded landscape can be difficult and, due to recent market movements, is only getting more complicated. Since our last evaluation:

Mergers and acquisitions swept the market. Since the last listening platform Forrester Wave,

the space has experienced a great deal of movement. Three of the vendors participating in this evaluation have arrived here through acquisition: Attensity by acquiring Biz360, Lithium Technologies through its acquisition of Scout Labs, and SDL through its acquisition of Alterian which previously acquired Techrigy. And, although Radian6 still operates under its same name, it now sits under its large parent,, following the 2011 acquisition. Most recently, during the process of this evaluation, Visible Technologies acquired one of the market competitors, Cymfony.

Technology giants started dipping their toes in the listening waters. Over the past 18 months,

many of the worlds largest technology companies have launched listening technologies. Both Adobe and SAS launched social analytics offerings; IBM now offers Cognos Consumer Insight; and, with every release, Google Analytics adds more social media coverage to its web analytics offering. Its clear that this is a space that will have a new series of competitors in the near future.

ENtErPrISE LIStENING PlAtfOrm EvAlUAtION OvErvIEw To assess the state of the enterprise listening platform market and see how the vendors stack up against each other, Forrester evaluated the strengths and weaknesses of top enterprise listening platform vendors. Dening The Enterprise Listening Platform Market After examining past research, user need assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, we developed a comprehensive set of evaluation criteria. We evaluated vendors against 64 criteria, which we grouped into three high-level buckets:

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The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012

Current offering. We evaluated each vendors existing product and services offering to

determine its strength compared with todays buyer demands. We reviewed the vendors data source coverage and data processing capabilities such as their automated sentiment analysis and spam detection to determine the quality of data the vendors provide. We then evaluated the vendors dashboard functionalities as well as their technical integration offerings. Lastly, we evaluated the vendors professional services and reporting capabilities.

Strategy. We evaluated each vendors overall strategy, focusing on how its product and services

meet both todays and tomorrows demands. Within the strategy component, we reviewed the management team, the vendors technology and services road maps, and their partner strategies.

Market presence. We evaluated the vendors footprints in the market to determine the relative

size of each offering. We reviewed the number of customers and the growth in customers as well as overall customer satisfaction. We also covered the vendors financial strengths, evaluating each vendors revenue and financial stability. Lastly, we evaluated the vendors employee bases to determine how well each is equipped to handle enterprise customers.

Enterprise Listening Platforms Serve Large, Complicated, And International Customers Forrester included nine vendors in the assessment: Attensity, Converseon, Lithium Technologies, Networked Insights, NM Incite, Radian6, SDL, Synthesio, and Visible Technologies. Each of these vendors has (see Figure 1):

A large footprint in the listening platform market. To determine the vendors most relevant to
todays market, we evaluated companies with at least $10 million in annual revenue from their social listening offerings or vendors with at least 100 customers.

A large concentration of enterprise customers. With a new focus on enterprise listening

platforms, we evaluated vendors with at least 40% of their customer base serving $1billion companies or with more than 100 enterprise customers.

A diverse customer base, serving horizontally across the organization. Enterprise listening

platforms, by definition, must be capable of serving horizontally across the organization not just a single team. We evaluated vendors that sell to an evenly distributed customer base and excluded vendors that have a customer base of more than 40% of any one organizational role, such as market research or public relations.

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The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012

Figure 1 Evaluated Vendors: Vendor Information And Selection Criteria

Vendor Attensity Converseon Lithium Technologies Networked Insights NM Incite Radian6 SDL Synthesio Visible Technologies Date evaluated February 2012 February 2012 February 2012 February 2012 February 2012 February 2012 February 2012 February 2012 February 2012 Vendor selection criteria Selected vendors must have $10 million in annual revenue from their listening oering or at least 100 active customers. At least 40% of the selected vendors customers must be $1 billion-plus companies or they must have a minimum of 100 enterprise customers. No more than 40% of the vendors business can come from a single business line, such as public relations or market research.
Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

VArIED OffErINGS MEEt TODAYS DEmANDS Social intelligence means many things to many parts of the organization. Social data informs marketing measurement, inspires market insights, identifies customer data, and tracks customer issues. As a result, there were multiple ways to perform well in this evaluation either serving many of these functions adequately or serving a few of them specifically well. The evaluation uncovered a market in which (see Figure 2):

Radian6 and Visible Technologies lead the market. Radian6 and Visible Technologies lead

the landscape, sharing two key strengths: broadly functional dashboards and innovative road maps. Although each has key differentiators Radian6 with its engagement tools and Visible Technologies with its focus on data quality they share a focus on integrations. Radian6 and Visible Technologies received top scores across criteria relating to integration with other technology systems.

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The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012

Attensity, Converseon, Networked Insights, NM Incite, SDL, and Synthesio are strong.

Although there is a large pack of vendors in the middle, each earned its spot for a different reason. Converseon is a Strong Performer because of its social research practice; Synthesio due to its international strengths; SDL for its social data quality; Networked Insights for its strong connection to the media world; Attensity for its ability to handle a variety of data; and NM Incite for its strength in consulting services.

Lithium Technologies is a Contender. Although this large landscape contains many

viable options for large companies, the evaluation uncovered a single Contender. Lithium Technologies has a large footprint in the market, excelling with its dashboard offering. It provides simple, self-service tools for monitoring and analyzing social data.

This evaluation of the enterprise listening platform market is intended to be a starting point only. We encourage readers to view detailed product evaluations and adapt the criteria weightings to fit their individual needs through the Forrester Wave Excel-based vendor comparison tool. Figure 2 Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 12
Risky Bets Strong Contenders Strong Performers Leaders

Go online to download

Synthesio Networked Insights SDL NM Incite Current oering Lithium Technologies

Visible Technologies

the Forrester Wave tool for more detailed product evaluations, feature comparisons, and

Radian6 Converseon Attensity

customizable rankings.

Market presence Weak Weak Strategy Strong

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

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The Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 2012

Figure 2 Forrester Wave: Enterprise Listening Platforms, Q2 12 (Cont.)

Lithium Technologies Visible Technologies 3.52 0.00 3.19 3.45 3.65 3.25 3.60 3.70 3.00 3.00 4.00 0.00 3.42 3.67 2.15 4.20 Networked Insights


Forresters Weighting

CURRENT OFFERING Background information Data sources Data processing Dashboard functionality Integration Consulting and analysis services STRATEGY Strength of management team Corporate strategy Product strategy Cost MARKET PRESENCE Customers Financials Employees

50% 0% 10% 15% 45% 10% 20% 50% 15% 15% 70% 0% 0% 70% 20% 10%

2.63 0.00 3.19 3.25 2.95 2.40 1.30 2.97 3.00 3.70 2.80 0.00 3.13 3.23 2.15 4.40

3.02 0.00 3.37 3.10 2.85 1.60 3.90 3.68 4.00 2.80 3.80 0.00 2.52 2.18 3.15 3.60

2.66 0.00 2.43 1.90 3.25 2.50 2.10 2.25 3.00 3.60 1.80 0.00 3.93 4.15 3.50 3.20

3.03 0.00 3.24 3.35 2.75 2.10 3.80 2.96 3.00 2.70 3.00 0.00 3.78 3.76 3.80 3.90

2.95 0.00 3.06 2.80 2.35 2.65 4.50 2.37 2.00 2.80 2.35 0.00 2.91 2.70 2.85 4.50

3.28 0.00 3.73 2.65 3.95 3.75 1.80 4.36 4.00 3.60 4.60 0.00 4.18 3.97 5.00 4.00

3.24 0.00 3.43 3.45 3.10 3.25 3.30 2.78 2.00 3.20 2.85 0.00 4.00 4.35 3.15 3.20

3.15 0.00 2.97 3.15 2.95 3.15 3.70 3.38 4.00 2.90 3.35 0.00 3.33 3.46 3.10 2.90

All scores are based on a scale of 0 (weak) to 5 (strong).

Source: Forrester Research, Inc.

vENDOR PROFILES Leaders Provide The Most Functionality

Radian6. Radian6 has the largest market footprint, with more than twice the number of

customers of the next closest enterprise listening platform. In early 2011, acquired Radian6, and, under this giant umbrella, Radian6 remains the most innovative vendor in the landscape. It continues to add features to its dashboard on a regular basis. But even after many improvements including a dedicated insights dashboard, which utilizes third-party data analysis tools Radian6 customers still report data quality issues. To remain a Leader, Radian6 must double its efforts toward fixing its automated analysis tools or lose customers to more data-focused vendors.

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NM Incite




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Visible Technologies. In late 2010, Visible Technologies launched a completely revamped

dashboard which now receives the top customer reference scores in the market. Visible Technologies dashboard provides broad functionality, serving measurement, research, and engagement needs. In April 2012, Visible Technologies acquired a market competitor, Cymfony. By adding Cymfonys international footprint and consulting resources, Visible Technologies only increases its enterprise offerings. But while the acquisition fills in many of its existing holes, the company must stay focused on its data integrations and technology offers, all while combining the two parties research and consulting services.

Strong Performers Come In All Shapes And Sizes

Converseon. Converseon offers a combination of technology and services to provide a

customized approach to managing and analyzing social data. In 2011, Converseon launched a new dashboard, and the vendor continues to add to its already strong consulting and custom reporting offerings. But, to become a Leader, Converseon must focus on data, both inside its dashboard and out. Converseon with its strength in consulting services currently misses the opportunity to extend its offerings by helping its clients integrate social data with their marketing and business data.

Synthesio. Synthesio is the smallest and youngest vendor of the list but has one of the larger

footprints with enterprises in Europe. Based in Paris, Synthesio takes an internationally focused approach that combines multilingual human analysis on top of its technologies. But Synthesio must look beyond social media to become a Leader. Although its current strengths come from social analytics, research, and consulting, Synthesio may become trapped selling to social media teams. To grow into a Leader, Synthesio must scale its offering across the organization.

SDL. At the beginning of 2012, SDL a large global software vendor acquired Alterian,

which previously offered its SM2 social media analytics dashboard. Now, through the SDL relationship, SM2 remains a popular dashboard but increases its international capabilities and presence. SDL provides a broad variety of social content and a series of technologies to address multiple languages automatically. But for SDL to become a Leader, it must focus on improving its self-service dashboard while dealing with its recent acquisition.

Networked Insights. Networked Insights follows the same processes as the other vendors in the

market but specializes in a targeted insight delivery: media planning and buying. The vendor built its SocialSense dashboard around these marketing needs, giving it an unrivaled advantage for socially informed media planning and buying but leaving it lacking in some broader social intelligence applications. Networked Insights services team also provides strategy and reporting around many marketing and business needs, but its core focus remains in the media space.

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Attensity. Following the acquisition of Biz360 in 2010, Attensity now integrates social media

data into its overall text analytics offering. Due to Attensitys legacy in the unstructured data world, it excels at handling sources beyond just social data and offers integrations into a variety of technology systems. But with Attensitys data strength come dashboard issues. To become a Leader, Attensity must unify its user experience across its currently fragmented product line, improve its dashboard interface, and provide more of the data analysis tools that social buyers expect.

NM Incite. NM Incite is the joint venture between Nielsens BuzzMetrics team and McKinseys

management consulting practice, which offers technology and strategy services to help companies manage social media. NM Incite offers a variety of research and consulting offerings, garnering positive customer references. But while NM Incite continues to excel in its social research practice, it must address a few issues to become a Leader. Most prominently, NM Incite must improve its dashboard offering, improve its data quality, and address its limitations around non-social data.

Contenders Make Listening Easy

Lithium Technologies. Following the acquisition of Scout Labs in 2010, Lithium added social

media monitoring capabilities to its existing social business software suite. Lithiums core product is its community platform offering, which it also feeds into its monitoring tool. This gives Lithium an advantage for customers of its community platform technology or customers looking for a social technology suite. But Lithiums strength in integration with its communities is also its problem. By focusing on internal integrations, Lithium lacks external integrations, both with nonsocial data and into other external technology systems. And while Lithium customers reported positive experiences with the dashboard, the vendor must also address its data quality issues.

SUPPlEmENtAl MAtErIAl Online Resource The online version of Figure 2 is an Excel-based vendor comparison tool that provides detailed product evaluations and customizable rankings. Data Sources Used In This Forrester Wave Forrester used a combination of four data sources to assess the strengths and weaknesses of each solution:

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Hands-on lab evaluations. Vendors spent a half day with Forrester, conducting hands-on

evaluations of their products using a scenario-based testing methodology. We evaluated each product using the same scenario, creating a level playing field by evaluating every product on the same criteria.

Vendor surveys. Forrester surveyed vendors on their capabilities as they relate to the evaluation
criteria. Once we analyzed the completed vendor surveys, we conducted vendor calls where necessary to gather details of vendor qualifications.

Product demos. We asked vendors to conduct demonstrations of their products functionality.

We used findings from these product demos to validate details of each vendors product capabilities.

Customer reference surveys. To validate product and vendor qualifications, Forrester also
conducted reference checks with at least three of each vendors current customers.

The Forrester Wave Methodology We conduct primary research to develop a list of vendors that meet our criteria to be evaluated in this market. From that initial pool of vendors, we then narrow our final list. We choose these vendors based on: 1) product fit; 2) customer success; and 3) Forrester client demand. We eliminate vendors that have limited customer references and products that dont fit the scope of our evaluation. After examining past research, user need assessments, and vendor and expert interviews, we develop the initial evaluation criteria. To evaluate the vendors and their products against our set of criteria, we gather details of product qualifications through a combination of lab evaluations, questionnaires, demos, and/or discussions with client references. We send evaluations to the vendors for their review, and we adjust the evaluations to provide the most accurate view of vendor offerings and strategies. We set default weightings to reflect our analysis of the needs of large user companies and/or other scenarios as outlined in the Forrester Wave document and then score the vendors based on a clearly defined scale. These default weightings are intended only as a starting point, and we encourage readers to adapt the weightings to fit their individual needs through the Excel-based tool. The final scores generate the graphical depiction of the market based on current offering, strategy, and market presence. Forrester intends to update vendor evaluations regularly as product capabilities and vendor strategies evolve.

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For more information about social intelligence, see the March 12, 2010, Defining Social Intelligence report. Forrester describes a mandate for listening platforms future road map. See the January 25, 2012, Its Time For Listening Platforms To Grow Up report. To learn more about the listening platform vendor landscape, see the April 24, 2012, The Enterprise Listening Platform Landscape report.

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