Over the last six years ClearBox Consulting has published a range of reports which present detailed profiles of SharePoint-based and independent intranet vendors and employee communication applications. The range, depth and authority of these reports is matched only by those on MarTech from the Real Story Group. Reports from companies such as Gartner and Forrester come nowhere close to being able to provide the insights that the Clearbox team delivers to its customers.
In the past the reports have been priced but inevitably there comes a point where the cost of the resources exceeds the revenue of the business model. To bring a balance between costs and revenue ClearBox has changed the business model, with the costs being met by vendors who can see the benefit of being independently profiled along with their competitors. The outcome is that the new report Intranet and Employee Experience Platforms is free to download. You have no idea how courageous that step is for a small business! A vendor-sponsored report inevitably has a suspicion of bias. To ensure that reviews are unbiased and independent, all the vendors signed an agreement with ClearBox committing to a set of editorial principles. ClearBox has also ensured that its review and editorial processes remain rigorous, with reviews and checks in place to preserve consistency and quality.
The overall format of the report remains unchanged with profiles structured around a set of ten scenarios. The report layout is excellent, with an adroit use of graphics. In total there are 19 in-depth intranet product reviews and a further 12 product overviews. The full profiles are around 30 pages in length. This is a smaller number of vendors than the combined coverage of the previous reports as ClearBox has taken a helpful view on which vendors are emerging as market leaders as this business sector matures. ClearBox also maintains a directory of intranet and employee communication applications.
The ClearBox team has identified five areas where all the products perform well.
- User experience is consistently strong
- Internal communicators will be pleased by the features on offer
- Users are more likely than ever to find what they’re looking for
- A real sense of community can be built easily
- Mobile solutions have improved
However, analytics are generally disappointing, integrations could be more extensive, legacy features often fail to be upgraded in the quest for features that differentiate products from the competition in a quest for market share, and accessibility conformance is disappointing. As in previous editions there is a very valuable estimate of the license costs for each vendor at various installed base levels between 250 and 20,000 users. Everything is of course negotiable but so often a ball-park financial forecast needs to be made internally before any action can be taken towards purchase. It is very important to emphasis that just basing a decision on product scores and price is not a sensible approach to vendor selection!
This report is not only support for a purchase decision. It will enable you to benchmark your own application’s functionality and ease of use so that you can be reassured (or otherwise!) that it delivers against requirements. If you are running a SharePoint intranet it will also highlight the sometimes-considerable gap with independent intranet and employee experience applications. There is a very good section on the relative merits of the SharePoint, independent and build-you-own approaches.
The report runs to 676 pages but the visual and textual clarity of the report are both outstanding and you will not get lost as you work through the 110MB file. As you read through it you will be impressed with the insights that are offered on each vendor from consultants with considerable experience of both engaging with vendors and delivering successful intranets and digital workplaces to ClearBox clients.
I congratulate the ClearBox team on this outstanding report. I should also applaud the vendors who decided that it was in their interests to play the game the ClearBox way. ClearBox, the vendors, and you as intranet managers all gain significant benefits from the new business model for these well-established reports.