Forrester Rates Top 'Listening' Platforms/Vendors

Social media is a great tool for measuring consumer sentiment -- if you’re using the right “listening platform.”

Aiding in the decision process, Forrester has released a 64-criteria evaluation of enterprise “listening” vendors, which it breaks down by product fit, customer success, and Forrester client demand.

Fresh off its acquisition of Cymfony, Visible Technologies shared the top spot with Radian6 thanks to their flexible dashboards and inventive road maps. “The landscape consists of many strong performers,” according to Zach Hofer-Shall, social intelligence analyst at Forrester, and lead author of the report.

Additional standouts included 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.



Whichever vendor marketers choose, Hofer-Shall insists that social intelligence -- or the process of turning social media into actionable business insights -- requires some level of technology assistance.

“The social Web is simply too big, too fast, and too full of irrelevance and spam to manage alone,” Hofer-Shall says. Forrester eliminated vendors that had limited customer references, and products that didn’t fit the scope of its evaluation.

Most listening platforms help capture social data, manage and analyze its content through text analytics, and deliver insights in dashboards and reporting services.

Going forward, businesses evaluating the listening platform market have a tough task ahead, according to Hofer-Shall. Hundreds of offerings are competing for attention, selling solutions to simplify social media.  “Differentiating among vendors in the crowded landscape can be difficult and, due to recent market movements, is only getting more complicated," he says.

Increased competition has let to industry consolidation. Along with Visible Technologies recently taking Cymfony off the table, Attensity bought Biz360 in April 2010; Lithium Technologies absorbed Scout Labs in May 2010; and SDL acquired Alterian in early 2012.

What’s more, while Radian6 still operates under its same name, it now sits under its parent company following the 2011 acquisition.

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