Just Published: The Forrester Wave™ For Community Platforms

The community platforms market has been heating up for the past few years.  Today, there are more than 100 vendors in the space, and we evaluated the top 5 in our most recent Wave: Lithium, Jive, KickApps, Telligent, and Mzinga.*

When we started this research, we spoke with many interactive marketers to understand what they look for as they assess community platform vendors.  Through these conversations, we determined that some of the criteria has evolved since the last time we looked at the space, and so our evaluation has placed a greater emphasis on: 

  • The vendors’ specific focus on interactive marketers as key customers for their business.
  • Strategic and technical services offered by the vendors.
  • Intuitiveness of the tools and administrative console for less- or non-technical users.
  • Ease of deployment for marketers who want to minimize their dependence on IT resources and timelines.

Our research revealed a maturing market with vendors beginning to differentiate their offerings.  Particular features and functionality — rich profiles, moderation tools, forums, commenting, etc. — are table-stakes, so other lines of demarcation are being drawn, like marketing-focus, enterprisewide social tools, and self-service widget building.

If you’re a Forrester client, you can read the full report here. As with all Waves, the document comes with a customizable tool that will let you see the full details of the criteria we considered and plug in your own weightings according to your unique needs.

Also as with all Waves, this was a collaborative effort so I’d like to thank everyone involved:  the vendors who participated, Forrester’s Wave team, my colleagues on Forrester’s Interactive Marketing team — and an extra-special shout-out goes to Jenny Wise and Angie Polanco for keeping me on track and on schedule.  Thanks everyone!  


*Pluck initially qualified for inclusion in the Wave too, but they’ve filed an S1 and are in their SEC-mandated quiet period, so they were unable to participate.


About 5 years ago, before the

About 5 years ago, before the explosion of social media, many retailers considered developing or launched proprietary communities. My question is, how many communities will a consumer engage with overall? And within that group, how many will be commercial brand communities? Facebook connect and Facebook Fanbox provide so many of the basic community elements. The latest research from DDB showed that Facebook Users (more digitally social than the average) only "fan/like" 9 brands on average. NINE. Globally it looked a lot like the big guys... Nike, Coke, etc. etc. Vin Diesel (not kidding here, his fan base on FB is pretty huge). Anyway. The point is that there are still great reasons to have a proprietary community but consider Facebook as a potential alternative. Just my two cents.

Limited evaluation?


After reading the complete article, I am at a loss as to the absence of open source platforms.

Can you give any insight into your method?

Hope all is well:)


Hi Tony,In this Wave we

Hi Tony,

In this Wave we evaluated vendors on 60 criteria, which includes technology, strategic and implementation services and company positioning. We chose the vendors we evaluated on the basis of a screening questionnaire which asked similar questions at a high-level. These questions are designed to address the needs of the marketers we serve on the Interactive Marketing team, and lead us to evaluate highly organized full-service vendor companies in the space.

There are some great open source choices out there, but those choices are, by nature, largely technology-only choices. Of course there are a few packaged and distributed versions of the open source platforms, provided by companies that also offer implementation and strategic services, however they haven't yet matured to the point at which they'd meet our screening criteria.