Crowdbase (discontinued) vs. HCL Connections

Overview
ProductRatingMost Used ByProduct SummaryStarting Price
Crowdbase (discontinued)
Score 2.0 out of 10
N/A
Crowdbase was collaboration software from the company of the same name in Quebec. The company has ceased operations and the product is no longer available.
$100
per month
HCL Connections
Score 9.2 out of 10
N/A
Connections from HCL Technologies (formerly from IBM, acquired by HCL in 2018) is a collaboration tool and employee digital workspace with key features like social analytics, blogs, document management, and a social network.N/A
Pricing
Crowdbase (discontinued)HCL Connections
Editions & Modules
No answers on this topic
No answers on this topic
Offerings
Pricing Offerings
Crowdbase (discontinued)HCL Connections
Free Trial
NoNo
Free/Freemium Version
YesNo
Premium Consulting/Integration Services
NoNo
Entry-level Setup FeeNo setup feeNo setup fee
Additional Details
More Pricing Information
Community Pulse
Crowdbase (discontinued)HCL Connections
Top Pros

No answers on this topic

Top Cons

No answers on this topic

Features
Crowdbase (discontinued)HCL Connections
Communication
Comparison of Communication features of Product A and Product B
Crowdbase (discontinued)
7.0
1 Ratings
HCL Connections
-
Ratings
Chat7.01 Ratings00 Ratings
Notifications7.01 Ratings00 Ratings
Discussions7.01 Ratings00 Ratings
User Ratings
Crowdbase (discontinued)HCL Connections
Likelihood to Recommend
2.0
(1 ratings)
9.0
(20 ratings)
Likelihood to Renew
-
(0 ratings)
7.7
(7 ratings)
Usability
-
(0 ratings)
9.0
(4 ratings)
Availability
-
(0 ratings)
10.0
(2 ratings)
Performance
-
(0 ratings)
9.0
(2 ratings)
Support Rating
-
(0 ratings)
8.0
(8 ratings)
Implementation Rating
-
(0 ratings)
7.3
(2 ratings)
Product Scalability
-
(0 ratings)
7.0
(2 ratings)
User Testimonials
Crowdbase (discontinued)HCL Connections
Likelihood to Recommend
Discontinued Products
I wouldn't suggest Crowdbasefor smaller companies, even for bigger companies a more integrated solution would be desirable. It may suit companies that want their collaboration separate from project management and CRM, but at least for our organisation it seems to make more sense to have most of our work tools in one place
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HCL Technologies
IBM Connections is well suited for larger organizations that need an internal social networking tool and are willing to deal with IBM and the complexity of the software. It is less appropriate for smaller organizations and those who don't want to deal with the complexity, or IBM's awful customer service and prices.
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Pros
Discontinued Products
  • Collaboration
  • Interaction with staff
  • Great way to engage staff and support each other
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HCL Technologies
  • The plugin for MS Office/Explorer has made saving and sharing working documents extremely convenient for me and my close colleagues
  • The newsfeed feature conveniently aggregates updates from the communities/people you follow. It's nice not to have to jump from community to community to see what's going on in the organization
  • The various apps can be used for several purposes. A little creativity goes a long way when establishing what type of information the apps can be useful for communicating
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Cons
Discontinued Products
  • It is very limited
  • Although it has an API it doesn't link to the services we use.
  • It isn't customisable like podio.
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HCL Technologies
  • The lack of a note-taking tool became a bigger and bigger issue as time went on. Our pilot users felt Connections was a natural place to take and share meeting notes – including photos, drawings, recorded audio, etc. – and were always frustrated that there was no easy, organized way to do that. We tried using a Blog, Wiki, etc. but nothing really resonated as a good solution for this.
  • The Wiki tool is weak, providing rigid structure but with few options. A Community can only have a single Wiki, for instance. Wikis are weak in the mobile app as well; they’re not even easy to navigate. Users ended up ignoring Wikis completely despite our efforts to get them to convert documents like guidelines, policies, procedures, handbooks, etc. into Wiki form.
  • The Windows Explorer plug-in was useful but required a lot of manual intervention to setup. For instance, once a user joins a Community in Connections, the Community also has to be manually added to the Explorer plug-in so the user can find, open and edit files with it. We felt this process should be much more automated.
  • Tagging is only relevant in the web UI and, to a lesser extent, in the mobile app. However, in the Windows Explorer plug-in, Tags are not usable at all making it difficult to find things that were easy to find in the web UI.
  • IBM Docs was not included in the on-premises deployment; it was an additional license so we did not test it. Documents, mainly Microsoft Office files, are still the single most common way our user community creates, shares, edits and presents information. That proved to be a major gap for our users, and slowed user adoption considerably. We considered testing it, but IBM Docs would only work for about half of our users so we found ourselves wondering if we really wanted to support two document editing platforms. IBM Docs also offers no way to work offline as far as we could tell. This also meant we would need to keep licensing Microsoft Office which is not cheap.
  • Consulting costs are high because the back-end environment is complex. Installing, administrating and even patching Connections is a fairly complex process. We needed to hire consultants to install our test environment and any major upgrades would’ve required additional consulting fees. Any 3rd party add-ons we looked at were highly technical in nature meaning…you guessed it, more consulting costs.
  • Administrating IBM Connections requires editing XML files in a specific, secure way that is typically done in a console. I love consoles as much as the next admin, but when you only use a console once every 2 months it means looking up all the documentation and re-educating yourself. A single change could take me 2 hours to implement. 3rd party admin dashboards do exist, at an additional cost, but IBM really should provide a much easier way to manage the environment.
  • The lack of in-person or online training courses, materials, videos, etc. really discouraged a lot of users. The only decent training we could find (marketing videos aside) was a single video series on Lynda.com which, of course, was an additional cost. In the end that video didn’t really help our users much beyond introductory concepts.
  • IBM includes reporting, but it’s a massive Cognos system requiring some serious hardware and Cognos expertise. We had neither, and would have ultimately opted for a 3rd party add-on for reporting and statistics.
  • An often overlooked concern is eDiscovery. Our contracted eDiscovery service extensively works with various ECMs, but had no idea how they would handle Connections data. The cloud version of Connections offers an add-on for eDiscovery, but as far as we could tell IBM offered nothing for on-premises deployments.
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Likelihood to Renew
Discontinued Products
No answers on this topic
HCL Technologies
Connections has continued to more than meet our needs from a collaboration point of view and we are currently working on integration with our IBM Websphere portal platform to provide an integrated collaboration solution. This scenario will provide our users the best both products have to offer in a single interface.
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Usability
Discontinued Products
No answers on this topic
HCL Technologies
Connections combines all the most useful abilities from various social networks. This makes it useful of course, but it also reduces user adoption time initially by allowing users to get comfortable with basic features. Once they are comfortable, it's easy for users to start exploring. They find new people in the organization to contact, new sources of information, etc. Before you know it, about half of the users are contributing back in some form -- and all with little or no training needed by IT.
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Reliability and Availability
Discontinued Products
No answers on this topic
HCL Technologies
Once Connections was installed, patched, etc. it was ALWAYS up. We only had to bring it down for OS updates to the servers. That seems to be typical of anything that runs on WebSphere; it's bulletproof and could probably run for months and years if the underlying OS didn't require constant patching.
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Performance
Discontinued Products
No answers on this topic
HCL Technologies
IBM Connections web UI, mobile app (data sync to / from the device), and file transfer speeds were almost always very fast. It was rare for a slow-down of any kind, even when doing searches.
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Support Rating
Discontinued Products
No answers on this topic
HCL Technologies
IBM Support has ALWAYS been quick to respond, regardless of the product. Even first level techs seldom provide "canned" responses and they really try to help. If they can't help, they don't wallow around but engage the right person immediately. It's very rare that the first level tech needs to escalate, and even more rare when they do escalate and the next person engaged cannot solve it. We have been more than satisfied with IBM support's quick and professional responses to our issues.
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Implementation Rating
Discontinued Products
No answers on this topic
HCL Technologies
Try to understand you will never find a product which suites all your end user for 100%. IBM Connections is the best of all breeds but if you go look on each functionality on its own there are better example out there. But as IBM COnnections delivers it all in just one platform makes it the best example about integration of different functionality into one platform.
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Alternatives Considered
Discontinued Products
Crowdbase's strength may lie in its ability to do just one main thing well, but for us this was a massive limitation. I know that it is not trying to be Podio and it is therefore unfair to compare the two but there are features that overlap. for us Podio was better suited.
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HCL Technologies
From the few times that I have used MS SharePoint, I can say that it doesn't seem to hold a candle to the robust features of IBM Connections. The out-of-the-box capabilities of IBM Connections are amazing and are more easy to access and use than what I've seen with MS SharePoint.
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Scalability
Discontinued Products
No answers on this topic
HCL Technologies
Scaling UP is never an issue with IBM's core technologies like WebSphere, DB2, etc. as long as you have or can find the technical resources to implement it. Where IBM seems to fail is scaling DOWN for smaller organizations. Connections 5.0 on-premises would have required us to create 7 servers -- yes, they would be virtualized, but still that's 7 OS licenses, 40 virtual CPU cores, 80GB RAM, and a few TB of hard disk space. All to replace Quick which runs on 1 server with 1 OS license, 4 cores, 8GB RAM and 600GB of disk. Granted, there are major differences in capabilities between the two, but how do you get a CFO understand why features like a mobile app, file sync, and social sharing require 10x the back-end resources?
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Return on Investment
Discontinued Products
  • Encourages communication
  • Easy to use
  • Before crowdbase we never though of collaborating this way
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HCL Technologies
  • Positive - Using IBM Connections has reduced the number of directories and file share repositories previously used for collaboration.
  • Positive - The direction is to stop relying on email for the only method of communicating and sharing knowledge. IBM Connections is in the right step.
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