The Swiss army knive is often seen as one of the ultimate tool, while the only thing that is really great that you have an immense collection of mediocre tools. So in every situation your Swiss army knife can help you, not in the best way, it is not the top tool, though it is suffient. However if you wanted to one specific thing really well, you would most likely to go for a more specialized tool.
Same goes for software there is currently so much software around and especially in the social networking and collaboration space it doesn’t seem that vendors decide to be really good in one thing, but tend to think to build a multitude of features in all of their products. It is becoming a feature bonanza, without being really good in something..
The latest trend is for these kind of products to turn them selves in a ‘platform’ on which you can extend your on feature set. And of course it is nice to have a good platform with tons of features, however if you want to do something really well, you can’t since you have a platform with mediocre functionality, not the excellent functionality you need for that specific thing you want to do.
And then there is the rise of the niche software. Often services that are really great in one or two things and they are building on this to be even better. A trend that makes more sense, since there are not so many vendors that can service the complete world, however there are many who can be really great in doing 1 or 2 things right. Niche markets are (nearly) as profitable as mass markets for vendors.
So why not go for a few tools which are really great at the things they should do. These kind of tools have a certain line of thinking and support exactly that, nothing more nothing but just really good in the thing they are designed for. You can do with less features, you don’t need tooling that is trying to be everything for everybody, you need something that is really good in supporting you and your team in exactly the one or two things you do.
More tools shouldn’t be a nightmare
Having a multitude of tools shouldn’t be a nightmare, though somethings you should have arranged to deliver a good user experience is at least single sign on (you don’t want to pester your users with tons of signs and passwords to remember) and a good federated search that enables you to have one place to go to and get the information you want.
The last one can also replaced by a social networking solution which is more less the social glue between people and systems and which a often outperforming the traditional internal searches since humans are able to interpret information in a different way machines do, plus humans often have an extra bit of context.
Do not strive for mediocrity by using tools that pretend to be everything for everybody. Use the tools that are really great in the things you need, use the trend of nichefication to service your needs in the best way, instead of ending up using a Swiss army knife to chop down a tree.