Real Story Group Blog posts by Apoorv Durga Copyright (c) 2014, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 04/14/2014 00:00:00 60 IBM to acquire Silverpop #digitalmarketing #ibm Mon, 14 Apr 2014 13:32:00 +0000 Last week, IBM announced a definitive agreement to acquire marketing automation vendor Silverpop. Silverpop is an Atlanta, GA-based, 500-employee company. Its marketing platform "Engage" offers email-based campaign management and lead management, along with rudimentary landing page management.

In our last update to RSG's Marketing Automation and Social evaluations, we had mentioned that the company is a prime acquisition target as one of the few remaining major independent marketing automation vendors. All the big ones -- Oracle (Eloqua and Responsys), (ExactTarget and Pardot) and Adobe (Neolane) have already been active in M&A in this marketplace and so in that sense, this wasn't a big surprise.

Recall that IBM’s digital marketing offerings for the most part lie within its broader Enterprise Marketing Management (EMM) umbrella. EMM is a loose collection
of approximately about fifty distinct products of diverse origins and architectures. For marketing automation capabilities, the key pieces are IBM Campaign (formerly Unica Campaign), IBM Marketing Center, and a few other email marketing modules. In fact, marketing automation and social marketing functionality has been split across disparate products at a time when many competitors can offer a straightforward, point solution to these challenges.

Silverpop will likely change that. It is comparatively simpler alternative to their existing, rather complex offerings. Silverpop is also B2B focussed as opposed to IBM's existing capabilities that are predominantly B2C. Still, this will be IBM's fourth or fifth different email campaign management solution, depending on how you count.

A lot depends on how IBM executes the merger and integrates the offerings. IBM already promotes a catalog of about 100 SaaS-based offerings, which Silverpop will join. However, it is entirely possible that Silverpop will get lost in this vast sea of multiple and overlapping offerings. We'll keep watching and informing you about what we learn. Meanwhile, you can check out the existing reviews of IBM EMM and Silverpop, or download a free sample.

Updated ECM reviews including Documentum, IBM, Alfresco, Oracle, Microsoft, OpenText, and others #Cloud #ecm Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:23:00 +0000 This week, we release a new Version 10 of our ECM research. It's a major release and you'll find a lot that's new. Below, I highlight the key changes:

New category of vendors

We now define two categories in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM). These are:

  1. ECM/DM vendors who provide a wide range of services around document and enterprise content management
  2. Cloud-based File Sharing & Sync (CFS) vendors that offer cloud-based services for  lightweight document management, collaboration, sharing, and sync services

The latter is a new category. Popularized by consumer-oriented services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and so forth, vendors such as and Syncplicity (now part of EMC) can provide broad services for cloud-based file sharing, sync, offline work, and lightweight collaboration for enterprises. 

At first blush, it would appear they are two separate marketplaces. However, we’ve found out from our research that there is considerable overlap of services between these Cloud-based File Sharing (CFS) vendors and ECM vendors.

And so, we've renamed our set of evaluations to "ECM and Cloud FileSharing Report."

New Evaluation Scenarios

We revisited our crucial vendor evaluation scenarios and simplified them, to make it easier to compare vendor "fit" across business cases. In particular, we dropped a few scenarios and clarified several others.

New Functional and Technical Evaluation Criteria

Just like scenarios, we also refreshed our evaluation criteria. Specifically for functional criteria, we have added sections on Mobile Access as well as File Sync & Sharing services. For technical criteria, we have added a new section on Cloud Services.

And then you'll all new evaluations of individual vendors. For now, we have updated all the ECM vendors and incorporated existing research CFS vendors.

You can download a sample here.

Webinar: Is Your ECM/DM Cloud-Ready? #Cloud Tue, 08 Apr 2014 20:16:00 +0000 The Enterprise Content Management marketplace has been roiled by upstart — but increasingly successful — cloud-based file-sharing (CFS) vendors. Traditional ECM software vendors have responded in diverse ways, including acquiring cloud services, building-out cloud-enabled services, or creating completely separate, cloud-based products.

From a customer perspective, this means you have more choices than ever, though most options will bring integration challenges. Join me tomorrow, Thursday at 12:00 pm ET / 16:00 UTC or 09:00 pm ET / 01:00 UTC for a review key things to consider when evaluating Document Management/ECM in the Cloud. We'll also provide a brief overview of the marketplace for these services — based on our soon to be released ECM vendor evaluation research.

OpenText Suing Box and Dropbox Buying Readmill - What Does It Mean? #Cloud #EntArch Wed, 02 Apr 2014 16:19:00 +0000 The past few weeks have been abuzz with news in the cloud-based file sharing and sync marketplace. Box filed for an IPO in March, then Dropbox acquired Readmill (h/t David Hobbs), and now OpenText is seeking damages from Box for patent infringement.

This activity strengthens my belief that cloud-file sharing as a simple, stand-alone category of tools is not going to persist for long.

OpenText (who sell multiple content management offerings and has its own cloud-based file sharing service called OpenText Tempo Box) says Box infringed 12 patents in areas such as "System and method for the synchronization of a file in a cache", "Method and system for facilitating marketing dialogues," and "Web-based groupware system." It seems hard to believe these pertain just to cloud-based file sharing and sync capabilities, but OpenText has certainly picked a propitious time to put Box's feet to the fire.

Similarly, Dropbox's acquisition of Readmill shows an industry stretching beyond simple file sharing services. Readmill is a social reading app that allows you to comment, annotate, and participate in discussions while reading a book online on your mobile devices. This gives Dropbox the ability to offer collaborative authoring capabilities such as those provided by Workshare, as well as online document viewing capabilities provided by Box's recently launched "Box View" (which came to Box via its acquisition of Crocodoc).

Cloud file sharing and sync tools have proved immensely popular on the consumer web and are now increasingly targeting enterprise customers. This category of tools got popular due to the simplicity and ease of use of consumer facing services -- such as Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive -- but that may not prove differentiating in the future.

These platforms will increasingly become complex as they transition into areas beyond simple file sharing.  As a result, many tools from adjacent marketplaces will start offering these capabilities as part of their overall functionality. We're already see this happening in case of Document Management vendors, most of who have started offering similar services. Similarly, collaboration vendors and even enterprise software vendors (think provide similar offerings.

For you the customer, the key thing then is to think long term and evaluate if a stand-alone cloud-based file sharing and sync tool is the way to go.  You have several options here.  We discuss some of these in our recently released advisory paper "Giving Your Salespeople Mobile Access to Key Documents: Strategic Options."

Mobilizing your Salesforce: EMC|Documentum, IBM FileNet, SharePoint, Box, or...? #mobile #Cloud Fri, 28 Mar 2014 14:06:00 +0000|Documentum-IBM-FileNet-SharePoint-Box-or...? Your enterprise salespeople are increasingly mobile. More than ever, they need access to collateral — brochures, presentations, contracts, pricing charts, and so forth — while on the move. How can you provide effective access to the latest documents for salespeople who aren’t tethered to your internal enterprise network?

It sounds like a simple question, yet from a functional standpoint, numerous key requirements emerge. And likewise you can chose from a panoply of technology options, ranging from traditional document management tools, to cloud-based file sharing and sync tools, to CRM and collaboration platforms.

Our just-released advisory paper, "Giving Your Salespeople Mobile Access to Key Documents: Strategic Options", evaluates four major strategic options for your enterprise to address the needs of salespeople (as well as other mobile employees.)

The paper also mention key tools for each of the options that we discuss. Our forthcoming update to the document management evaluations provides an in-depth review of all these vendors.

When your incumbent WCM or Portal platform won't work for mobile-first #mobile #cio Wed, 26 Feb 2014 13:34:00 +0000 Its no longer uncommon to see mobile-first strategies for application development. After all, the number of mobile Internet users is growing at a much faster rate than those that access the Internet from non-mobile devices. If you still have doubts about a mobile-only strategy, just remember WhatsApp is a mobile-only service that Facebook acquired for a huge sum.

However, to implement a mobile-first strategy, remember that mobile users have different requirements (and not necessarily a subset of web interface) and contexts.  To account for this, you may need a dedicated and capable mobile development and deployment platform.

Your existing enterprise software tools -- such as your Web CMS or Portal tools -- can take you only so far.  The argument in their favor is that the these tools separate content or raw information from its presentation. So then if you already have a content management system managing content for your website, then it is just a matter of creating a new template optimized for mobile. But is it really that simple?

Probably not, especially if you want to go mobile-only or mobile-first. Your incumbent web delivery platform will work for very simplistic mobile scenarios. As you increase the complexity -- in terms of devices, operating systems, application capabilities, and so on -- this fails to become a scalable model, and you should start considering specialized tools.

One way to look at enterprise mobile platforms is to determine what they actually do. Consequently, we examine these key categories of attributes:

  • Devices & Development Services: This includes support for different types of "apps" (native, hybrid, web), OS and device support, capabilities of development environment and the extent to which they support "native" features
  • Deployment & Delivery Services:  This category includes mostly mobile middleware capabilities such as cloud services, integration, reporting & analytics, security and management services

Of course there are other evaluation criteria besides the above functional features. This KMWorld article summarizes how to go about evaluating this tools. Of course, our Enterprise Mobile Technology evaluations go much deeper and provide an in-depth review of around 20 vendors including Antenna, IBM, Kony, Motorola, SAP, Verivo, Adobe, Appcelerator, Netbiscuits, Oracle and others.

What does a vendor really mean when they say they cloud? #cio #Cloud Mon, 24 Feb 2014 11:09:00 +0000 One of the attributes that we evaluate in most of our vendor evaluation reports is "Cloud Services."

By “Cloud Services,” we mean to what extent can a particular solution get deployed in a cloud, by you, the vendor, or a third party. It's actually not always a simple proposition, but as enterprises seek to decrease infrastructure spending and free up IT resources, the cloud has risen to the forefront on many agendas.

Definitions of cloud vary and at the very outset, you'll want to distinguish between Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS), Platform as a Service (PaaS), and Software as a Service (Saas). Beyond that, when a vendor says they “do cloud,” it could mean a variety of things:

  1. The vendor certifies its software for installing in virtualized environments. Many vendors now offer versions of their software that can be installed in a virtualization environment such as VMWare. Other virualization environments such as Oracle’s VirtualBox are not that popular though and sometimes all the modules/features don’t work in a virtualized environment.
  2. The vendor or one of its partners offer managed hosting on a traditional version of the software in a datacenter somewhere. You still have control over customizing, extending, and upgrading the software; really, they're just replacing your hardware and network connections with theirs. We could debate whether this is truly “cloud,” but it may be useful.
  3. The vendor or one of its partners offers to host your software -- such as document management instances in a public cloud service, like Rackspace, Amazon, or Azure. You'll find many variants here. You could host your document management application on-premise, but take advantage of cloud elasticity for your content delivery infrastructure, to support global delivery or spikes in activity. Alternatively, you could split your storage between an on-premise setup and a cloud-based setup. The vendor (or their partner) may or may not manage your relationship with the cloud provider. The vendor may or may not convert its one-time license fee into a monthly subscription model. As always, you will need to pay more money to the cloud vendor to achieve greater levels of redundancy, reliability, and global dispersion. Also, don't forget the cost and hassle of VPN connections to your cloud instances.

    As above, you are still running “traditional software” as a dedicated instance and are responsible for whatever changes you make to the application, unless the vendor includes that as a managed service. Note that not all on-premise solutions will work in the cloud today.
  4. The vendor has built a multi-tenant, SaaS solution from the ground up. You'll find only a few serious SaaS options in the document and records management marketplace.

Nevertheless, be wary of hosting companies or other vendor partners that take on-premise software and convert it to multi-tenancy to sell as a shared service to more customers; this frequently does not end well.

We'll have more to say about different cloud related aspects in future blog posts as well as evaluations.

Should you use a portal platform for your workflow and business process needs? #cio #EntArch Wed, 12 Feb 2014 12:38:00 +0000 A common question keeps popping up among our subscribers: when to use built-in services within a portal technology platform, versus opting for a third-party solution.  Sometimes this question arises in connection with workflow services.

Many portal platform implementations entail workflow services. Since portals usually provide access to multiple systems, the ability to define multi-step procedures that can span multiple systems and actors may prove a critical feature for you. Also, most portal tools provide some sort of content management -- either for managing website content or for managing documents.  By extension, most portal tools also provide workflow or Business Process Management (BPM) capabilities.

So should you use portal-provided workflow capabilities or integrated an external tool -- such as a Document Management tool like Alfresco, Documentum, Nuxeo, or one of the others that we review in our Document Management research?

The short answer is that in general, portal platform workflow services are usually somewhat lightweight, but typically come included in the price, and decently well integrated into the portal. Pure-play workflow or content management tools tend to be substantially more robust, but represent an additional license fees, and greater integration work.

While simple task-based workflows prove sufficient for many use cases, you might require more sophisticated BPM capabilities to model complex business processes or even as a basis to integrate multiple applications. Portals often provide a simple web based interface for workflows but when it comes to BPM, you will likely need to master a third party DM or BPM product, or manipulate complex APIs yourself to create those processes.

Of course, the portal vendors will disagree and point you to their "sophisticated" BPM capabilities. So if your requirements include complex business processes, take extra time to understand how portal vendors can truly help you model and execute such processes with real-world tests.

You can learn more in both our Portals and our forthcoming Document Management research.

Self assessment of our 2013 predictions #DigitalWorkplace #trends Fri, 17 Jan 2014 08:23:00 +0000 Every year, we make technology predictions about the various content technology marketplaces that we cover. And rather uniquely, we go back and see how we fared. Here are our assessments of our 2012 and 2011 predictions respectively.

And here's how we fared with our 2013 predictions:

  1. SharePoint 2013: Consultants Rejoice, Customers Yawn
    Yes. In spite of what Microsoft's nifty demos would have you believe, SharePoint is a complex platform especially when it comes to customizations beyond really simple tasks. You require consultants for that. A lot of them.
  2. Trans-Media Trumps Multi-Channel for Brand Marketing
    Yes. At least smart marketers are doing this. With improvements in technology, it is relatively easier to target your message based on context and channel instead of broadcasting the same message to all channels.
  3. Convergence of Social Media Monitoring and Social Media Marketing
    Yes, this is happening big time. Customers are increasingly using inputs based on monitoring of the social web and using that for their social marketing campaigns. Vendors are attempting to respond, mostly via acquisitions but true integration still remains a stretched goal.
  4. Cloud Adolescence: Business and IT Both Deal with Growing Pains
    Another yes. We continue to see Business as well as IT teams struggling even with basic Cloud issues.
  5. Web Content & Experience Management Vendors Litter Systems with Outbound Digital Marketing Services
    Sort of. Perhaps this was an overstatement. WCXM vendors did add many such services, but they are also responding to a marketplace that seems to prefer integration with best-of-breed digital marketing tools.
  6. The Autonomy Debacle Reverberates Across Several Technology Sectors
    This happened but only partially. While there were no big-time acquisitions in WCXM space, the search market really didn't open up as we had predicted.
  7. Document Management and Cloud File-Sharing Vendors Compete Head-to-Head
    Big Yes. We have seen a lot of short-lists with DM and CFS vendors on it. Both category of vendors are trying to spread their wings and building capabilities to provide services across both marketplaces.
  8. Contextual Mobile Delivery Rises to the Fore
    Certainly Yes. Context is becoming increasingly important as enterprises begin to switch from device management to multi-channel experience management. Hiding content based on screen size is becoming yesterday's news.
  9. Big Data Gives Way to Useful Data
    Another Yes.  Small-but-better-quality trumps Big.
  10. Rise of Social Media Compliance Concerns
    Did not happen in a meaningful way. Sure, Social Media compliance is indeed a concern but we didn't see any major differences from what it was last year.  Companies in heavily regulated industries may have to slog their tweets through onerous workflows, but increasingly they are engaging...
  11. Broadcast & Media Management Focus on Social TV Strategies
    Yes and No. Yes because Social TV certainly got more popular. The industry embraced second screen apps and companies like Samsung and Apple acquired second screen app companies. And No because MAM vendors were not at the forefront of this change.
  12. Several DAM Vendors Morph into Digital Media Management Suites
    No not really. Although some DAM vendors do provide other capabilities (such as document management), there's been no meaningful change in their overall positioning.

Okay, so we hit the nail on the head 8.5 out of 12 times (Yes - 7 times, No - 2 times, Partial Yes - 3 times) with .5 for predictions that were partially correct. That's not as high as it was last year but not that bad either in my opinion.

Let us know if you'd like our detailed inputs of any of these or if you'd like to talk to us about any of the marketplaces we cover.

When it rains, it pours (Oracle) clouds #digitalmarketing #Cloud Mon, 06 Jan 2014 17:41:00 +0000 Late last year, Oracle announced it has agreed to acquire Responsys for $1.5 Bn.  San Bruno, CA-based Responsys makes marketing software and targets B2C scenarios.

Oracle already had Eloqua as part of its Marketing Cloud. Both Eloqua and Responsys have similar functionality; it is the focus that was different (B2B vs B2C). So along with the software, what's also important is that Oracle also gets Responsys' 1000 or so employees who have deep expertise in B2C marketing scenarios -- something that Oracle lacked, with its traditional focus on B2B.

Of course, Oracle is not the only vendor to have multiple marketing software tools in their arsenal. Salesforce also has somewhat overlapping tools in ExactTarget and Pardot, so Oracle has just gotten even.

As a customer, choices mean you have access to a broader set of capabilities, spanning a very diverse range of scenarios from a single vendor. This means you have fewer vendors and contracts to deal with (even if not immediately), and signing up for "all you can eat" types of deals can have cost advantages also.

Let's look at some of the technical dimensions here though.

According to Oracle,

"With Responsys, the Oracle Marketing Cloud now provides leading business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B), content and social marketing capabilities on a single platform, supporting any industry or business model"

So what is this single platform?

At a high level, there's Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud, which in turn consists of a Sales Cloud, a Commerce Cloud, a Service Cloud, a Social Cloud, and a Marketing Cloud. Each of these have multiple suites and products. Social Cloud consists of products acquired from Vitrue, Collective Intellect, and Involver. Similarly, Marketing Cloud now consists of Eloqua and Responsys, each of them having multiple modules.  So for example, Responsys' Interact suite actually has five products/modules namely Profile, Program, Campaign, Insight, Content and Connect.

As you can see, even if we concentrate only on Social and Marketing Clouds, there are considerable number of modules, products and overlaps in that "single platform."

Oracle has done this before; at some point in time, they had four or five different Portal products. However, it took a really long time for them to actually consolidate and integrate multiple offerings. So while it may be a good thing to get different options from one single vendor, just be very skeptical of what a "single platform" means. Take your time to understand and account for different complexities and overlaps across different products and then chose the right products for your needs.


Apache Cordova supports Ubuntu Touch -- How long before IBM, Oracle, and others follow? #cio #EntArch Thu, 02 Jan 2014 10:45:00 +0000 Apache Cordova, the open source hybrid app development environment, has released a new version (3.3.0 for those tracking it). This release fixes a lot of bugs for Android, Windows and Blackberry devices. More importantly, it also now supports Ubuntu Touch and Amazon's Fire mobile operating systems. My colleague Tony in this post had talked about rise of Ubuntu and other platforms, and why we need to pay attention to them.

Apache Cordova is very popular not just amongst developers but also amongst other enterprise mobile technology vendors. The big vendors like IBM (Worklight), Oracle (ADF Mobile), Adobe (PhoneGap), and several others use Cordova as the basis of their own tools. These vendors bundle their own value adds on top of Cordova and extend its capabilities for their customers.

However, there's a key shortcoming that you need to be aware of if you were considering one of those tools that OEM Cordova. These tools don't use the latest version of Cordova; in fact some of them actually use a very old version of Cordova. This has two implications:

  1. You won't get latest features (such as support for Ubuntu Touch in this case)
  2. Upgrades could be painful, since those vendors have created their own extensions

Now, some of this lag is only natural.  When a manufacturer releases a new mobile device, upgrades an operating system, or releases a new SDK, Cordova implements it and then commercial toolmakers implement it even later. There's a lot of testing that goes in between to make sure everything works.

However, from your point of view, this lag should become one of your evaluation criteria when evaluating these tools. Find out how long does it take for a vendor to implement support for new features released by device manufacturers. Of course they'll detail the difficulties predicting lags against future changes, but you can look at past history; unlike financial markets, past performance here can actually be an indication of future performance.

And finally, the emergence of new mobile operating systems such as Ubuntu elevate the importance of cross-platform development tools. We evaluate more than 20 such tools in our Enterprise Mobile Technology Research.

Oracle playing catch up with EMC and OpenText for Cloud File Sharing and Sync #ecm #Cloud Tue, 10 Dec 2013 12:18:00 +0000 The more customers I speak to, the more I'm convinced that cloud-based file sharing (CFS) and sync services within enterprises are increasingly getting subsumed with enterprise software from other categories, most notably the Document Management and ECM tool vendors.

To refresh your memory, here's a sampling of vendors from our research that have something to offer for cloud-based file sharing:

  1. EMC: They acquired Syncplicity
  2. Microsoft: SkyDrive Pro
  3. Nuxeo: Nuxeo Drive
  4. Alfresco: Alfresco Mobile
  5. OpenText: Tempo Box

I have not mentioned Oracle in the list above but they are also working on a cloud-based service called "Oracle Cloud Document Service." It sounds like it might have something to do with Oracle's WebCenter Documents service, but the two are completely different (in fact, this cloud offering is not even a part of WebCenter).

This new service is Oracle's belated response to the likes of EMC and OpenText who already provide cloud-based file sharing and sync services. Oracle's offering wants to mimic services such as Dropbox and Box in terms of capabilities for light weight collaboration, file sharing, sync, and offline features.

For customers of Oracle's WebCenter quasi-suite, this could provide a useful supplement to be WebCenter Content, to provide additional sync and sharing service along with Oracle's enterprise security and administrative controls. However, remember that the new service is delivered stand-alone, so you can subscribe to it whether or not you have WebCenter Content.

But note also that it will take some time for this new service to mature.  Oracle had no choice to get in this game, given that their competitors already have something similar, but they are a bit behind.

I have in the past maintained that many DM/ECM products are not architected to provide simple cloud-based file sharing and sync services, which is why these vendors have been a bit sluggish here.  But given the obvious overlap between Document Management and CFS technology and use cases, I think we'll gradually see more and more DM/ECM/Collaboration type tools providing these services.

Of course, you'll still find subtle but important are differences among feature sets across different vendors. For example, some platforms require you to have the parent DM/ECM repository as a backend for file sharing, whereas some others can run stand-alone without requiring you to license the parent DM/ECM repository. As always, we will cover this and other differences in greater detail in our forthcoming major update to our Document Management (ECM) report.

Document Management and Cloud Files Converging? #ecm #Cloud Mon, 18 Nov 2013 20:24:00 +0000 In one of our predictions last year, we'd mentioned:

"...Document Management vendors will try to build (or acquire) file-sharing services, and file-sharing vendors will continue to build more sophisticated content services..."

Indeed, these segments are increasingly overlapping, as Cloud-based File Sharing (CFS) vendors build better Document Management (DM) capabilities (such as library services) and DM vendors build (or acquire) cloud-based file-sharing, sync, and lightweight collaboration services.

DM vendors actively trying to address this space include Alfresco (via Alfresco Cloud), EMC (they acquired Syncplicity), Microsoft (SkyDrive/Office 365), Nuxeo (Nuxeo Connect) and OpenText (via their Tempo Box offering). Meanwhile, collaboration/social vendors like Jive, Microsoft, and Salesforce have also entered the enterprise file sharing market. Other large platform vendors are not far behind; for example, Citrix acquired ShareFile. Oracle is working on its own offering to be released in near future, and IBM and HP are nibbling around the edges of this marketplace too.

One of the consequences of all this activity is that the two marketplaces -- Cloud File Sharing and Document Management -- are seeing some convergence. Customers invested in DM tools frequently consider deploying their incumbent technology for Cloud File Sharing and Sync scenarios. Similarly, many customers want to extend their usage of CFS platforms for basic Document Management services.

Stand-alone CFS tools make sense for many scenarios. However, for more complex and "enterprisey" use cases, customers will increasingly expect their existing enterprise vendors (DM or Collaboration) to also provide capabilities for advanced file sharing, including cloud and hybrid cloud-based services. Accordingly, we will be merging some of the vendors from our existing CFS report into the next release of our ECM/DM report. Watch this space for more details.

2014 Portals and Content Integration Market Analysis #cio #EntArch Fri, 15 Nov 2013 11:37:00 +0000 RSG has just published our 2014 edition of the Portals & Content Integration Marketplace Analysis. This advisory looks at how the marketplace -- both in terms of products and vendors -- is evolving.

Long and short: the marketplace for pure-play portal vendors is getting smaller. Many vendors avoid the term; others such as Oracle remain mixed on the moniker (e.g., dropping “Portal” from its product name only to bring it back).  But legitimate requirements for portal technology persist.

In addition to these trends, the briefing  offers a comparative analysis of the relative risks associated with each portal and content integration vendor via The Real Story Group “Reality Check” chart.

Fig 1. Portals and Content Integration Reality Check - 2014 -- full size

If you are a current subscriber, you can download the briefing right away. If you are not a subscriber, contact us to get the inside scoop.

Mobile App Development is about much more than UI creation #EntArch #mobile Tue, 29 Oct 2013 11:56:00 +0000 I've found a general mis-impression among some enterprises that mobile app development is really simple.  For some reason, many people seem to think mobile app development is just about building a mobile user interface, and as a result they focus primarily on the front-end. Some mobile development tool vendors exacerbate things by touting their "rapid development" capabilities.

Of course, front-end interface development is important, but there's so much more to creating an effective experience.  We find many customers underestimating mobile development effort (and not just the testing bits).

Actually, This Is Hard

My experience has been rather different, especially within large enterprises. Most enterprise mobile apps -- except for the really, really basic ones -- will require a non-trivial amount of development effort. For many scenarios, you may need to integrate with content management systems, application servers, identity management systems, workflow engines, ecommerce systems, public social networks, and/or different types of middleware, to provide backbone services used by your mobile app.

In such cases, you need toolsets that provide features beyond what a simple, drag-and-drop-based development environment can provide. Specifically, your developers will require tools that help them to design, develop, debug, test, and deploy.

Where Are the Vendors?

To support these development efforts, most (but not all) vendors that we evaluate support integration with the popular open source IDE, Eclipse. In fact, they usually provide a downloadable version of Eclipse that already bundles the required plugins so you can start creating apps right away. Alternatively, you can just download the plugin and install it on your existing Eclipse installation.

For more complex scenarios, your toolset should provide some sort of modelling environment that lets you model complex business processes and integrate with business systems within your enterprise architecture. A few tools that we review in our research -- such as SAP (Mobile Platform) and to some extent Oracle (ADF Mobile) and IBM (Worklight) -- provide these capabilities, but this is an area where most vendors lag and you will end up falling back on your "regular" enterprise application development tools for such services.

We dedicate a full section in our Enterprise Mobile Technology reviews where we evaluate development capabilities for each of the tools that we cover. Just remember that mobile applications should merit the same amount of rigor as does your regular enterprise application development. So don't underestimate the effort.

And as always, you'll want to invest in capable developers who understand well defined software development lifecycles (SDLC) for mobile development, aligned with best practices in architecture, design, development, and testing.

Why is Mobile Testing So Hard? #EnSW #mobile Wed, 16 Oct 2013 08:04:00 +0000 We often find enterprises underestimating the effort required to test mobile apps. After all, how much testing effort will it take if you are developing native apps for just two operating systems --  iOS (Apple's mobile operating system that runs iPhone and iPad) and Android?

A lot, it turns out.

Let's look at iOS first.

The latest version of iOS (version 7) runs on iPhone 4, 4S, 5 and the recently released 5C and 5S. All these phone models have differences -- e.g., iPhone 5x has a bigger screen size compared to iPhone 4's. From there differences run to capabilities such as screen resolution, camera capabilities, fingerprint recognition, and so forth. Of course, you can chose to ignore all the additional capabilities, but if you really want to use them, you'll also need to test your app epxeriences on iOS devices that don't have those capabilities.

Of course, iOS doesn't just run phones. It's also on iPads (again multiple versions), iPods, and even Apple TV. Plus there are older versions of these devices -- such as iPhone 3GS and iPad 1 that are still used in many markets globally.

This issue of device diversity becomes bigger in case of Android. In lieu of one, single build a' la iOS, you'll find multiple builds of Android for any given release. Apart from the stock build, each handset manufacturer and many telcos have their own builds, complete with proprietary bells and whistles.

And, finally, as compared to iOS, the differences in terms of screen sizes, capabilities, and limitations are even more pronounced because every manufacturer wants to try to differentiate their devices.

To be sure, creating just two version of a native app -- one for iOS and one for Android devices -- may be a good strategy, since by targeting just these two, you are covering close to 90% of your mobile users. Just make sure you don't underestimate the testing effort, and account for specialized mobile testing (including hardware testing) in your application development life cycle. Also, when evaluating Enterprise Mobile Technology, find out what sort of development tooling (including debugging, device emulators, and testing)  the tools provide and if you can integrate them with other 3rd-party testing tools.

We cover how well different vendors perform here (among other criteria) in our recently released Enterprise Mobile Technology report.

New Enterprise Mobile Platform evaluations of IBM, Oracle, Kony, Antenna, SAP, Adobe, and others #DigitalWorkplace #mobile Wed, 25 Sep 2013 10:27:00 +0000 Today RSG released a new Enterprise Mobile Platforms Report, which takes a hard look at the technology that supports the creation and delivery of mobile experiences for your customers or employees.

Version 1.0 of this research critically evaluates 21 major vendors, including IBM, Adobe, Antenna, Kony, Motorola, SAP, Appcelerator, Netbiscuits, Oracle, and others.

Key themes from this 205-page report include:

  • Mobile experience management is becoming a primary driver for enterprise investment in employee (B2E) mobility solutions
  • Application security -- not just device security -- has become a critical enterprise concern
  • Enterprises are increasingly in-sourcing business-to-consumer (B2C) mobile development and delivery capabilities
  • Vendors are responding by developing portal-like middleware to support mobile experiences after initial deployment 
  • The gulf between mobile web vs. native apps remains; thus, enterprises often need to support both approaches 
  • No single vendor excels at both B2C and B2E use cases, so large enterprises may need to consider multiple platforms
  • The enterprise mobile platform marketplace remains highly fragmented and immature

If you have pre-ordered a subscription to this stream, simply log in now to access all the evaluations in full or parts.

If you're not an RSG customer, you can download a complimentary excerpt. As always, we welcome your feedback.

PhoneGap/Cordova Vs Oracle and IBM Mobile Offerings #mobile Thu, 19 Sep 2013 13:29:00 +0000 So-called "hybrid" apps constitute one of the major types of cross-platform mobile apps. Under this approach, you basically create your app using web technologies -- HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript -- and then "wrap" it with a web-to-native wrapper that converts it into a downloadable app.

This approach has many pros and cons that we explore in our forthcoming Enterprise Mobile Platforms evaluation report, due out next week. 

Apache Cordova is a popular hybrid app development environment. It's open source and free, so perhaps as a result, Cordova is hugely popular amongst developers.

Now, many enterprise software vendors use Apache Cordova within their own offerings. In fact, Adobe's PhoneGap is based on Apache Cordova, and Oracle's ADF Mobile, IBM's Worklight, and several others platforms also embed it for hybrid development.

So a key question arises: if you develop your mobile experience using web technologies and use Cordova to wrap it, why license Oracle ADF Mobile, IBM Worklight, Adobe, or one of the other commercial vendors in the first place, instead of using Cordova directly?

Well, the short answer is that these commercial vendors have added additional functionality on top of the basic HTML5-plus-Cordova model for app development.

As an example, lets consider Oracle ADF Mobile. A key advantage -- or drawback, depending on how you look at it -- of employing Oracle ADF Mobile is that you rely principally on Java, giving you access a full-fledged programing environment to reflect sophisticated business logic. This is not something that HTML5- or JavaScript-based environments can match, especially for enterprise integration. Another related advantage is that you use Oracle's JDeveloper environment for developing your apps. As a result, you get access to all the enterprisey features – such as declarative bindings, visual development, and so forth -- of JDeveloper. You also get access to ADF capabilities such as Task Flows, data controls and host of pre-built components. 

Similarly, other vendors also bundle numerous value-added services and features.

Of course, you'll face trade-offs and will often sacrifice some flexibility. Again using Oracle ADF Mobile as an example, you'll find that Oracle ADF Mobile is not stand-alone offering. It is a part of broader Application Development Framework and Fusion Middleware. So while it may offer a good fit if you already use ADF in your organization or use other Oracle platforms, such as their WebCenter Portal or Application Server, it is certainly not suitable as an option purely for a stand-alone mobile application platform.

We explore many more benefits and drawbacks in much greater detail in our evaluation of 21 major Enterprise Mobile Platform vendors.


Major Updates to our Digital Marketing Technology Evaluations #digitalmarketing #socialmedia Mon, 19 Aug 2013 12:06:00 +0000 The digital marketing technology world moves quickly. To keep up with the changes, we have just released a major update to our Digital Marketing Technology vendor evaluations.

Version 2.0 of this report finds Adobe, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce cobbling together broad digital marketing capabilities via acquisitions. The research also evaluates key independent players, like Act-On, Marketo, SDL, SilverPop, Sysomos, and more.

We will look at some key themes in future blog posts, but for today, I'll share a bit about our updated methodology.

In this major overhaul to the Digital Marketing Technology evaluation research, we had two goals:

  1. Many of the large vendors have acquired smaller, stand-alone vendors to create “digital marketing suites”. We wanted to examine if the resulting packages are really "suites" and just how well are these big players adapting to rapidly evolving customer needs?
  2. To significantly update and revise the evaluation criteria, based on current trends in digital marketing technology marketplace -- social marketing in particular.

For point (1), you will need to review the in-depth critiques for each of those vendors. For now though, here is an overview of the changed structure.

New Categorization

We have always believed that while Marketing Automation and Social Media Analytics are separate technologies, they are part of the broader digital marketing marketplace. There’s a lot of overlap in these two areas and more importantly, the buyer of these two technologies tends to be the same: your CMO, or Marketing Department. More recently, some large vendors have acquired smaller companies in both these areas and have started offering platforms that have functionality for both. Consequently, we now have updated categories of vendors we cover. These are:

  • Digital Marketing Platforms: These are very different vendors that share a vision of integrated digital marketing, but come to this space from four very different directions
  • Marketing Automation Suites: These are vendors focused on Marketing Automation
  • Social Media Analytics (SMA) Platforms: These vendors focus on social media monitoring, intelligence and marketing

New Ratings

To simplify our summaries further and to bring consistency across different vendors, we evaluate all of them on the following Functional Services:

Marketing Automation Services 

  • Lead Management & Nurturing
  • Campaign Management
  • Landing Pages 

Social Media Analysis Services

  • Data Collection & Processing
  • Analysis & Presentation

Social Media Marketing Services

  • Social Media Site Management
  • Social Campaigns
  • Influencer Cultivation
  • Social Customer Support

As always, we review them in detail as well as provide summary ratings using Harvey Balls. For example, the following table shows ratings for one of the vendors:

So these were the key changes. We welcome your feedback. You can download a complimentary research excerpt or if you are a subscriber, you can directly download your updated copy.

Do Documentum, IBM WebSphere, and SocialText really compete? Which path should you take? #e20 #EnSW Tue, 13 Aug 2013 07:47:00 +0000 Nearly all the tools in the marketplaces we cover claim to excel in "collaboration" services. Who could possibly not?

To some extent the vendors are justified, since collaboration has many flavors. For example, enterprises looking to create more collaborative digital environments often ask us if they should use their:



Most portal tools now offer many base collaboration features such as Polls, Surveys, Tagging, Blogs, Wikis, Forums, and so forth. Not all of these are new, but together they offer the potential for more dynamic information sharing in the workplace. Additionally some portals such as Oracle WebCenter have the concept of “presence,” enabling employees to see if their colleagues are online — and if so, the capability to start an instant messaging chat. This can be a powerful way to collaborate, particularly if your team members are spread out globally.

Many enterprises, on the other hand, are discovering that collaboration can become an important attribute in effective document management, particularly for more knowledge-intensive, ad-hoc processes.  DM platforms still provide audit or other compliance requirements that are not met by the portals collaboration tools. Consequently, the focus of document management collaboration offerings is on secure, shared document authoring and review, usually within a specified workspace or portal.

And your choices are not limited to Portal or Document Management software. You could, for example, use Cloud File Sharing and Sync tools such as Box, Huddle or Workshare.

Finally, you have a number of specialized social and collaboration tools such as Jive Software, SocialText, Telligent,Drupal and many others.

Remember that "collaboration" will take on different meanings in different organizations. For some, it is peer-to-peer, using email and IM; for others it’s WebEx-style collaboration; for some it’s document-intensive collaboration; and for others, business value comes more from social networking. Think about what collaboration means in your context and select the right type of toolset for your requirement. Let us know if we can help.

Liferay vs. Alfresco for Document Management #EntArch #portals Thu, 08 Aug 2013 15:10:00 +0000 You might think comparing Liferay & Alfresco is like comparing apples and oranges, given each address different marketplaces (Portals and Document Management, respectively). But we're asked to compare these two very often. Many services, such as search and document management, are often included in portal software itself. As a result, enterprises almost surely face decisions about when to use portal-provided services and when to opt for a specialized product such as a document management platform, outside of that portal.

The former are usually somewhat lightweight, but included in the price and well integrated into the portal. The latter tend to be substantially more functionally rich, but represent an additional license fee (usually from a third-party supplier) and more integration work.

For example, document libraries is a common feature in enterprise portals. The out-of-the-box solution may meet basic requirements, but may also fall short on integration needs, such as extending a portal document library to include non-portal content, e.g., customer interaction notes and other unstructured data in a CRM system.

Another consideration is the range of features offered in the portal-based service. A portal vendor may OEM or license basic information retrieval tools from a search vendor, but exclude more advanced taxonomy and categorization tools. It also may include a document management component from a major document management vendor, but limit the number of documents in the repository. 

Some vendors (like Oracle) provide licenses for other products (such as their Content Server) as part of their portal suite. While the licenses are not feature constrained, they only can be used for applications within their portal suite. This prevents you from using the product in a broader enterprise scenario. To supersede these limitations, you need to upgrade to the “complete” version of the third-party tool. 

Indeed, search and other software vendors often provide “light” versions of their solutions to portal vendors free of charge, precisely in the hopes that customers will pay for upgrades (which they do with some regularity).

In short, you will usually have a choice between lightweight features in portal and more advanced functionality from third parties. Microsoft Office SharePoint Server has seen substantial success specifically because it offers simple tools for departments who may not be able to afford the expense of licensing and implementing a heavier-weight document management and collaboration tool from another vendor. 

However, portal tools have their limitations. If your enterprise has already invested in, say, a powerful Document Management tool, then it makes little sense to downgrade to the portal version of a document management system. Clearly, the decision to work with an out-of-the-box solution or choose a third-party tool is a balance between function, requirements, and cost.

If you need help weighting the factors in such decisions, be sure to refer to our portal and document management research.

Not all types of native mobile apps are created equal #mobile #EntArch Wed, 31 Jul 2013 10:31:00 +0000 A "native app" in the context of mobile applications is a type of application developed for a specific handheld platform. The platform usually refers to an operating system (e.g., iOS, Android, etc.) but can also include different mobile device types in conjunction with the operating system.

Native apps offer some advantages over mobile web apps, and many enterprises want to offer them to their employees and customers. As a result, many of the tools that we evaluate in our forthcoming Enterprise Mobile Applications Report claim support for native apps. But as always, the devil lies in the details. 

There are many ways to create native apps. Technically, even the "hybrid" web apps that run inside a web-to-native wrapper such as PhoneGap are native apps.  Meanwhile some other tools cross-compile code written in a scripting language (such as JavaScrip)t to native binaries. Still some others provide a run time environment inside which your apps run. Finally, you have the pure native apps that get created using native development environments (e.g., Xcode for iOS native apps). 

Note that these erstwhile "native" apps differ widely in terms of performance, look and feel, and support for native hardware features. Purely native apps that you create using native SDKs (such as Xcode) have full support for all hardware features. Hybrid native apps on the other hand have only limited support for native features. Other type of native apps fall somewhere in-between, and so there's a complete range of device-specific apps. 

So when you're evaluating tools, and a vendor claims they support native app development, it's important to understand the extent of native support very clearly. We evaluate this aspect for all the vendors that we review, along with several other evaluation parameters.

Updates to Document Management evaluations research - EMC Documentum #ecm #EMC Thu, 11 Jul 2013 09:00:00 +0000 We recently updated the EMC Documentum evaluation chapter in our Document Management research, as well as a few minor updates to other vendors. These updates incorporate developments due to new product releases, marketplace changes, as well as customer feedback.

Documentum "D7" was released late last year and sports many new improvements. The key enhancements are related to performance and deployment, as well as a new user interface and a few others. In this review, we take a particularly detailed look at the new user interface, called D2.

While Documentum 7 represents a significant upgrade to the platform, it still remains one of the most complex systems in this report. So as always, make sure you do full comparisons, tests, and proof of concepts against other leading document management solutions before committing a large investment with EMC.

Subscribers can download the updated evaluations here.


In Mobile Development, Run Everywhere can mean Debug Everywhere #mobile #EnSW Tue, 25 Jun 2013 07:59:00 +0000 "Write once, run anywhere" was a phrase used by Sun Microsystems as a major benefit for using the Java language. Mobile Application Platforms vendors have begun using the same phrase for justifying their value today.

To be sure, "Write once, run anywhere" (WORA) or "Write once, run everywhere" (WORE) has a tremendous appeal in mobile application development because of the huge number of mobile devices and mobile operating systems out there. Even within one device category, you can find many variations. So for example, iPhone and iPad have the same OS, but they differ in terms of screen sizes and other capabilities. The story with droids is even worse. The screen sizes start at around 2.5 inches and the latest from HTC and Samsung are as big as 6.3 inches.

Yet screen size is not the only differentiator. You can categorize mobile devices with other criteria as well, such as their intended use. There are phones and then there are tablets. And now increasingly we have "phablets" that are neither tablets nor phones, or they are both depending on your point of view. I can go on and on about this issue of device diversity but you get the idea.

For now, my point is simply that there's so much fragmentation out there that if you wanted to target multiple devices, developing individually for each of them would typically prove prohibitive, which is where cross-platform application development can have huge benefits. Besides, you can realize other related benefits, such as the ability to target any new platforms quickly, while maintaining comparatively smaller teams to manage deployments across all those platforms.

Now, while many tools claim to support cross platform application development, remember that there are many approaches to achieve this. The two popular approaches are:

  1. Hybrid. Using this approach, you write an app (called hybrid apps) using web technologies -- HTML, JavaScript and CSS -- and then wrap it with a layer that provides access to some native functionality, as well as the ability to install apps via app stores.
  2. Compile to Multiple. In the second approach, you write code in a common language just like in the first approach, but you compile the core of the application natively. Which means the end result is a native app written in Java for Android, Objective C for iOS and so forth. After you compile to native binaries, end users install those apps on their devices.

There are some other approaches too, but the key point is that while all these approaches follow the WORA model, differences in the end result can become quite significant. As a result, these approaches have their pros and cons and you should pick up the right tools (or combination of tools) based on your scenario.  We will provide much more detailed explanations and advice in our forthcoming report on Enterprise Mobile Application Platforms.

Meanwhile, be sure to evaluate any claims of cross platform development very carefully because -- as this 11 year-old article about Java and competing languages points out -- "Write once, run everywhere" can very easily become "Write Once, Debug Everywhere."