Real Story Group Blog posts by Apoorv Durga Copyright (c) 2014, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 09/15/2014 00:00:00 60 Number of Portlets in WebSphere, Liferay, and Oracle -- Does Size Matter? #EnSW Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:55:00 +0000 Most enterprise portal vendors -- including IBM, Liferay, and Oracle -- brag about the number of pre-built portlets and applications that come bundled with their platforms. Then a question arises for you the customer: How much of a differentiator are these portlet catalogs when evaluating portal technologies?

The Case for Portlet Catalogs

One of the putative advantages of using enterprise portal technology is faster time to market by reusing existing components -- usually portlets, but also full-blown applications -- out of the box. Most portal packages come with many pre-built portlets. The portlets range from simple functionality like an RSS feed reader, to functionality that is more complex — such as productized connectors to back-end systems.

There are multiple ways to adopt these portals. Some get packaged as part of the core portal bundle. For example, Liferay ships with portlets for blogs, calendars, navigation, breadcrumbs, a document library, an image gallery, email, message boards, polls, RSS feeds, wikis, and so-on.

Vendors also host online catalogs where you can download many utility applications, usually driven by their communities and partners. As an example, IBM's Portal Catalog has many such applications (both free and commercial), offered by third-party suppliers.

That all sounds great.

The Industry Secret About Portlets

But let me share a dirty little secret within the portal industry. The vast majority of these portlets will not match your business requirements.

Here's a short list why:

  • Quality will vary from portlet to portlet
  • Design patterns (data access, logical, experience) will vary
  • They may not be performant
  • They may not prove extensible
  • They may have hazy provenance, which means support and security concerns
  • You may have to customize them so heavily that you'd have been better off building from scratch (and many integrators do)
  • The vendor likely won't support 3rd-party portlets
  • Community portlets may not prove upgradeable
  • You may face separate or additional licensing and fee considerations for each one

So make sure you test them well, especially if you download them from a community-contributed catalog.

To be sure, if your team builds portlets themselves, you may run into similar issues, but let's not pretend that an expansive portlet catalog is a great time-saver, especially if you are a larger enterprise with more sophisticated needs.  

What You Should Do

So to answer the question I asked earlier, when evaluating portal tools for your requirements, don't give too much importance to the number of portlets available.

Instead carefully evaluate vendors' claims and test how many portlets and pre-packaged portal applications can get reused in your scenario.

In RSG's portal platform evaluations, we include a separate section for each vendor offering called "Utility Applications" to assess this specific aspect.

You can download a sample here and see for yourself. 


Will Firefox OS be a game changer for digital marketers? #digitalmarketing #mobile Thu, 04 Sep 2014 09:58:00 +0000 Handset manufacturers have started launching phones based on Firefox OS, targeting customers in developing countries. The devices have modest hardware requirements (e.g., 128 MB RAM) and provide touchscreen-based, smartphone-type capabilities at fraction of the smartphone price.

Huge New Customer Base?

Okay, not quite a smartphone-killer, but still very good for $35. You get a camera, there's wifi, and you can access the web and most common services such as Facebook and Whatsapp. Most importantly, these phones target the large swath of humanity that remains offline today.

If you are a digital marketer -- particularly in the B2C realm -- you can potentially reach untold millions of new online customers.

That said, you need to keep some limitations in mind.  For example, most of these customers will be new to touchscreen phones. For most of them, this will be their first brush with the web and their only online device (i.e., no access to a desktop). Also, English may not be the best language to reach them.

Tweak Your Mobile Strategy

To deliver your content and services to these new customers, you may want to reconsider or at least tweak your mobile strategy.

Fortunately, unlike Android and iOS, you don't have to worry about learning a new API and development tooling. Firefox OS-based phones run HTML5 apps. So while customers can download apps from Firefox Marketplace (just as they would for iOS and Android apps) the apps themselves are nothing but HTML5 pages running inside a headless browser.

Web and Apps, Again

Mobile web versus native apps is one of the most hotly debated issues in B2C mobile marketing today. However, the emergence of newer operating systems such as Firefox makes this debate increasingly moot. It's not about one versus the other, but rather about using multiple approaches.

For many customers, especially in content-rich scenarios, what works is a mobile web app along with device-specific apps for certain use cases. If you have invested in a standards-based mobile development approach using HTML5 and web technologies, you will be able to address any new operating systems comparatively faster.

We cover different mobile development alternatives as well as how different tools support those approaches in our Enterprise Mobile Technology evaluation research.

What the Dropbox price drop means for you #Cloud #ecm Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:44:00 +0000 Cloud-based file sharing and sync service Dropbox received significant media attention in the past few days after reducing the price of its paid offering, Dropbox Pro, from $9.99 per month for 100 GB to $9.99 per month for 1 TB. This drop in price -- or rather, increase in storage (more about that in a minute) -- brings Dropbox in line with Google Drive, Microsoft OneDrive, and others.

I suspect most vendors will gradually lower their prices to remain competitive, and I wouldn't be surprised to see unlimited (or very high) storage quotas becoming a norm in the near future.

What is more important for you the customer, however, is the actually capabilities you obtain. Or in other words, what you can do with the technology.

Of course, Dropbox does have a lot going for it, especially for consumer-focused use cases. For example, its sync apps work reasonably well on most platforms (barring Windows Mobile) and you also get nice photo sharing features. You have access to some additional security features with Dropbox Pro; you can now attach a password to shared links, set expiry dates, and remotely wipe content if your phone gets stolen or lost.

However, there are many similar services out there, each with its own advantages. Consider:

  • Microsoft offers Office 365 along with 1 TB at a lesser price
  • Google has better integration with other Google services and offers more options in terms of pricing
  • Apple's forthcoming iCloud drive will presumably be better integrated with Apple's ecosystem
  • SugarSync gives you the freedom to select any folder on your desktop as a sync folder

That's just for starters. You have many more options, including more enterprise-focused vendors, many of who have individual user editions as well. (We evaluate them in our ECM and Cloud File Sharing evaluations.)

So before you rush to move all your files to Dropbox, remember it's not about the price of storage any more. Storage is a commodity, but enterprise-grade services are not. So test these well before you commit to one (or couple of them).

And hey Dropbox, if you are reading this, many users don't need 1 TB and so would have preferred a more tiered plan instead of a 1 TB threshold to get the extra capabilities that come with the Pro edition. But then 200 GB for $2 wouldn't sound as cool as 1 TB for $9.99...

Webinar: How to Select the Right ECM Platform for Your Enterprise #ecm #EntArch Tue, 05 Aug 2014 12:38:00 +0000 I know that many of you have basic questions about Enterprise Content Management (ECM). For example:

  • Are File-sharing and Collaboration part of ECM?
  • What about Records?
  • What is the difference between BPM and Workflow?
  • Can we use ECM tools to share files a' la Dropbox?
  • How can we best provide mobile access to documents for our salesforce?

If you're asking these or similar questions, join me for a fast-paced webinar next week.

Date: Wednesday August 13, 2014

Time: 12:00-12:30 PM EDT (17:00-18:00 BST) (16:00-17:00 UTC/GMT)

I'll look at the overall ECM and Cloud File Sharing marketplaces and provide a framework for customers to evaluate alternative solutions based on their own needs. Then I'll guide you through specific steps for selecting the Document Management or Cloud-based file sharing tools that best fits your needs.

Attendees will gain an understanding of:

  • ECM concepts, including Business Services, Technology Services, and Vendor Intangibles
  • Business scenarios against which ECM tools can be evaluated
  • An overview of the marketplace, key players
  • How to evaluate and select the right vendor for their requirements

Register here.

If you have any specific questions in the meantime, just tweet (@apoorv) and I'll try to address that in the webinar.

Developing Mobile Apps is not sufficient for Mobile Experience Management #EnSW #mobile Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:01:00 +0000 When planning new enterprise initiatives or extending existing implementations, most customers now include mobile access to their enterprise applications as an essential requirement. This often leads to a discussion of "apps" and then requirements for a mobile application. While that is an essential exercise, it may not be sufficient.

In our evaluations of more than 20 Enterprise Mobile Technology vendors, we address the most common considerations that you should think of when you decide to get serious about mobile.  There are a number of issues that you have to consider and consequently number of decisions that you have to take.

Some of the considerations that we address and provide advice around are:

  1. Which devices to target? We highlight the issue of device diversity in terms of operating systems, capabilities, and device types, as well as what it takes to target properly
  2. Decision tree in terms of deciding what type of mobile apps you should develop: there are many types of mobile apps -- pure native, cross-platform, hybrid, mobile web and others. What are the pros and cons and what approach is suitable for you?
  3. Most incumbent platforms -- such as your existing Portal or ECM tools -- provide mobile apps. Should you then just use any native apps provided by those incumbent tools?
  4. A mobile application is much more than a stand-alone app. It often needs to integrate with existing repositories as well as non-mobile applications. How do you then align your mobile architecture with overall (non-mobile) architecture and experience?
  5. What about "mobilizing" existing applications?
  6. If there are  specific Management and Administration implications, how do you address them?  

This list is not an exhaustive, but a sampling of most common issues that our customers face. We address these (and others) as well as  how each of the individual products in our evaluations incorporates (or doesn't incorporate) these.

If you want to know more details, here is the link to our existing evaluations. You can also download a sample here.

What to make of the Apple-IBM partnership #mobile #EnSW Fri, 18 Jul 2014 09:18:00 +0000 Since the days of this 1984 commercial when Apple supposedly attacked IBM, the two firms have come a long way.

As you know, they announced a new partnership around four core areas. Quoting from their PR statement:

  • A new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions including native apps, developed exclusively from the ground up, for iPhone and iPad;
  • Unique IBM cloud services optimized for iOS, including device management, security, analytics and mobile integration;
  • New AppleCare service and support offering tailored to the needs of the enterprise; and
  • New packaged offerings from IBM for device activation, supply and management.

What They Get Out of It

Apple wants to get a huge push for its enterprise ambitions riding on IBM's relationships. Sure, Apple's devices (iPad and iPhone) are popular within enterprises, but Apple has never really been an enterprise-focused company. Focusing on enterprises requires not just a new mindset (e.g., how do you deal with enterprise relationships) but also a host of new capabilities around enterprise concerns such as administration and security. IBM offers these.

IBM, on the other hand could win additional services business by way of managing AppleCare administration and related support opportunities. IBM also has many products in its "MobileFirst" offering, including those for app development, application and device management, testing and so forth. This partnership could be helpful in selling more of those as well.

But this is all really vendorspeak. 

What About You the Customer?

Let's look at this from your perspective.  What do you really get here?  Perhaps not so much.

If you are hugely invested in both IBM and Apple, and have standardized on Apple's devices  within your organization, this partnership could offer better integration and management capabilities. Fine.

But businesspeople also care about capabilities that will make them more effective at work, and here you should remain skeptical about the value of "a new class of more than 100 industry-specific enterprise solutions."  Enterprise apps are not as commoditized as consumer apps. Enterprise apps have vastly different requirements in terms of integration with varied back-end systems, security issues, administration, and so forth. So even if you find a suitable app, you will probably have to customize it for your specific requirements.

Moreover, when an increasing number of organizations are encouraging employees to bring their own devices (BYOD) to work, fewer will want to restrict their employees to Apple devices. You don't want to ignore the large amount of Android devices out there -- especially for firms outside North America. The lesson of Blackberry's demise is that today, enterprise applications will not typically drive employee device adoption.

When it comes to tablets, Apple's iPads may still have an edge within the enterprises but that foothold may become tenuous, again particularly if you look at it in a global context.

If IBM were truly customer focused, it would come up with parallel offerings for Android and others. 

Public vs Private Cloud for File Sharing and Sync #Cloud #ecm Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:58:00 +0000 Our ECM and Cloud File Sharing (CFS) evaluations cover a number of cloud-based file sharing and sync tools. While you'll find many functional differences among these offerings, you'll face a particularly important technical decision related to security and storage choices.

At some level, all the tools cater to “secure file sharing.” All of them encrypt files, have strict policies for data center security, and implement password-controlled access. While this will suffice for many organizations, other customers will require more stringent security services. In some cases, this becomes matter of perception, but other times, you may need tighter control on documents due to confidentiality, or legal requirements to maintain certain documents in a particular locale. You may also seek better control over reporting and compliance-related issues.

To cater to such scenarios, some tools offer alternative deployment models that allow organizations to plug in their own storage systems lying within the organization’s own data center (and therefore IT control). Whether an on-premise location truly improves security is debatable, but the fact remains that some tools provide you with the flexibility to mix and match options in such a way that you can store some types of files (the ones that are highly confidential, for example) within your own storage environment, and keep other, less critical files in the public cloud.

So if you were considering tools and vendors such as Dropbox, Box, Accellion, Citrix, EMC, Oxygen, or Workshare, remember to evaluate their offerings for private cloud deployment if security and sophisticated enterprise controls lie at the top of your list. We evaluate storage, security, and other aspects in our recently updated ECM & Cloud File Sharing evaluations. You can download a sample here.

Oracle and Salesforce - More similar than different? #socbiz #socialmediaintelligence Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:28:00 +0000 In our recently updated Marketing Automation and Social Technology evaluations, we review a number of Digital Marketing Platform Vendors including Oracle and Salesforce.

Oracle and Salesforce represent two very different vendors that share a vision of integrated digital marketing, but come to this space from very seperate directions. Salesforce is trading on the strength of its CRM facilities, while Oracle has cobbled together a surprisingly wide array of social functionality.

What's common though between these vendors is that both of them have created their suites mostly via acquisitions.

In 2012 Oracle acquired four companies – Eloqua, Vitrue, Involver, and Collective Intellect. Of these, the last three form the basis of Oracle’s rebranded "Social Relationship Management" (SRM) Suite. Oracle Eloqua Marketing Cloud is a separate offering for marketing automation.

Salesforce's story is similar too. It acquired ExactTarget, Pardot, Buddy Media, Radian6, and a few others to create its own "integrated offering" called "Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud."

However, beyond this similarity, the individual products that make up Oracle's and Salesforce's respective suites are quite different when it comes to specific functionality, with markedly divergent weaknesses and strengths. We review these similarities as well as differences in detail in the updated reviews.

You can download a sample here.

Should You Use CRM Platforms to Manage Documents? #ecm #mobile Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:32:00 +0000 In a webinar last week on options for enabling salespeople to access documents, one alternative I discussed was to use your incumbent salesforce automation / customer relationship management (SFA/CRM) platform for document management. Many CRM platforms now provide interesting capabilities like basic document lifecycle management and file sharing as part of their core services.


This option has several advantages. If your salespeople already spend considerable time in one of those environments, then they can carry out basic file sharing and document management in context of their everyday business flow. So for example, if salespeople use your CRM for managing leads and prospects, then documents such as brochures can be managed as part of lead management process.

Similarly, customer related documents such as bid responses, contracts and other similar documents can be managed in a CRM system in tandem with your standard bid and sales processes. Essentially, your salespeople can access documents “in the flow” of their daily work without having to go to another, disconnected application.

The second key advantage is that when you use an existing platform, you save on licensing costs as well as potential integration costs with an external document management system.


But there are trade-offs in using this approach. If you are using multiple different systems, you will have documents spread all over and there won't be single "source of truth".  Also, this approach is like a walled-garden, meaning you may not be able to see and use those documents outside of that CRM platform.

Finally, mobile access presents yet another challenge. Mobile interfaces into CRM-type tools could prove overly complex for simple file sharing. In fact, salespeople will frequently need a different mobile app for file-related functionality when separated from that platform’s core functionality. Also, you will likely not get advanced features beyond really basic ones -- such as sync across multiple devices and so forth. is probably the most well-known example here, although several other platforms offer similar document and file management services. In fact, Salesforce offers multiple options, most notably Salesforce Files (earlier called Chatterbox). However, that offering is undergoing significant changes in the wake of Salesforce’s acquisition of connector vendor EntropySoft. Salesforce has had multiple changes to its document management strategy and that should give enterprises some pause.

Fortunately, you have many more options to enable your salespeople to access your company documents, including using a document management platform or licensing one of the cloud-based file sharing and sync tools.

We evaluate all the major players in our recently-updated ECM and Cloud File Sharing evaluations. As always, you can obtain a sample here.

IBM, Oracle and Salesforce -- How integrated are their Digital Marketing Suites? #socialmedia #digitalmarketing Mon, 09 Jun 2014 12:31:00 +0000 IBM, Oracle and Salesforce -- three "Digital Marketing Platform" vendors we recently updated in our o Marketing Automation and Social Technology evaluations -- have created their suites by acquiring numerous companies, many of who in turn had previously made their own acquisitions.

So if you want to do "end-to-end digital marketing", should you go with one of these suites or opt for point solutions?

In theory, there are obvious benefits of going with a single mega-vendor: it's easier to manage relationships, licensing, contracts, and so forth. The vendor might also give you a single point of accountability, should something go wrong.

However, as things currently stand, the suites are not nearly as integrated as the vendors would like you to believe.

IBM EMM is a loose collection of about fifty distinct products of diverse origins and architectures. Some of the pieces of EMM are integrated but many are not. only recently took some first steps by introducing ”Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio". Oracle's story is slightly better -- you can now access all of the services that Oracle acquired from a single interface that connects everything via single sign-on (SSO).

Also, it seems likely that these suite players will make further acquisitions in this space, because there are still gaps in their offerings. So while these vendors have a vision of providing "end-to-end digital marketing", it will take time for them to truly integrate their offerings, if at all.

Nevertheless, many of products that these companies have acquired were well regarded on their own. So for now, you should evaluate their features based on their individual merit and not based on the fact that those services are part of a larger suite.

In fact, in Digital Marketing, whether you actually need very tighter integration between these modules itself is a debatable aspect. So instead evaluate individual offerings within the suite and spend some time understanding how easy is it to integrate with external products such as your Web Content Management or Portal platforms.

We have more details about these platforms as well as many other vendors in our forthcoming update to Marketing Automation and Social Technology evaluations. You can download a sample here.

Webinar Tomorrow: Mobile Enabling Your Salespeople #mobile #ecm Tue, 03 Jun 2014 11:44:00 +0000 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?

In this webinar, we’ll try to address this issue. We will look at the key requirements of salespeople in detail. We will then evaluate four strategic options for your enterprise to address the needs of salespeople (as well as other employees who need these services). We’ll also look at key tools for each of these options.

It’ll be a short (30 min) but a fast-paced webinar. You can register here.

Portals Research Updates to Liferay and Microsoft SharePoint #Cloud #mobile Wed, 28 May 2014 07:20:00 +0000 Earlier this month, we released updates to our Portals and Content Integration evaluations. The new version focuses on significant upgrades of Microsoft SharePoint and Liferay Portal.

Our Liferay review has been updated for release 6.2. The key changes are related to new mobile delivery capabilities (along with a new mobile SDK) and a re-designed admin interface. We also take a critical eye to Liferay's new Marketplace, its new collaboration architecture, as well as its personalization capabilities.

As you know, Microsoft SharePoint 2013 represents a major upgrade to SharePoint 2010. However, we argue that for enterprise portal services, it’s more an upgrade in degree than kind, even if the much vaunted (though little used) “app store” gave it some short-term street cred. What's new is Microsoft’s emphasis on the cloud-based version of SharePoint, now an integral part of Office 365. We evaluate portal services in the cloud, and much more.

You can of course download detailed evaluation of each of these vendors as well as the complete report here.

Besides this report, there are a number of advisory papers as well as webinars related to Portals that subscribers can access as well.

ECM file sync - dedicated folder vs arbitrary folders #Cloud #DigitalWorkplace Wed, 14 May 2014 12:20:00 +0000 One new feature that many ECM platforms (and all Cloud-based file sharing tools) provide is the ability to sync files across your multiple devices: desktop, laptop, mobile phones, and tablets. The idea is that you should be able to access your files -- and optionally complete tasks -- irrespective of your location or device type.

To do this, you typically install a client application provided by your vendor. It monitors your folders on the server as well as local environment, and syncs any changes between the server, computer, and other devices via device-specific apps. There are a number of variations here but you want to pay attention to how folders are synched.

Some tools such as dropbox and Box expect you to create a dedicated folder -- or create one automatically on installation. Then when you put in files in that folder, the service syncs those files with the server and other devices. What this means is that you will keep track of which files to sync and them copy (or move) those files to that specific folder resulting in duplication of files and other associated issues. The benefit of course is that this approach is simpler and straight forward.

Other tools, such as EMC Syncplicity, allow you to add any arbitrary folders to your sync list. The main benefit is that you don't have to worry about moving or copying files but instead you can keep working with files in their usual locations. Of course, when the number of sync folders increases, you might get into manageability issues.

We explore this and other aspects in much greater detail on a vendor-by-vendor basis in our recently released ECM and Cloud File Sharing evaluations. You can subscribe or download a sample here.

Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud introduces Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio #socbiz #CoIT Mon, 12 May 2014 13:59:00 +0000 No, that title is not a link bait.

Salesforce announced a new product called "Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio" which is part of its "Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud." In an age when 140 characters can have a far reaching impact, that's a rather longish name. But let's look beyond the name.

Salesforce's Marketing Cloud consisted of many products, including Radian6 for Social Media Analytics and Buddy Media for Social Media Marketing. In our evaluation of Salesforce, describe how Salesforce Marketing Cloud has been more of a marketing package rather than a truly integrated offering.

Salesforce took first steps to integrate some of the individual products within the suite and announced this new product earlier this week. As the name suggests, "Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio" is an integrated offering that provides capabilities from Radian6 as well as Buddy Media. It provides workspaces for teams to work together along with shared calendars, ability to publish to Facebook and Twitter, and social media analytics.

You may hear claims that it's not a "cobbled together solution," but rather a completely new platform. I don't believe that's entirely true. To me, it appears to be a new interface that pulls together a subset of capabilities from Radian6 and Buddy Media. The underlying platforms are still the existing ones. Nothing wrong with that, as those are platforms that are reasonably well regarded in their own right -- but calling it a new platform gives a different impression.

We will have more to say about this in our forthcoming updates to Marketing Automation and Social evaluations. But in the mean while, if you are evaluating Social Studio, make sure you understand what are the specific capabilities of Radian6 and Buddy Media that are available from within Social Studio.

Products in this space can be long in name but not always long on suitability for specific enterprise needs.

Thinking about encryption and security in your cloud ECM platform #Cloud #CoIT Fri, 02 May 2014 16:04:00 +0000 In our recently released ECM and Cloud File Sharing evaluations, we assess some new requirements, including:

  1. Mobile Access to ECM-managed content
  2. Ability to share and sync files across multiple devices (think Google Drive or Dropbox within your enterprises)
  3. Cloud-based architectures (of which there are several variants)

A common theme running through these requirements is security, and in particular how files get encrypted. This can especially resonate when employees use their own mobile devices to access documents residing in a cloud environment.

Different types of encryption

Of course there are many dimensions to security, especially in a cloud context.  With respect to external security, most ECM vendors will describe all kinds of advanced security algorithms to encrypt your files in remote locations. But, as always, you’ll want to look closely at the details here.

In particular, note carefully the difference between:

  • Encryption “at rest," while the files are stored in the cloud or on their servers
  • Encryption “in transit” or “in flight,” while the files are being transferred between the server and your devices or among different devices
  • Encryption at the "end-points" when the file gets downloaded

Most vendors say they encrypt files in-flight and at rest -- in their repository. However, not all vendors encrypt files when it resides at one of the end points – that is, after the file has been downloaded to your mobile phone or tablet. This has important implications because employees can leave organizations (and take their devices along) or devices can get stolen.

Some enterprises have recourse to address this latter challenge via mobile management platforms, which can do things like remotely wipe files when an employee quits or a device gets stolen. Some ECM vendors can do this too, but not all.

We closely evaluate these capabilities in our vendor evaluation research. Feel free to download a sample or let us know if we can help.

Which Hybrid Cloud Model Works Best for ECM? #cio #Cloud Fri, 25 Apr 2014 11:57:00 +0000 “Hybrid Cloud” is a deployment architecture in which you combine the capabilities of  different cloud-based deployment models (public, private, community, and so forth). This can potentially mitigate some of the security and compliance concerns that may arise in a public cloud environment.

These concerns are particularly germane for the enterprise content management (ECM) tools and consequently, hybrid clouds are somewhat of a rage amongst ECM vendors these days.

In fact, ECM vendors are increasingly claiming support for hybrid cloud solutions in a bid to exploit this trend. But as with everything else "Cloud", there are many variations of what "hybrid" means.

In this just-released advisory briefing, we analyze major variations among what ECM vendors term as hybrid cloud. As always, customers will want to fully understand the implications for each different approach before signing on.

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.