Real Story Group Blog posts by Apoorv Durga Copyright (c) 2014 RealStoryGroup.com, Inc. All Rights Reserved. http://www.realstorygroup.com/ www.realstorygroup.com : Blogs en-us 12/12/2014 00:00:00 60 Analyzing the Analysts - Assessing RSG's 2014 Predictions #cio #EnSW Fri, 12 Dec 2014 08:40:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2798-Analyzing-the-Analysts-Assessing-RSGs-2014-Predictions? Every year, we make technology predictions about the various digital workplace and digital marketing technology marketplaces that we cover.  Earlier this week, my colleague Jarrod published our 2015 predictions.

In the interest of keeping it real, each year we review our predictions at the end of the year and see how we fared. Here are our assessments of our 2013, 2012 and 2011 predictions respectively.

And here's how we fared with our 2014 predictions:

  1. Ascent of the "Sanctioned Second-Fiddle" CMS
    Yes, this is happening big-time. Many organizations that we talk to have standardized on a second, relatively simpler Web CMS for those scenarios that require more agility (think microsites) in addition to their incumbent “enterprise” WCM platform for more complex scenarios.
     
  2. Delayed SharePoint 2013 Adoption
    Yes. But frankly, this was obvious based on past (SharePoint) history and given that best practices as well as a broader ecosystem for SharePoint 2013 are still evolving.
     
  3. Microsoft Backtracks on SharePoint in the Cloud
    No way.  Redmond has doubled down on the cloud for SharePoint.  However, they appear to be commiting to upgrading SharePoint on-premise at least through 2019.
     
  4. Enterprises Start to Own Mobile Experiences
    Another Yes. As enterprises mature and mobile becomes even more important, organizations are indeed focusing more on a broader "Mobile Experience Management" as opposed to just managing devices and apps. Our savvier subscribers are setting up mobile CoEs and beginning to treat mobile development on par with enterprise software development.
     
  5. Cross-Platform Mobile Compatibility Gets Worse
    Big Yes here. Cross-platform is not just about Android and iOS any more. It's also about other devices -- Google Glass, watches, other wearables, as well as other Internet-connected devices. Even within Android and iOS ecosystems, you have to deal with all kinds of differences based on screen size and capabilities. E.g., Apple upped the game by releasing much larger iPhone 6s to co-exist with iPhone 4x, 5x, iPods and multiple versions of iPads.
     
  6. Standalone Enterprise Portals Marketplace Becomes a Two-Horse Race
    Yes again. Nearly all serious enterprise portal shortlists that we've seen contain Liferay and IBM. eXo no longer wants to be a portal tool and other platforms are increasingly focusing on specialized use cases.  SharePoint, of course, remains the key stalking-horse here, but remains more focused on collaboration than integration.
     
  7. "ECM" Will Finally Die
    No. Perhaps this was an overstatement. Even main-frames aren't dead yet.  However, we do see a continuing trend towards applications rather than behemoth document management infrastructures.
     
  8. Digital Marketing Suite Backlash
    Halfway Yes. Adobe, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce would have you believe they offer an integrated digital marketing stack but that's not the real story. Many of these suites still remain a collection of best-of-breed tools.  But we have not yet seen a customer backlash. Maybe this is one of those aspirational predictions: you should be concerned about the patchwork nature of these suites.  We do think a backlash is still coming, though, perhaps as soon as 2015...
     
  9. PaaS CMS Displaces SaaS CMS
    Yes. SaaS CMS players have mostly faded. Clearly Amazon is making the most money in web content and experience management these days -- simply by hosting traditional WCM tools.  Nevertheless, WCM customers continue to explore a range of hosting options, including good ol' on-premise.
     
  10. DAM and MAM Vendors Add Social and Marketing Features
    Yes, this has definitely happened.  You might not use your digital or media asset management system as your core social platform, but like nearly everyone else, DAM and MAM vendors have bolted on a variety of marketing and social features over the past year.

Okay, so that’s 7.5 out of 10 (Yes — 7 times, No — 2 Times, Partial Yes/No — 1). We give .5 for predictions that were partially correct. That’s not bad at all, in fact a bit better than last year.

Let us know if you'd like to understand any of these trends in greater detail or if you'd like to talk to us about any of the marketplaces RSG covers.

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Is Your Enterprise Portal Ready for the Mobile World? #mobile #portals Thu, 04 Dec 2014 14:00:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2791-Is-Your-Enterprise-Portal-Ready-for-the-Mobile-World? Of course, all portal vendors would answer "Yes" to that question. Many will point you to the fact that you can write a responsive Portal template that can show Portal content on mobile devices. But that’s really very basic.

When you evaluate enterprise portal technology, support for mobile experiences should be high on your list of criteria. Here’s a snapshot of what you should investigate.

Support for Mobile Web

A mobile website is often the starting point of the mobility journey for many enterprises. It entails developing a mobile-friendly version of your websites and applications and optimizing them for multiple devices and operating systems.

The assumption here, though, is that visitors primarily consume content, rather than really transaction-heavy scenarios. For supporting such a scenario, besides the ability to create responsive templates, a Portal tool should be able to provide capabilities to identify the device making the request and then based on the capabilities (and limitations of the device), it should be able to adapt the content, layout, and templates.

Support for Mobile Apps

In some cases, you will want to people to interact with your Portal via dedicated mobile apps. There are multiple ways to create these apps, but the key point to note is that you will most likely create these apps outside of your Portal environment (e.g., using a specialised tool). Now, even though the app resides outside the Portal environment, and probably uses a different technology, you still may want it to access content and functionality stored in your Portal.

In such cases, it becomes important that the Portal tool provides an easy way to access information as well as services programmatically (e.g., using an API), so you can use it within the mobile app with ease.

Portal as Mobile Middleware

You also need your Portal to provide middleware capabilities that are relevant for both the  scenarios above — i.e., for creating a mobile website as well as for supporting external mobile apps. These middleware capabilities include integration with external enterprise systems, integration with content management systems, reporting and so on and so forth.

So next time your Portal (or WCM) vendor says they can "do mobile,” you should evaluate their claims carefully. Meanwhile, vendor evaluation chapters in our Portals report specifically review the mobile capabilities of all the major players.

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Webinar Tuesday: ECM Marketplace Going into 2015 #trends #ecm Mon, 01 Dec 2014 16:02:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2794-Webinar-Tuesday:-ECM-Marketplace-Going-into-2015? Traditionally a relatively slow moving marketplace, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is now seeing a lot of activity, mostly due to developments in Mobile and Cloud-based technologies.

If you’d like to know what RSG thinks about this marketplace, join me for a fast-paced webinar tomorrow.

Date: Tuesday December 2, 2014

Time: 11:00-11:30 AM EST (16:00-16:30 UTC/GMT)

I'll provide a preview of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Cloud File Sharing (CFS) Marketplace, and provide a framework for you to evaluate the marketplace based on your own needs. Then we'll guide you through specific steps for selecting the best fitting document management or cloud-based file sharing tools for your enterprise.

During this webinar, you will gain an understanding of:

  • Trends as we go into 2015
  • How to evaluate ECM and CFS tools
  • Business scenarios, functional services, and technology services within the arena
  • The overall marketplace and its key players

Register here.

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

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Cloud File Sharing and Sync services in 2015 #Cloud #EntArch Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:27:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2788-Cloud-File-Sharing-and-Sync-services-in-2015? Cloud-based File Sharing (CFS) services first become hugely popular in the consumer marketplace. Services like Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive provide a very simpler way to sync your pictures (and other files) and share them with your friends. This simplicity of functionality and ease of use were the key drivers behind rapid rise of these services.

Evolution of Enterprise CFS Services

Naturally, people started to use these services in their workplace, and so a new category of services — with similar functionality but relatively deeper enterprise focus — was born. Some of these services are Box, EMC Syncplicty, Accellion, Citrix ShareFile, Oxygen, and Workshare (We evaluate these in RSG's ECM & Cloud File Sharing Report).

But Consumer and Enterprise Worlds Are Very Different...

As these services started to get widely used in organizations, there was a demand for additional “enterprise-y” features: integration with internal systems, security and enterprise controls, compliance, and so on.

Now, once you start adding these capabilities, you increase the very complexity that these products successfully avoided. And if you have to deploy a complex product, why not use a another complex product that you already have?

So ECM vendors started to build or acquire these capabilities. EMC acquired Syncplicity, while Alfresco, OpenText, Nuxeo, SharePoint, HP, Oracle, and most other ECM and Document Management vendors provide some sort of cloud-based file sharing and sync service.

Box, a major stand-alone CFS service provider is trying hard to expand its offering and wants to do much more than sync and share (more about this soon in a separate advisory for our subscribers). IBM is the only major ECM vendor without a CFS offering (and no I'm not speculating they’ll buy Box).

What’s Next for These Services?

Going forward, I believe there are two possibilities in terms of how standalone, cloud-based file sharing and sync services will evolve.

1) They’ll become a part of cloud infrastructure
The way ECM tools have traditionally provided repository services for other enterprise applications, these services could provide file-sharing as a service to other (mostly cloud-based) services. In a cloud-connected enterprise, file-sharing platforms will become comparatively easier to integrate and potentially serve as a repository for a variety of other, SaaS-based tools. I wrote about this earlier here and here.

2) Cloud file sharing and sync will just become a feature instead of a service
This will happen either because stand-alone CFS services will start building additional capabilities (a' la Box) or customers will increasingly use their existing ECM/DM vendors for file-sharing and sync services as well.

We will of course keep watching. Meanwhile, subscribers look out for the next release of ECM & Cloud File Sharing Report, which will have updated reviews of several of these services.

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Microsoft partners with OneDrive competitor Dropbox #ecm #Cloud Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:16:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2781-Microsoft-partners-with-OneDrive-competitor-Dropbox?

What's the deal?

According to this announcement, you will now be able to edit Microsoft Office files from Dropbox's mobile apps, access Office files stored in Dropbox from Office mobile and web apps, and share files directly from Office apps.

But there's a caveat

You will need Office 365 licenses to be able to take advantage of this integration. Regular Office licenses won't do.

What's in it for Dropbox?

Dropbox has been immensely popular cloud-based file sharing and sync service, especially for consumer-centric scenarios. In fact, Dropbox has served as something of a bellwether in this marketplace, and continues to influence many other tools in terms of functionality.

However, Dropbox has presented difficulties within enterprise environments, especially those that require sophisticated controls and need to support complex business processes.

To be sure, the vendor's current offering for enterprises -- Dropbox for Business -- is now in its second incarnation (first one being Dropbox for Teams). But it still has functional limitations for use within enterprises, especially larger ones. for example, a subfolder inherits permissions from parent folder and you can't give a different set of permissions to a subfolder. This means it could become very difficult to create different sharing schemes when you have large number of people, teams and folders.

Perhaps this partnership with Microsoft will help give Dropbox an additional push within the enterprises. If you're a customer with large Office deployments, don't just ignore Dropbox's functional limitations because it now comes with a "Microsoft partnership" badge.

Another interesting aspect here is that Microsoft already promotes its own cloud-based file sharing and sync service known as OneDrive. In spite of that, they went ahead and partnered with Dropbox. This seems indicative of the continuing power and autonomy of the Office team as Redmond's key profit driver.

Finally do remember...

... that a lot of other cloud-based file sharing and sync providers also provide some level of integration with Microsoft Office applications, mostly via exposing their storage as a set of WebDav folders that you can directly access from client applications, including Office applications.

So if you are considering this combination, make sure you evaluate enterprise considerations such as Integration, Security, Administration, and so forth besides this linking of Office and Dropbox. Our ECM & Cloud File Sharing vendor evaluation research can help you here.

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Updated ECM Evaluations include HP WorkSite, Alfresco, OpenText, Ever Team, and M-Files #EntArch #ecm Thu, 23 Oct 2014 07:31:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2773-Updated-ECM-Evaluations-include-HP-WorkSite-Alfresco-OpenText-Ever-Team-and-M-Files? We have just released an update to our ECM & Cloud File Sharing vendor evaluations.

The new release includes evaluations of three new vendors, one in the "ECM Platforms" category and two in the "Document Management Products" category.

ECM Platforms

We now include HP in this category along with IBM, Alfresco, EMC, Microsoft, Oracle, and others. HP WorkSite has seen many ownership changes over time but still remains a credible (if flawed) offering for professional services and legal oriented scenarios.

We also updated our Alfresco and OpenText reviews based on customer feedback.

Document Management Products

In this category, we've added two new vendors:

  1. M-Files Corporation: Finnish M-Files provides a simple, Windows-based document management system
  2. Ever Team: France-based Ever Team is notable for offering both Microsoft- and Java-based environments for its EverSuite offering.

Besides adding new vendors, you'll find updates for several existing evaluations based on customer and expert feedback.

As always, if you are a subscriber, you can log in and download your copy. If you are not, you can download a complimentary sample.

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A first look at Oracle's new cloud file sharing and sync #ecm #Cloud Wed, 15 Oct 2014 11:16:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2772-A-first-look-at-Oracles-new-cloud-file-sharing-and-sync? Oracle finally announced its public cloud-based file sharing and sync service. Called Oracle Documents Cloud Service (ODCS), it fills an important gap in the mega-vendor's Enterprise Content Management (ECM) offerings.

The new platform has been long-awaited, as it competes with existing offerings from ECM and Document Management vendors such as EMC, HP, OpenText, Alfresco, and Microsoft, as well as upstart players like Box.

In a fresh advisory briefing for our ECM stream subscribers, we look at what the Oracle platform offers, how it differentiates itself from others and what are the pitfalls you should look out for.

Now that most ECM as well as many other enterprise software vendors have some sort of cloud-based file sharing and sync service, a few questions arise...

Does it signify a start of the end of stand-alone file-sharing and sync services? What do you think?

Tweet me to continue the conversation.

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Enterprise Mobile Technology - A Changing Marketplace #mobile #EntArch Wed, 24 Sep 2014 12:43:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2741-Enterprise-Mobile-Technology-A-Changing-Marketplace? Last week, RSG released a major update to our Enterprise Mobile Technology platform evaluations.  The changes reflect a fast-evolving marketplace. Here are some key themes.

Evolving Tiers

As the mobile experience management marketplace has expanded, it's beginning to resemble most other advanced enterprise technology marketplaces in its 3-tier structure:

  • Infrastructure Vendors: Large IT vendors that have mobile offerings. We review IBM, SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, and Adobe in this category.

  • Mobility Specialists: These are vendors who focus on provide mobility solutions. We evaluate Antenna, Kony, Appcelerator, appMobi, FeedHenry, RhoMobile, Xamarin, and Verivo here.
     
  • Niche Offerings: These are highly specialized application environments or supplementary layers. We evaluate Corona Labs, July Systems, Kinvey, Service2Media, and Spring Mobile in this caregory

Customers who have already made broad investments in infrastructure from larger vendors always face the dilemma of whether to use mobile capabilities from those incumbent platforms, or to go with specialized mobility vendors. Our research helps clarify your choices.

Evolving Capabilities

The lines are increasingly blurring among Mobile Experience Management platforms, Mobile Application Management (MAM), and Mobile Device Management (MDM) tools. These still remain somewhat separate problem domains. But some vendors are beginning to promote (nominally) integrated offerings -- in particular incorporating MAM into other business services.

In our evaluation research, we've added a new parameter called "Application and Device Management," where we specifically call out these services on a vendor-by-vendor basis.

Emerging Players

In any newish marketplace, vendors rise and fall quickly. Three key players have arisen in the past few quarters: Salesforce, Xamarin, and Kinvey. We now cover each of them.

You can download a sample here or subscribe here.

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Should you use built-in application services from your enterprise portal platform? #EntArch #portals Tue, 23 Sep 2014 11:26:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2757-Should-you-use-built-in-application-services-from-your-enterprise-portal-platform? Enterprise portal vendors routinely market their toolsets by pointing to pre-built functionality.  In a previous post, I looked at the issue of out-of-the-box portlets available from vendors' portlet catalogs.

Now let's look at a related issue of bundled application services, nominally full-blown subsystems for which you would otherwise license a separate platform.

Bundled Application Services Bring Advantages

These application services can include things like built-in Document Management, Identity Management, Reporting, Web Publishing, Search, Workflow & Business Process Management, Mobile delivery, and so forth. In fact, many would argue these services are what differentiate a portal platform from an application server.

A key decision point here is whether to use these built-in services or license specialized tools instead. As with most other decisions of this nature, there is no universal answer.

To be sure, built-in services have obvious advantages. Integration (usually) becomes simpler.  And you don't need to worry about licensing other distinct packages, which in turn have their own hardware, software, and customization requirements.

What About the Trade-offs?

With specialized tools you almost always obtain a more sophisticated feature-set than what comes with built-in services.

Let's take the example of search, a common feature in most enterprise portal tools. A portal's built-in search service works out-of-the-box and is usually sufficient to search content stored within the portal platform itself. However, if you want to index information stored beyond your portal system (e.g., from your CRM or Digital Marketing platforms), the search functionality built into your portal may not be able to index those external systems.  In that case, you will have to consider external or specialized search engines.

In short...

You will almost always have to decide between using built-in but lightweight portal services versus licensing more sophisticated, external tools for key applications.  Microsoft SharePoint has seen substantial success specifically because it offers relatively simpler tools for departments or organizations who cannot deal with the complexity implementing heavier-weight document management and collaboration tools from another vendor.

However, portal tools have their limitations and so the decision to work with an out-of-the-box solution or choose a third-party tool becomes a balance between function, requirements, and cost.

We evaluate these application services in greater detail on a vendor-by-vendor basis in our Portals and Content Integration evaluations.

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Mobile Technology Updates to IBM, Oracle, Salesforce, Antenna, Kony, Verivo, and others #mobile #EntArch Thu, 18 Sep 2014 11:42:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2740-Mobile-Technology-Updates-to-IBM-Oracle-Salesforce-Antenna-Kony-Verivo-and-others? This week, RSG released a major update to our Enterprise Mobile Technology vendor evaluations. It's version 2.0 of this report.

I'll highlight some thematic trends some subsequent posts, but to give you an idea of what's in the new version, you'll find:

  • Updates to almost all the vendor evaluations in this fast-moving space
  • Several new platform evaluations (e.g., Salesforce) as players emerge, and some decline...
  • Changes to how we categorize vendors as the marketplace evolves
  • Additional evaluation criteria, as mobile technologies expand their scope

As always, you can review the vendor list and other research details.

Subscribers should go straight to your dashboard to download a copy.

If you're not yet a subscriber, you can check out a complimentary excerpt.

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Number of Portlets in WebSphere, Liferay, and Oracle -- Does Size Matter? #EnSW Mon, 15 Sep 2014 17:55:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2754-Number-of-Portlets-in-WebSphere-Liferay-and-Oracle-Does-Size-Matter? 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. 

 

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Will Firefox OS be a game changer for digital marketers? #digitalmarketing #mobile Thu, 04 Sep 2014 09:58:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2751-Will-Firefox-OS-be-a-game-changer-for-digital-marketers? 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.

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What the Dropbox price drop means for you #Cloud #ecm Fri, 29 Aug 2014 13:44:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2749-What-the-Dropbox-price-drop-means-for-you? 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...

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Webinar: How to Select the Right ECM Platform for Your Enterprise #ecm #EntArch Tue, 05 Aug 2014 12:38:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2735-Webinar:-How-to-Select-the-Right-ECM-Platform-for-Your-Enterprise? 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.

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Developing Mobile Apps is not sufficient for Mobile Experience Management #EnSW #mobile Tue, 29 Jul 2014 15:01:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2731-Developing-Mobile-Apps-is-not-sufficient-for-Mobile-Experience-Management? 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.

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What to make of the Apple-IBM partnership #mobile #EnSW Fri, 18 Jul 2014 09:18:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2726-What-to-make-of-the-Apple-IBM-partnership? 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. 

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Public vs Private Cloud for File Sharing and Sync #Cloud #ecm Wed, 02 Jul 2014 11:58:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2722-Public-vs-Private-Cloud-for-File-Sharing-and-Sync? 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.

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Oracle and Salesforce - More similar than different? #socbiz #socialmediaintelligence Thu, 12 Jun 2014 13:28:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2716-Oracle-and-Salesforce-More-similar-than-different? 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, Social.com 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.

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Should You Use CRM Platforms to Manage Documents? #ecm #mobile Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:32:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2718-Should-You-Use-CRM-Platforms-to-Manage-Documents? 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.

Advantages

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.

Disadvantages

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.

Salesforce.com 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.

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IBM, Oracle and Salesforce -- How integrated are their Digital Marketing Suites? #socialmedia #digitalmarketing Mon, 09 Jun 2014 12:31:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2717-IBM-Oracle-and-Salesforce-How-integrated-are-their-Digital-Marketing-Suites? 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. Salesforce.com 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.

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Webinar Tomorrow: Mobile Enabling Your Salespeople #mobile #ecm Tue, 03 Jun 2014 11:44:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2714-Webinar-Tomorrow:-Mobile-Enabling-Your-Salespeople? 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.

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Portals Research Updates to Liferay and Microsoft SharePoint #Cloud #mobile Wed, 28 May 2014 07:20:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2708-Portals-Research-Updates-to-Liferay-and-Microsoft-SharePoint? 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.

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ECM file sync - dedicated folder vs arbitrary folders #Cloud #DigitalWorkplace Wed, 14 May 2014 12:20:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2706-ECM-file-sync-dedicated-folder-vs-arbitrary-folders? 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.

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Salesforce ExactTarget Marketing Cloud introduces Radian6 Buddy Media Social Studio #socbiz #CoIT Mon, 12 May 2014 13:59:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2702-Salesforce-ExactTarget-Marketing-Cloud-introduces-Radian6-Buddy-Media-Social-Studio? 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.

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