Real Story Group Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software blog posts Copyright (c) 2016, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 02/11/2016 00:00:00 60 Lessons from the Death of Google Search Appliance #google #trends Thu, 11 Feb 2016 13:17:00 +0000 Some Google implementation partners have passed along news that the vendor has decided to sunset its venerable Search Appliance.  GSA's 14-year run is nothing to sneeze at, but there are lessons for you the customer in its passing.

GSA is particularly interesting in this respect because it was arguably the first major attempt to lift-and-load consumer-facing technology into the enterprise.  Let's review some of the good and bad that transpired.

Positive Lessons

User Experience
Google's famous push to cut away extraneous user interface elements also applied to its search appliance.  The resultset page became so canonical that other search vendors started copying the CSS to make their results "look like Google."  A simplified UX also made transitioning to mobile much easier. Start-up digital workplace technologies like Slack have taken notice.  Of course, simplicity becomes more possible when you...

...Do One Thing Well
Google didn't try to make GSA into a multifunction server.  The appliance did one thing: spider your websites or intranet, index what it saw, apply a simple algorithm, and deliver results.  At a time of SharePoint and WebSphere-inspired über-platforms, Google pointed to a function-point approach that is increasingly gaining currency in large digital workplaces.

Negative Lessons

Enterprise Search Is Hard
GSA revealed that true, multi-repository enterprise search is a tough nut to crack.  Google's internet-inspired ranking algorithms often didn't work well in the messy stew of enterprise information.  Put another way: website search is not the same thing as enterprise search.  Thank you Google, for teaching everyone that -- hopefully once and for all.

Google Doesn't Do Customization
GSA famously relied on browser-based configuration rather than true customization to modify search behavior.  That works for simpler scenarios, but in the enterprise -- where customers have more complex security needs and specific search applications to roll out -- often you need to get closer to the metal. 

Application-level Search May Matter More
Savvier enterprise customers have not tried to build out one-size-fit-all enterprise search, and instead have focused on specific search applications embedded into specific user journeys.  If I'm searching in the benefits area of the HR portal, you don't need to include marketing spreadsheets in the index.  One of the quiet victories of the past decade has been substantial improvement in intra-application search, driven largely by the rise of the impressive Lucene ecosystem.

Google Doesn't Do Corporate Customers
Google is famous for hiring people with the promise that they will never have to deal directly with us persnickety customers.  It's one thing to have a reseller or channel sales model -- many successful WCM vendors do too -- but Google seems to want to shield itself from the woof and flutter of enterprise demands.  This drives them to fulfill lower common denominator needs, which for email has worked well, but for the rest of the toolset in the Apps for Work suite has limited Google's usefulness for enterprise collaboration (consult RSG's social-collaboration vendor evaluation research for more details). 

Consumer Tech Needs to Be Adapted for the Enterprise
Hopefully by now we all get this.  Successful consumer digital experiences can teach us a lot about usability, but work remains different than play.  In an ideal world work and play are both satisfying, but in different ways.  Much of the "magic" to any technology takes place behind the scenes, and for enterprise environments -- messy, multitasking, multiplexed, mega-secured, and multilingual -- the back-end can get very complicated indeed.  Witness what's happening in the consumer-inspired cloud file-sharing marketplace, where vendors are having to chose between personal and corporate customer bases.

Parting Thoughts

Google is rumored to be rolling out a more formalized cloud-based offering for enterprise and website search as a nominal replacement for GSA.  That's good for the market as a whole, but it probably doesn't untangle the Google knot for most enterprise customers. 

You might miss the little yellow appliances (they were cute), but if you're a GSA licensee, now is a good time to review your search strategy as whole.


Upcoming Webinars - Plus our most popular on-demand #DigitalWorkplace #wcm Tue, 12 Jan 2016 15:01:00 +0000 My colleagues and I want you to make the right technology decisions. While nearly all of RSG's research and advisory requires a subscription, we do offer complimentary public webinars.

Forthcoming Webinars

Webinar: Selecting & Implementing DAM: Trends for 2016
Jan 19, 2016 12:00 pm ET / 17:00 UTC

Webinar: Enterprise Social and Collaboration Marketplace Overview
Feb 3, 2016 12:00 pm ET / 17:00 UTC

Webinar: Selecting and Implementing Web CMS: Trends in 2016
Feb 10, 2016 12:00 pm ET / 17:00 UTC

Webinar: The Future of SharePoint and Your Digital Workplace
Mar 9, 2016 12:00 pm ET / 17:00 UTC

Public Webinar Archive

These archives are free to the public. Enjoy!

Webinar: Digital Marketing Software 101

Webinar: Avoid Making These Five Mistakes with Your Next Technology Procurement

Webinar: How to Select the Right Software in a Big Hurry

For Subscribers Only

RSG research subscribers may access the full library of all the recorded webinars and research. Here is a sampling of topics that can be accessed via your subscription:

Webinar: Digital Workplace & Marketing Technology Predictions for 2016

Webinar: Digital Marketing at Scale

Webinar: Enterprise Mobility in the Era of IoT and Wearables

Webinar: From Intranets to Digital Workplace

Get More Info

To answer all your questions about subscribing to RSG research, webinars, and personalized analyst advice, contact us at:


Real Story Group is Hiring Mon, 11 Jan 2016 20:07:00 +0000 We are excited to announce a new job opening for a full-time New Business Manager to join our Sales and Marketing team in North America. In addition to the normal sales prerequisites, this person must possess:

  • Impeccable ethical grounding
  • Entrepreneurial spirit
  • Desire to work as part of a close-knit team

Sound like you or someone you know? Read the full description and application instructions here.

Call for Participation - Survey on Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software #DigitalWorkplace #e20 Mon, 11 Jan 2016 13:33:00 +0000 At RSG, we have been tracking the enterprise collaboration and social software market for more than a decade now. Through all these years, we have been leaning heavily on the experience of practitioners like you to provide candid insights into technology effectiveness.

So, if you are involved in your organization's internal social or collaboration efforts please take five to ten minutes to participate in RSG’s survey. This survey assesses different issues like common use cases, tools, vendors, and challenges faced by organizations like yours.

We take privacy and discretion very seriously. All responses will be kept strictly confidential, and RSG will never publicly identify either you or your organization.

What You Get in Return

In return for your participation, you’ll receive a top-line summary of report findings when published, to contrast your experience with that of your peers. Please weigh in with your inputs and also help spread the word. Here is the link to the survey.

Below is a sampler of what the previous edition of this survey found - 


Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Market in 2016 #cio #DigitalWorkplace Wed, 06 Jan 2016 14:47:00 +0000 Today we released our annual briefing on the state of the Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software Technology marketplace. Subscribers can download the full analysis here.

  • The “Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software” market sees both growing maturity as well as an expanding set of credible offerings
  • Despite some pundit disinterest (some analysts have moved on to "hotter" topics), we find that enterprises are still experimenting heavily in this space
  • Vendors are responding by experimenting with new business and delivery models, highlighted most notably by Microsoft, which now takes a cloud-first approach to enterprise collaboration that nearly all of its peers are mimicking.
  • Concurrently, there is little consensus on core functionality or user experience design patterns; vendors continue to experiment in both cases, and the opportunity to outshine the competition has attracted even the likes of Facebook to revisit this marketplace.

The good news is that as a customer, you have more choices than ever.

One more thing you'll find in the briefing: a current snapshot of the key technology players circa Q1 of 2016 and where they lie on the change spectrum. Use this to assess if the vendors you are considering match your own enterprise tempo and can tango with you. Note there is no single magic square here - what matters most is idenfying the best-fit solution for your unique needs. 

Figure 1: RSG Reality Check for the Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Market, 2016. Click to enlarge

Subscribers can obtain the detailed briefing here. For more detailed reviews of the individual vendors, consult our complete evaluation report.


The Myth of Technology Analyst Independence #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Mon, 21 Dec 2015 08:26:00 +0000 Coming up on Real Story Group's 15th anniversary next year caused me to reflect: as far as I know we are the only technology analyst firm in the world that works exclusively on the buy side.

If you had asked me 15 years ago -- when the world was reeling from an equities collapse aggravated in part by conflict-of-interest shenanigans on Wall Street -- I would have predicted that the tech analyst community would split neatly between sell-side research and buy-side research.

But that has not happened, and you the customer are the worse off for it.

The Financial Industry Analyst Model

In financial research, the industry makes a clear distinction between "sell-side" and "buy-side" analysis. A sell-side financial analyst relies on information often spoon-fed from public companies to drive activity to trading desks (i.e., works primarily on behalf of sellers), while a buy-side specialist strives to inform better investor performance (i.e., works primarily on behalf of buyers). The same advisory or investment firm can employ both buy- and sell-side analysts, but they must isolate themselves behind "Chinese Firewalls," designed to prevent buy- and sell-side specialists from even talking to each other without a lawyer present.

That firewall gets breached with some regularity. Former top Salomon Smith Barney research analyst Jack Grubman famously declared in 2000 that, "What used to be a conflict is now a synergy," and, "Objectivity? The other word for it is uninformed." The US Security and Exchanges Commission declared otherwise and banned him in perpetuity from financial services for gross ethical misconduct.

The Technology Industry Analyst Model

A technology analyst community that fails to distinguish between buy- and sell-side is essentially channeling Jack Grubman. In the tech analyst community, the incentive to advise both buyers and suppliers is not perceived as a conflict, but a synergy. Analyst firms get rated by potential vendor sponsors according to how much influence they have over buyers.

Analysts walking both sides of the street can feel like gods. "I'm sculpting the industry," bragged Grubman, "I get feedback from [buyer] institutions and [seller] CEOs. It feeds on itself. It's a virtuous circle." Except the SEC concluded it was a vicious circle for investors. Technology analyst firms similarly tout their ability to advise customers based on insider knowledge of vendor plans -- plans the analyst firm often devised on the vendor's behalf for a lucrative consulting fee.

This system creates dilemmas for tech suppliers, but even more so for customers. If the analyst firm advised a vendor on their roadmap and execution, will that same firm ever dare to criticize the vendor who acted on those plans? In the analyst industry this scenario sometimes gets laughed off as "calling your own children ugly," and unsurprisingly, it doesn't happen often.

Individuals at major tech analyst firms consistently protest that they follow a rigorous personal ethical code. I believe them. But the system is corrupt. Those Magic Quadrants you download for free? The reprint rights are purchased by vendors who reside in the upper right.

The Impact on You the Customer

Let's review how these conflicts skew analyst firm vendor evaluations. Major analyst firms tend to pay more attention to the vendors that also have business relationships with them. This means that technology evaluations tend to favor larger vendors over smaller vendors, and commercial players over open source. Major analyst firms almost universally overweight vendors' marketing acumen and roadmap powerpoints -- which have no bearing on customer success -- and underweight things like vendor technical support and implementation resources.

As a result, you get a distorted view of the marketplace. How else would you account for CMS vendor Ektron ascending to a Leaders Quadrant just as the firm started visibly declining, or HP TeamSite's persistently high Forrester and Gartner ratings despite mass customer defections?

RSG's research is far from perfect. We deliberately emphasize implementation experience and vendor/product ecosystems, and that will bias our results. But this bias stems from wanting to serve a particular enterprise buyer profile, and not from the need to generate vendor advisory business or "sculpt an industry."

What Is to Be Done?

Alas, there is no SEC-like body to oversee the technology analyst industry. You can understand why not....we're not that important. But as enterprises turn ever-greater attention and budgets to digital transformation, the stakes have gotten higher and the conflicts of interest become all that more heightened.

Change will come when customers demand it. As a customer you should insist on greater transparency rather than platitudes. You can request that analyst firms either focus on sell- or buy-side exclusively, or implement "Chinese Firewalls" to separate buy and sell sides, with the same rigor as their financial analyst firm brethren.

In the meantime, let's call the mainstream tech analyst industry what it truly is: a conflicted buy/sell-side operation masquerading under the guise of independence.

Self-appraisal of our 2015 predictions #trends Thu, 10 Dec 2015 08:38:00 +0000 At RSG we don't future-gaze a lot but at the end of each year, we do make an exception and offer technology predictions about the various digital workplace and digital marketing technology marketplaces that we cover. Earlier this week, my colleague Jarrod published our 2016 predictions.

And rather uniquely, we try to see how we fared the previous year. 

That is, we go back and review our predictions to see how many times we hit the nail on the head. Here are assessments of our previous years’ predictions (2014, 2013, 2012 and 2011).

Below find a review of how we fared with our 2015 predictions.

RSG's 2015 Predictions

  1. DAM Vendors Will Roll out DAM Lite
    Yes. There is definitely greater action by vendors, especially newer vendors in SaaS-oriented DAM mirroring customer interest in DAM-lite.
  2. Hybrid ECM Will Come of Age
    Halfway Yes. "Hybrid" hasn't really come of age but organizations are increasingly experimenting with hybrid deployment approaches. For example, many enterprises employ a mix of public cloud for cloud-based file sharing scenarios but use on-premise or private clouds for documents that are more confidential or have security implications. ECM vendors are also improving hybrid cloud capabilities, although with different approaches and different level of capabilities.
  3. HR Will Rejoin the Digital Workplace Conversation
    Yes. There is a renewed interest and greater investments in employee-engagement and productivity solutions. This is being reflected in workplace technology procurements and there is a greater awareness to refresh/upgrade to workplace systems. Instead of an either-or approach (productivity vs. engagement), HR is looking for solutions that incorporate both elements in the technology.
  4. Enterprise Social – Hype around Unified Enterprise Messaging
    No. Unified Enterprise Messaging has remained a hype and we haven’t really seen any major push towards efforts to integrate multiple channels of communication such as email, IM, social, video hangouts and web meetings.
  5. Digital Workplace Will Say “Hello” to Analytics and Big Data
    Yes. We’ve seen numerous examples of analytics and big data being used for internally-facing scenarios such as recruitment and hiring, finding intelligence about competitors as well as suppliers, supply chain, inventory management, fulfilment, and so on.
  6. A SharePoint 2016 Yawn
    Yawn, Yes.  Even Redmond is a bit embarrassed about SharePoint on-premise.
  7. Marketing Virtual Data Warehouses Will Go Mainstream
    Yes and No.  We did see more marketing warehouses, although enterprises use different names for them. Most organizations operate several disparate marketing systems and they are now making efforts to integrate them, but the "virtual" system to provide one source of truth is still on the drawing boards at most enterprises.
  8. Drupal Split Will Characterize WCM Market Bifurcation
    Not really.  With delays in Drupal 8, there's been a postponement....but we still think a split is coming.
  9. Enterprise Mobile: Apps Will Get Unbundled
    Certainly Yes. Mobile-first and Mobile-only strategies are driving this behavior. Mobile devices have a specific context that is different from desktop environments. Enterprises  are increasingly avoiding monolithic apps that tried to replicate the functionality of their web application, and instead “unbundling” the functionality via  task-oriented, mobile-optimized apps that do certain things really well.
  10. Connected Devices Will Become a More Ubiquitous Channel
    Yes, this is a major trend. You not only have to consider mobile phones and tablets of varying sizes and capabilities but you also have to consider a host of other devices such as Apple TV, wearables, and other Internet-connected devices. This usually means investing in specialized tools as well as creating a more sophisticated publishing environments with flexible content, templates, and distribution vehicles.

Tallying the Score

Okay, so how did we do? I total it up to 7 out of 10 (Yes - 6 times, No - 2, Partial - 2).  That’s not as good as last year but not bad either...

If you're an RSG subscriber, 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.

2016 Digital Workplace and Marketing Technology Predictions #martech #trends Tue, 08 Dec 2015 09:16:00 +0000 It's that time of year for our team of Real Story Group analysts to reveal our 2016 predictions for the technology world.

Since we're only looking one year ahead, our predictions tend to be slimmer on long-term vision and more geared towards near-term trends that may have a practical bearing on your team.

You will recognize many of these predictions as trends already underway. However, we see 2016 as a tipping point in several cases, most notably around mobile and cloud-based workplace technology.

This is our tenth(!) year in a row doing this humbling exercise. If you'd like to see how we've done recently, you can view past predictions here: 2015, 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, and 2010.

Here's RSG's 2016 technology predictions:

1. Creative Operations Management Breaks Through

2. Cloud WCM: from PaaS to IaaS

3. Wearables Gain Traction

4. Mobile-First Finally Arrives

5. Content Marketing Becomes a Standard Feature

6. Social Monitoring Goes Vertical

7. Major DAM Players Flail

8. Moment of Truth for Box

9. SharePoint 2016 On-Premise Adoption Lag

10. Say Hello to the “Chief Digital Workplace Officer”

11. SaaS Becomes the Default Model for Social-Collaboration Tech

12. Office 365 User Shock

Real Story Group subscribers can download the full 2016 Digital Workplace & Marketing Technology Predictions Briefing that describes these trends (and how you should prepare and respond) in more detail.

Not yet a subscriber?  Join our public webinar describing the predictions, this Wednesday, 09 December, at 12:00 pm ET / 17:00 UTC.

The Meaning behind Atlassian's IPO Filing #DigitalWorkplace #socbiz Fri, 13 Nov 2015 14:48:00 +0000 Earlier this week, longstanding Aussie software vendor Atlassian filed for an IPO.  Should you care?


I think there's three things you the customer should know:

  1. Enterprise social-collaboration (a.k.a., Enterprise 2.0) is alive and well
  2. Selling to developers is a good business, but not a growth business
  3. Atlassian will change after its IPO

Social-Collaboration Continues to Grow

Although known mostly for its developer-oriented Jira tools, that market has natural limits, and so Atlassian is placing a bigger bet on its Confluence and HipChat offerings to provide growth going forward.  We're seeing more interest in Confluence as well, but at the same time, some of our enterprise subscribers get turned away by Atlassian's techie-first approach to the product's roadmap and ecosystem (you can read more in RSG's vendor evaluation research). 

For you the customer, the pending IPO brings more evidence that -- despite waning interest among industry analysts looking for The Next Big Thing -- social-collaboration continues a steady rise in the enterprise as organizations learn more each year about how to resource and govern it properly.  We're also seeing more experimentation with multi-vendor architectures as SharePoint continues its strategic retreat within Office 365. 

So as a customer, a lively social-collaboration marketplace awaits you, and Atlassian's IPO hints at a market getting still livelier.


But it's also a marketplace in transition, and Atlassian too will change -- as all companies do when they go public. You'll see more funds spent on sales and marketing along with intense demands for short-term revenue growth, and that will change Atlassian's culture. The company will inevitably lose some of the intimacy its longtime customers have enjoyed.

If in return, however, Atlassian focuses more on business buyers, that could become a plus for you.  We'll keep watching, listening, and interpreting...

New and Updated Evaluations - Google, Jive, eXo, Igloo, Interact, and More #DigitalWorkplace #cio Mon, 26 Oct 2015 15:44:00 +0000 We've just released the latest version of our Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Evaluations Report with updated reviews of Google, Igloo, Jive, Liferay Social Office, Telligent/Verint, and Traction. The new entrants to the report are eXo and Interact. Here's a sneak peek of some findings. 

Updated Reviews

Google: Google Apps for Work offers a plethora of collaboration tools and services, and Google signals that it is serious about the enterprise business segment. Most of the tools here are updated, but the star of this show remains email: still the #1 reason why businesses sign up for Google Apps for Work.

Igloo: Igloo Software continues to maintain its focus and positioning as an easy-to-use (and implement) social intranet software for customers that prefer breadth over a best-of-breed or depth strategy.

Jive: As we've noted before, Jive is at a crossroads and is placing its bets on the new mobile-first apps strategy. You now have narrowly focused mobile apps for key enterprise collaboration use cases. This is also an effort to land customers who do not want or need such a broad-ranging and complex platform, but it remains to be seen whether this will bear fruit for Jive. 

Liferay:  Social Office is a distro of sorts for the full-fledged Liferay Portal server, but it's specifically for collaboration-oriented scenarios. The word on the street is that the star is not shining too brightly for Social Office, perhaps warranting a wait-and-watch strategy for new customers. 

Telligent/Verint: It seems change is the only constant at Telligent. Briefly, it was Telligent + Zimbra = Zimbra. But now, Zimbra = Zimbra (of Synacor) & Telligent = Telligent (of Verint). Yes, it makes your head spin, but the big question is whether Telligent will pull off a Phoenix-like turnaround.

Traction: With a fairly loyal customer base, Traction continues to punch above its weight. The company is finding interesting use cases for the TeamPage software particularly in the ISO / quality management space for manufacturing customers. 

New Evaluations

eXo: Our Portal stream subscribers will be familiar with eXo, the longstanding vendor of open source portal software. The company shifted gears and pivoted to a social-collaboration play a couple of years ago, and is undertaking the journey to transform to a business-applications vendor from being an infrastructure software vendor. 

Interact: Interact is a UK vendor of intranet software and it manages to stand out in that crowded marketplace by dint of its broad offering. It has seen wide adoption in the home markets and now has big ambitions in the North American market. 

Next Steps

This updated report is available for immediate download to RSG subscribers. If you're not yet a subscriber, you can download a sample evaluation.

Meet with RSG at the Frankfurt Book Fair #martech #DAM Wed, 30 Sep 2015 08:51:00 +0000 I'm excited to be participating in the Frankfurt Book Fair (Oct 13 – 18), the world’s largest trade fair for the publishing industry. Held annually, the Book Fair has a 500-year old history and goes back to the time when Gutenberg invented the printing press.

In this year’s edition, I will be speaking on Selecting the Right Technology for Success.

Here is today’s harsh reality: software is eating the world. Even more so - if you are a publishing or a media group.

To survive, you need the right software tools to effectively showcase your offerings, target your audience, and market efficiently. But the technology landscape of Digital Asset Management, Web Content Management, Digital Marketing, and Big Data can be very complex and confusing.

Drawing upon RSG’s rich experience of working with customers across multiple industries (including publishing), I will demystify the marketplace, help benchmark your current state and based on your business objectives, help you identify the best-fit software tools for your specific requirements.

If you are an enterprise technology customer planning to attend the Book Fair, get the technology answers relevant to your company. Schedule a one-on-one session or send me an email.

Look forward to seeing you in Frankfurt.

P.S.: If you are not coming to Frankfurt, I invite you to attend this RSG webinar for the publishing industry customers on Oct 7, 2015 at 12:00 PM EDT / 1600 UTC.

Webinar - From Intranets to the Digital Workplace - September 30 #DigitalWorkplace #intranet Tue, 15 Sep 2015 16:08:00 +0000 You may have heard of the emerging concept of the "Digital Workplace," where employees go to get work done digitally. What is this concept, and what does it mean for traditional intranets, emerging social collaboration spaces, and line-of-business systems?

Savvy enterprise digital leaders are coming to recognize that their purview has broadened considerably. Based on the advisory sessions with KM and Intranet managers among RSG subscriber base, we know can present a daunting challenge.

But the notion of a Digital Workplace is also an opportunity for those with vision to reshape the employee experience by working from the screen backwards.

Join Tony Byrne as he shares recent RSG findings on best practices for transitioning from a traditional intranet to a modern digital workplace.

Register here

Webinar Details:

From Intranets to Digital Workplace

Date: Wednesday, September 30, 2015

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

We look forward to seeing you then.

Webinar - How to Select the Right Software in a Big Hurry (September 23) #DigitalWorkplace #standards Wed, 02 Sep 2015 17:11:00 +0000 In an ideal world, enterprise technology procurement teams would take their time to bring new solutions into the enterprise, patiently gathering requirements, prioritizing needs, and testing solutions. In the real world, selection teams don’t always have the luxury of time.

Join RSG's Jarrod Gingras as he presents a faster, more agile approach to technology selection.

Drawing on more than a decade of case studies, Jarrod will show you how to run a more efficient, iterative, and empirical selection process that will get you business value faster.

Register here

Webinar Details:

How to Select the Right Software in a Big Hurry

Date: Wednesday, September 23, 2015

Time: 2:00-2:30 PM EST (18:00-18:30 UTC/GMT 19:00 BST)

We look forward to seeing you then.

Webinar: Best Practices for Selecting the Right Digital Agency or Integration Partner (July 29) #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Tue, 14 Jul 2015 12:39:00 +0000 Enterprise customers of digital workplace and digital marketing technologies must frequently turn to outside suppliers -- integrators, agencies, or consulting firms -- for implementation help.  Indeed, for larger projects, the majority of the expense falls here.

But how do you select the right services firm? It turns out that many of the same agile methodologies that you should use to select software vendors apply here as well – but with a twist.

Start off on the right foot.  Join RSG's Director of Advisory Services Jarrod Gingras as he leads you through the process of selecting the right integrator for your project.

Register here

Webinar Details:

Best Practices for Selecting the Right Digital Agency or Integration Partner

Date: Wednesday, July 29, 2015

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

I look forward to seeing you there.

SharePoint Survivor Stories #sharepoint #DigitalWorkplace Wed, 01 Jul 2015 10:29:00 +0000 I have already circled back to you about the dimming of SharePoint's dominance as the de facto platform for workplace collaboration. Now I'm back with some survivor stories culled from the same survey. This is more animated and agitated because it is straight from the (customer) gut.

The text in the graphics are verbatim responses from customers regarding their SharePoint experiences.

May this Share-Pain-Point prove a wee bit therapeutic for you. Don't suffer in silence.

Industry analyst research is invaluable in social-collaboration software selection #DigitalWorkplace #cio Thu, 04 Jun 2015 13:13:00 +0000 Let me warn you upfront that this article may appear to be self-serving. Alas, my (main) motive here is not to promote the value of our research. I am writing this in response to a question we get asked all the time: do you have any data to prove the ROI of your research / advice.

So, I dug into the data from our most recent industry survey on enterprise social-collaboration technology.

In the survey, we asked customers to rate how satisfied they are with

  • the social-collaboration software products they are using (based on functionality and features) and
  • the vendors of these products (based on their responsiveness and support)

In a separate question, we also asked customers about the different inputs that went into their technology selection process.

Here is what we found: Customers who used industry analyst research in their technology selection process were more satisfied with their software products and vendors than those who did not.

Figure 1: Customers using industry analyst research to inform social-collaboration software selection are more satisfied with their products and vendors. Click the image to enlarge.

Could these results be due to chance? Some basic data science (ANOVA / tests of group means, in case you are interested) indeed confirms that the results are statistically significant -- i.e., not just due to random chance. There you go.

I suspect you intuitively understand the cause and effect here.  Expert knowledge about the products/vendors, in-depth understanding about their strengths and weaknesses, the experiences of other customers who used those products -- all get reflected in industry analyst research such as RSG's.

This can help you choose the best-fit software for your requirements and avoid expensive mistakes down the road. Such customers are naturally more satisfied than those who ended with products that don't work as advertised or simply prove to be a mis-match. Time and again, we hear this from our blue-chip customers anecdotally.

Now, there's also quantitative evidence about the impact of analyst research more generally.  I'm certainly happy to be part of your success.

When IT and Business Think Differently About Social-Collaboration #DigitalWorkplace #EntArch Thu, 28 May 2015 05:26:00 +0000 Many employee- and customer-facing digital projects can prove very difficult to pull off, but to paraphrase Tolstoy, each is hard in its own way. Partly it relates to how different "silos" in the organization perceive the key challenges.  The two main protagonists in this drama, Business and IT, are very often not on the same page.

But is there is a way for enterprise leaders to pin-point how and where this Business-IT gap shows up?

Consider the Case of Social-Collaboration

Consider social-collaboration technology, where an analysis of the challenges faced by large organizations provides some useful insights about the Business-IT chasm.

RSG's 2014 survey of Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software (get summary here) found that customer satisfaction with social-collaboration technology remains middling and enterprises have not yet achieved a high degree of maturity in leveraging this technology.


Figure 1: Main challenges faced in Social-Collaboration projects, as seen by Business and IT (Click image for full-size version of the chart).

As you can see from the above chart, Business and IT perceive that their social-collaboration initiatives face different challenges. Along with executive buy-in, business stakeholders consider insufficient staffing, training, and lack of best practices to be their main challenges. Apart from executive buy-in, IT stakeholders tend to perceive a very different set of challenges: lack of user adoption, insufficient governance, and funding shortages.

Among the list of main challenges, only "executive buy-in" appears on both sides of the aisle. 

Figure 2: Executive Buy-in is the only common challenge cited by Business and IT.

Some of This Is Normal

Some tension here is to be expected and maybe even welcomed -- a bit.  IT and Business stakeholders have different jobs so you might expect they bring distinct sets of concerns to digital projects.

However, different stakeholders prioritizing separate challenges may indicate teams pursuing different goals and divergent paths to maturity. They may be trying to solve localized or departmental problems, rather than pursuing enterprise-wide objectives.

Do you experiences similar alignment challenges? Talk to us - we can help untangle complex enterprise social-collaboration initiatives.


[Webinar] Digital Workplace at Scale: A Checklist for Large, Global Organizations #DigitalWorkplace #EntArch Thu, 21 May 2015 15:07:00 +0000[Webinar]-Digital-Workplace-at-Scale:-A-Checklist-for-Large-Global-Organizations? If you manage the intranet or digital workplace for a large enterprise, you know that scalability matters — a lot.

Yet "scale" is a tricky concept in technology. In the world of packaged applications — the kind that we evaluate — people talk about scale when referencing very different things, such as feature breadth and scenario diversity (scope), functional depth and richness (complexity), and transaction volumes and traffic intensity (usage).

Since all of these meanings are relevant, notions of scale can become vague, generic, and take on a marketing-speak quality.

You don't want that.

Join RSG Founder Tony Byrne for a scalability checklist for large, global organizations. Designed to align both business and IT leaders, this checklist will help you address the unique problems of super-sized enterprises that vendors often neglect.

Register here

Webinar Details:

Registration: Digital Workplace at Scale: A Checklist for Large, Global Organizations 

Date: Wednesday, June 3, 2015

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

I look forward to seeing you there.

What does the future hold for Jive Software and its customers? #e20 #sharepoint Tue, 19 May 2015 11:57:00 +0000 As our Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software research subscribers know, Jive Software is a major player in the enterprise collaboration software space. During the “Enterprise 2.0” mania of the last decade, Jive was structured and valued as a high-growth play — both before and after its splashy IPO.

However, the company is now experiencing decelerated revenue and customer growth. This along with the continued lack of profits is leading to a significant reduction in its market capitalization.

Figure 1:  From a peak of $1.7 billion in April 2012, Jive's market cap has declined to about $400 million at the beginning of May 2015. Source: YChart

Without concurrent cost reductions, this performance plateau calls into question Jive’s path-to-profitability and therefore its future viability as an independent company.

  • What does this mean for Jive and the enterprise collaboration software market as a whole?
  • What are the implications for current and future customers of Jive (most of whom, btw, seem quite happy with the platform)?

We just released a detailed 12-page paper that analyzes the strategic choices confronting Jive and makes specific recommendations for current and prospective customers.

As a bonus you also get our analysis of the desirability of different suitors for Jive Software in any M&A overtures - but from the perspective of enterprise customers, using our hand-crafted Suitorbility analysis.

Figure 2:  RSG Analysis of motivation to acquire Jive and impact on customer for different suitors, along with some wild cards. (Click to enlarge.)

This briefing is available to our Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software research subscribers for immediate download. If you are not a subscriber, you can purchase it for $895.


New Reference Models for Your Digital Workplace #DigitalWorkplace #KMers Wed, 06 May 2015 12:51:00 +0000 The term "Digital Workplace" has become quite popular, and although some old hands view the term with cynicism, at RSG we are quite bullish on the concept.

Here's our definition: your digital workplace is the collection of digital systems that your colleagues use to get work done. And the foundational problem with employee digital experience today is that these systems reflect primarily how the enterprise wants that work to get done.

Many of our enterprise subscribers recognize that they need to reverse this equation and focus on employee experience "on the glass."

However, this quest gets hampered by a lack of practical frameworks that assess current state, analyze the environment from multiple vantage points, and help charter a custom roadmap.

So today we're sharing a couple of reference models with our subscribers.

1) A more traditional, architectural reference model that describes a layered inventory of digital workplace systems, to form a baseline for further analysis of functional, integration, and security needs

2) A complementary approach that examines the efficacy and usability of enterprise systems from the perspective of the employee -- tying systems analysis more closely to business value via the pursuit of employee effectiveness, engagement, and satisfaction

Subscribers can download the briefing,"Reference Models to Chart the Future of Your Digital Workplace," straight away.

If your firm is not a subscriber (and maybe it is, already), peruse this information to learn more about RSG research.


[Webinar] Making Sense of the Collaboration Tool Landscape #DigitalWorkplace #intranet Fri, 24 Apr 2015 04:13:00 +0000[Webinar]-Making-Sense-of-the-Collaboration-Tool-Landscape? The landscape for enterprise collaboration technology is shifting rapidly. On the one hand, a variety of new, simpler solutions have hit the market for simple networking and project management. On the other hand, we have reached the era of "peak SharePoint," forcing customers of that longstanding platform to look beyond their SharePoint estates for innovation.

Meanwhile, most organizations still struggle to align people-oriented social networking capabilities with document- and process-oriented collaboration services. Fortunately, though, as a customer you have many choices depending on the breadth of your appetite and depth of your internal capabilities.

Join Real Story Group founder Tony Byrne in partnership with CMSWire for a tour of Collaboration technology choices, circa 2015. Based on RSG's qualitative vendor evaluations and customer survey research, Tony will lead you through a process of understanding your technology choice and making good decisions to improve collaboration this year.

Register here.

Webinar Details

Registration: Webinar: Making Sense of the Collaboration Tool Landscape

Date: Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Time: 1:00-1:30 PM EST (17:00-17:30 UTC/GMT)

I look forward to seeing you there

You might already subscribe to our research and not know it... #EntArch Tue, 31 Mar 2015 15:22:00 +0000 I frequently run into people at conferences or in social media who don't realize that their employer subscribes to our research. Of course we work to get them quickly logged in.

Well, it's not exactly like a bank error in their favor...but it's a useful professional boost they didn't know they could use.

Could that be you, too? Maybe. I can't share our subscriber list here, but if you work for a large enterprise in particular, there's a chance you may already be eligible for a seat. (You can see some examples of current and past subscribers here.)

To be sure, you can check with whoever handles IT research for your organization. Or if you want a really quick answer, just ping our customer care team and they can let you know.

It's not free money from the bank, but our research can definitely save you time and trouble...and perhaps license fees on your next technology purchase.


New and Updated Evaluations - Jive, SharePoint, Liferay, Drupal, and Zimbra #DigitalWorkplace #sharepoint Fri, 27 Mar 2015 11:32:00 +0000 We've just released the latest version of our Enterprise Collaboration and Social Networking vendor evaluation report, with updates to Microsoft, Drupal, Jive, and Zimbra, along with a new entrant, Liferay Social Office.  Here's a sneak peek at some findings.


All these years we've advised that you adopt from among "complement, supplement or extend" strategies for your SharePoint platform. Now, we add a fourth: "postpone."

That's because of the convoluted and confused steps emanating from Redmond on multiple fronts -- migration to Office 365, integration with Yammer, and hybrid cloud deployments. Even though the SharePoint ecosystem is gearing up for SharePoint 2016, the majority of customers have been taking a rather sensible wait-and-watch attitude towards SP 2013. Consult our research for more details.


While Acquia remains a good shepherd of the Commons distribution, we note that momentum is building around the OpenAtrium distro, an emerging solution for social-intranet scenarios. 


Some things in life just don't change. Just like you can always count on Jive to rename their products with each release. But this time Jive is changing more than just nomenclature; the vendor has begun a journey of unbundling the platform (which is at risk of becoming unwieldy because of all the feature additions) into narrowly focused but more usable apps.


Zimbra (neé Telligent) is trying hard to catch-up with larger rivals in the space who have stolen a march despite Telligent's early momentum. The real question though is whether Zimbra's social platform can expand beyond its traditional use cases around communities and whether the company has the wherewithal to pull it off.

Liferay Social Office

Last but not least, we also added a new vendor to our evaluations line-up. Think of Social Office as a Liferay Portal "distro" of sorts where you get an enterprise portal plus social-collaboration platform in one package. There is a yin and yang thing going on here, with both pros and cons. 

This latest report is available for immediate download to RSG subscribers.

If you're not a subscriber, you can download a sample evaluation here.

Immersive Environments Still Not Ready for Enterprise #DigitalWorkplace #immersive Thu, 26 Mar 2015 17:28:00 +0000 In 2011, Real Story Group published an advisory, “Is Immersive Collaboration Software Ready for Prime Time?,” which concluded that the value of virtual worlds and other immersive environments remains questionable and risky for enterprise customers.

As an enormous enthusiast and independent researcher of these platforms, I consider this analysis still applicable today. Continuing interface complexity, coupled with difficulties in scaling due to fundamental limitations in bandwidth, means that best-case uses of immersive environments remain rooted in non-enterprise sectors.

For example:

  • Progressive education
  • Design and prototyping in a collaborative but limited context (for example, design of a theatrical stage set)
  • Some site- and scenario-specific training (such as machine control rooms or cultural training for personnel operating in foreign environments)
  • Arts and entertainment

Utilizing virtual worlds today continues to require a user base that is amenable to exploration and novelty and where “creative play” is valued above efficient productivity. End-users must still invest substantial time and effort to master the steep learning curves needed to function fluidly in a virtual environment; it takes significant skill-sets to traverse and utilize these platforms.

More common technologies such as video conferencing and desktop sharing of industry-standard applications--augmented by communication channels (for example, CAD on shared desktops using Skype)--remain more accessible, effective, and efficient solutions for enterprise.

However, technical and design innovation in the immersive space continues, and increasing VC interest is promising. Paul Allen-led Vulcan Capital recently invested in High Fidelity, a next iteration of complex virtual world by the creators of Second Life. High Fidelity has built into the user interface support for gesture and facial mapping onto avatars via camera and sensor inputs, as well as viewing via Oculus Rift. Once mature, these technologies could greatly reduce the complexity of use and navigation. The acquisition of Oculus Rift by Facebook is another monetary vote of confidence that may augur well for next-generation immersive platforms.

But, nearly three years after our initial assessment, there has yet to be a breakthrough application that radically changes the analysis regarding enterprise use.

Additionally, I predict that the vendor-provided model of virtual platforms will not be the final path to enterprise and mass adoption. Rather, the next iteration of the web—one that will be 3D and immersive in its entirety—rests in the ability of HTML5 and frameworks such as WebGL to deliver standardized 3D in the browser without the need for additional plug-ins, media players, and disparate user-controls.  Critically, advances in camera and sensor technologies integrated into laptop and mobile devices, are necessary to alleviate the enormous, current burden on the user, who is asked to manually pilot avatars in a complex environment while not losing sight of where he is on the spreadsheet.

While some evangelists claim that virtual worlds make online engagement “more human and life-like,” they succeed in this only to the extent that everyone is rendered more vulnerable to chagrin as unintended events and simple user error become publicly observable. In good-natured and flat organizations where everyone is able to be equally fallible, this may be acceptable. In those where some modicum of professional authority and hierarchy is desired, virtual worlds continue to risk rendering everyone equal along a spectrum of the absurd.