Real Story Group Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software blog posts Copyright (c) 2014, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 08/11/2014 00:00:00 60 How to be a smart consumer of analyst research Mon, 11 Aug 2014 16:39:00 +0000 Well, it's not exactly "a specter haunting the analyst world," but the pay-to-play issue in our industry has risen to the fore once more because of a vendor dragging Gartner Group to court over their business practices.

What’s the pay-to-play problem?

Broadly speaking, pay-to-play refers to a (usually unspoken) quid pro quo between industry analysts and the vendors they track. This can take the form of vendors purchasing consulting or other services from the analyst firm that evaluates them. The issue then becomes whether the research produced is (or ever could be) truly objective and neutral.

Before I come to that, note that analyst firms fall on a spectrum when it comes to the pay-to-play model.

  • On the one end are the “purely play” analyst firms; vendors engage these firms to produce reports for them and as long as the vendor/analyst firm are upfront and disclose who paid for the report, it’s all par for the course
  • On the other end of the spectrum, are the no-play firms that don't advise vendors; these are few and far between (RSG is one such firm -- please let me know of others you are aware of); here also, there is no doubt as to who the analyst firm is serving: the enterprise tech customer
  • Things become a bit trickier in the broad middle, where a major analyst firm seeks business both from the buy-side (technology buyers) and the sell-side (technology vendors). 

In the third scenario, the interests of these two masters clearly tug in opposite directions.

Another hazard also arises within the sell-side camp: when one vendor is a customer of the analyst firm, while the other is not, will the analyst firms offer “equal opportunity” coverage to all vendors, irrespective of whether they cut them a check or not? That's the core issue of the current dispute.

Of course, the credibility of an analyst firm is its biggest calling card and many leading analyst firms try to guard against the explicit conflicts of interest – but not always with success. 

 What’s your mitigation strategy? 

As a technology-buyer, you can guard against potential biases (explicit or implicit) that may have crept into analyst research.

  1. Use the standard 2-by-2 industry matrices (whichever name they may go by, in the end they are all 2 x 2 grids) as only a starting point for research, and don’t rely on them  for final selection or decision validation
  2. By extension, do not be unduly swayed by the positions of vendors in these 2 x 2 charts; the differences between the vendors could be marginal, and in any case, the rankings are generic and not in situational context
  3. You should seek a variety of sources of advice; this may bump up your workload a bit, but smart customers diversify and synthesize external input

When it comes to making decisions about technology suppliers, you always want to perform due diligence commensurate to the size of your investment. Take the same approach with your analyst firm as well.

Facebook for your enterprise, again? #e20 #socialmedia Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:14:00 +0000 A small meme has been bouncing around the interwebs after this piece in TechCrunch last month speculated that Facebook might go after the enterprise social networking market.

It's interesting to think about. But really, just how plausible is Facebook as an enterprise social network?

We've Been Here Before

Back in 2008 when we released the first edition of our Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software Report, we actually evaluated Facebook as one of the potential "vendors" to consider. At the time, some enterprises were reviewing Facebook (and LinkedIn) as potential venues for intra-enterprise networking and collaboration.

Recall that Facebook was then considered a young person's network, and some business leaders hoped that Facebook in the enterprise could help them better engage millennials.

The most famous example was a mainframe applications vendor named Serena Software, who launched a small PR campaign about jettisoning its stodgy intranet in favor of using Facebook for internal collaboration. At the time, it caused a stir on the conference circuit, where I recall a few pundits lauding the move as disruptive.

Less well publicized was the result: it fizzled. Serena's German employees rebelled on day one, citing quite reasonably that mandating a public social presence for use in a professional setting constituted a clear violation of privacy norms.

Serena also immediately encountered a major functional problem. Facebook does not have a notion of files. You could share images (and now video), but you can't create folders and other places to arbitrarily share files. In an enterprise setting, you don't want to separate social networking and collaboration. And file-sharing is the mother of all collaboration. The company ultimately found a different platform for file-sharing.

What About Today?

Fast forward to 2014. Grandma has more friends on Facebook than you do, so this conversation is returning with a different slant. If Facebook has "grown up," does that mean it's now finally ready for intra-enterprise networking?

The answer is still no.

Facebook is really just an activity stream -- albeit one with some fancy, if not always trustworthy, filtering algorithms. I think we've learned that activity streams alone doth not a business application make. And the action today is all about social and collaborative applications.

In terms of core functionality, Facebook still comes up short. No file sharing. No separation of personal and professional personas (something Google finally did a few years back). No real content search. And so on.

Facebook is clearly a useful channel (within limits) for enterprises to engage the outside world. In our Marketing Automation & Social Technology Report we evaluate tools that can help you manage your institutional presence across different social networks.

Facebook for internal social-collaboration? Nope. Fortunately you have at least two dozen other plausible options. If we can help you in your decision-making, let us know.

What's the mobile strategy for your enterprise social network? #DigitalWorkplace #mobile Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:21:00 +0000 Circa 2014, as we catalog in our enterprise collaboration and social software vendor evaluation research , the use cases for social-collaboration software inside the enterprise are more or less well understood.

The short story is that some new use cases (e.g., Social Q&A) are possible and some older use cases (e.g., Expertise Location) can be turbo-charged. However, what’s still not as well understood -- and hence not leveraged effectively -- is the intersection of mobile devices and enterprise social networks.

Mobile Today

To be sure, almost all the social-collaboration vendors we evaluate offer some sort of mobile capabilities (not to do so circa 2014 makes you an ostrich) – be it a mobile-friendly version of the web application, native apps for popular mobile platforms, or a cross-platform hybrid app.

But in almost all cases, the underlying assumption is that the mobile version plays the supporting role for the web application. In many contexts, that’s a reasonable assumption to make, since many enterprises only seek to mobile-enable a subset of the overall functionality.

Even though this offers an improvement over the status quo, there is a perhaps a better way to think about the mobile strategy for your enterprise social network.

Mobile First?

In the scenario described above, you are catering to your employees who are primarily desk-bound, mobile-enabling them for those occasions when they are away from their desks.

But what about those employees whose jobs do not require them to be tethered to a desk – think field force agents, airline crews, retail industry workers – they all work for large organizations but they may only access their laptops very infrequently. Since their face-to-face interactions with their colleagues elsewhere can be rather limited, it is all the more imperative that you leverage a mobile social network to increase organizational cohesiveness and reinforce the culture. In such cases, you want to consider a mobile-first social network. You’ll likely emphasize a different set of use cases, and will want to re-think "engagement" in this context.

Being strategic about mobile-enabling your workforce involves categorizing your employees based on their primary interaction device – desktop/laptop or tablet/phone. You can then establish the appropriate objectives and relevant use-cases for each of these segments separately. Such an exercise may reveal that the key objective for the desk segment is productivity while for the mobile segment it is both productivity and engagement.

So, you may prioritize “file sharing” and syncing-across devices for the desk-segment while for the mobile-segment you may implement group messaging services and video-streaming to get them clued-in to the remote mothership.

To summarize: I am not (yet) advocating a drastic mobile-first for the entire enterprise, but do consider seizing the opportunities for a mobile-first social network.

We can help you think through your strategy and help you select the best-fit social and mobile software tools to realize the strategy.

PS: If you have not already done so, please spare a few minutes and participate in our survey on social-collaboration software.

Call for Participation - RSG Survey on Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software #DigitalWorkplace #e20 Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:41:00 +0000 At RSG, we have been tracking the enterprise collaboration and social software market for close to 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 fifteen 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.

Needless to say 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. 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. 

The Biggest Enterprise Roadmap Regret #EntArch #pmot Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:44:00 +0000 Lately, we've been advising many of our subscribers on their longer-term roadmaps for digital workplace and marketing technology.

This is a good sign. It means that enterprises are transitioning from reacting to emerging technologies to pro-actively planning a strategy to exploit digital opportunities.

We always try to share lessons of those who have gone before you, and in that spirit, I'd like to offer the most common "what-would-I-have-done-differently" advice we encounter. What do enterprise technology and business leaders say three years into implementing a strategic roadmap?

First, a Runner Up

One of the most common regrets is not a new one, but an increasingly important requirement in an era where customers and employees alike demand a more humane digital experience.

    "I wish we had more closely followed user-centered design principles"

Here I mean design in the broadest sense, from experience design at the screen (where you should always start) back to data and system design.

If your roadmap centers on enterprise-centered design and then tries to derive effective experiences for your employees and customers, you're inviting Business-IT conflict amid unmet expectations.

User-centered design is a discipline in the sense of a collection of coherent methodologies, but UCD is also a discipline in the sense that its greatest value comes from consistent application across all the projects in your roadmap.

The Number One Enterprise Regret

But there's an even deeper and more prevalent regret:

    "I wish we had sorted out our Identity & Access Management foundation sooner."

Every technology (and their biggest analyst and vendor boosters) wants to be foundational in your enterprise stack. Well, IAM truly is foundational. If you don't put the right tools, processes, data, and people in place to create a definitive repository of identities, roles, groups, and attendant entitlements, your ability to execute strategically can become sorely crippled.

I frequently hear feedback like, "We had great plans to bust internal silos, but then hit a roadblock when we couldn't turn to a consistent IAM store." Fragmented identity and access services almost always lead to fragmented user experiences.

Note that there's much more to this than "security." Security is important, but the long-term value of a comprehensive IAM foundation is really less about mitigating risk and more about exploiting opportunities -- opportunities to offer single sign-on, profile-based user experiences, better integrated data and services, and smoother collaboration and networking.

When to Fund?

IT leaders often complain that business stakeholders don't like to fund these sorts of infrastructure programs, which usually aren't tied directly to a specific project. That's a valid complaint. The time to deal with IAM is when you are creating a long-term roadmap that anticipates how different pieces of your digital ecosystem need to work together.

If your organization is a Real Story Group subscriber and you'd like us to sense-check your strategic plans, log in to schedule an advisory session with one of our experts.

How to Select the Right Collaboration and Social Technology - Webinar #socbiz #e20 Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:06:00 +0000 Please join me for a complimentary webinar next Wednesday:

"The Right Way to Select Collaboration and Social Software"

This fast-paced session will start with a tour of the current collaboration and social technology landscape, including how vendors are (and aren't) addressing key emerging trends. Then we'll turn to a proven methodology for selecting the right solution for your enterprise.

Date: Wednesday July 16 2014
Time:12:00-12:30 PM EDT (17:00-18:00 BST) (16:00-17:00 UTC/GMT)

Register here.

Updated enterprise social-collaboration evaluations - Jive and VMWare Socialcast #DigitalWorkplace #e20 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 19:05:00 +0000 The most recent release of our Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software Report contains updated evaluations of Jive Software and VMWare Socialcast. You'll have to consult the respective chapters for the detailed evaluations, but here are some general reflections. 

No doubt, Jive represents a success story in the enterprise social software space: transitioning from its early days as a forum software vendor to a purveyor today of a rather comprehensive social-collaboration package, and the largest pure-play vendor in this segment.

Impressive this may be, but some dark clouds hover over Jive. The euphoria of a successful IPO is behind it and the company is straining a bit under the weight of accumulated losses. There is insider talk of Jive trying to find a suitor in vain. That's just speculation; as a potential customer, you should be more concerned with Jive's appetite to sustain R&D investments and product updates as Wall Street grows restless with red ink.

To be fair, though, I'll note that product updates have not suffered so far. If anything Jive customers complain about keeping up with the rapid pace of change in the components that make up the platform. In the longer term, Jive's ability to outrun deep-pocketed rivals like IBM, Microsoft, and TIBCO will be severely tested.

For Socialcast the suspicions we aired previously about possible stagnation are now playing out. As watchers of this space recall, about three years ago VMWare acquired Socialcast, one of the pioneers in bringing social networking and activity streams into the enterprise. VMWare too is a pioneer, albeit in IT-infrastructure related virtualization technology. Socialcast is a part of their End User Computing (EUC) business, and the potential synergies were not always very clear.  Today, VMWare is focusing EUC primarily on mobile services, as evidenced by its acquisition of Mobile Device Management vendor Airwatch earlier this year.

Expect to see more vendor re-focusing in the enterprise social software segment as the space matures. At RSG, we'll keep an eye on your behalf.

The updated report is available for immediate download for our subscribers. Others can obtain a complimentary sample, which incidentally is our review of Jive...

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


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

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

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


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

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

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

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

London Calling Part 1: Technology Week #mobile #socbiz Mon, 02 Jun 2014 15:10:00 +0000 We've long partnered with the Internet World UK Conference and the Interop events in the US and India, where we've led sessions and taught seminars. This year in London, Internet World and Interop are coming together as part of the upcoming London Technology Week, and once again we're excited to be a part of this multi-faceted educational event.

I'll be presenting a few sessions as a part of both Internet World and Interop, highlighting some of the latest findings in our digital workplace, mobile, and social / collaboration research. I'll also be leading a more general session on how to evaluate emerging technologies for the enterprise.

If you're on the "right" side of the Atlantic, I hope you're planning to be in London for this exciting week of technology learning. Please come along to my sessions, and ask challenging questions!

Social-Enabling your enterprise circa 2014 #socbiz #sharepoint Fri, 16 May 2014 12:13:00 +0000 We've been following the social-as-a-layer trend for several years now, mostly waiting for vendors to catch up with customer aspirations here.

The core concept is simple: rather than social networking functionality represented as a "place to go," enterprises want to inject social capabilities into workaday business processes, creating more efficiencies, improving usability, and generally creating a more humane digital workplace.

Not quite there yet

Social-as-a-layer has proven difficult in practice, for a number of reasons we detail in our Enterprise Collaboration & Social research stream.

Many vendors have -- quite prudently, I think -- focused on building social components on top of SharePoint, which famously lacks quality social capabilities itself. But this still raises the question of how to social-enable business processes that fall outside SharePoint.

Interestingly, even the more agnostic social-layer solutions like Tibco's Tibbr offering still tend to get implemented more as places than layers, and vendors have taken to emphasizing their facebook-like walls and employee profiles more than their sometimes complicated integrations.

To me, this suggests a couple of things:

  1. The near-term key to unlocking value still lies in specific applications (like Social Q&A), and most customers are still working on this challenge
  2. Comprehensive social-enablement of legacy systems often requires customers to invest in heavy integration work that's essential to providing context to social capabilities, and many of you are not quite ready to do that

A layer and a destination?

So this puts social-layer vendors betwixt two worlds: they need to find simpler ways to provide meaningful social capabilities on top of multiple underlying systems, as well as develop specific applications themselves.

Nowhere is this dilemma so vividly demonstrated as with SharePoint and Yammer -- still two very separate systems almost two years after Microsoft closed the acquisition.

Fortunately, the market seems to be adapting. In particular, vendors who traditionally focused on amping up SharePoint are now slowly spreading their coverage areas to other systems. (Ironically not so much with Yammer, though.)

As a customer, this bodes well for you in the long run. In the near term, you'll want to meter your investments here very carefully, and measure incremental effort directly against additional business value.

In our own vendor evaluation research, we recently decided to group SharePoint add-ons and more general-purpose social layers into a single new category: "Social Enterprise Layers and SharePoint Supplements." I suspect that in the future you'll see more of a convergence here.

If you're wondering if our research and advisory services can help smooth your journey, just drop us a line.

Updated Evaluations - SharePoint, Yammer, Sitrion,, and Neudesic #DigitalWorkplace #sharepoint Tue, 13 May 2014 10:40:00 +0000 We've just released version 5.0 of our Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Report. This latest release offers some practical answers to a nearly ubiquitous question:

"How do I add useful social capabilities to SharePoint?"

Specifically, we've updated the evaluations of SharePoint, Yammer, and Sitrion (formerly NewsGator), and added and Neudesic Pulse to the line-up. Here's a sneak peek, calling out a single aspect of each of these vendors.

Where SharePoint Comes up Short

A variation of Murphy's Law goes like this - "Inside every large problem is many other small problems trying to get out." That about sums up the whole SharePoint 2013 / Office 365 situation right now. Enterprises need to grapple with vexing issues like on-premise vs cloud, and how to deliver effective social networking applications. The SharePoint review chapter summarizes what you can expect to see in the SharePoint platform.

Of course, you need to read this together with the chapter on Yammer. Redmond has positioned Yammer as the enterprise social networking solution within the Office 365 family, to receive priority for future enhancements and integrations. We address what this means for your on-premise SharePoint estate.

SharePoint Add-ons

Sitrion, formerly known as NewsGator, continues to offer polished applications for SharePoint, and is also trying to expand its portfolio to include social applications around SAP. is an add-on to SharePoint / Office 365. While it only addresses a subset of the functionality of the larger SharePoint platform, it takes a novel approach to usability for your current SharePoint applications. 

Neudesic Pulse is both standalone social networking software as well as a tool that can add social capabilities to SharePoint and other collaboration applications. One of the pre-packaged applications here is LinkedIn-style über profiles for use inside the enterprise. 

The full report is available for immediate download to RSG subscribers. Others can get a complimentary sample chapter

Lessons learned from Cisco pulling the plug on WebEx Social #DigitalWorkplace #socbiz Wed, 07 May 2014 12:32:00 +0000 Cisco has announced that it is halting sales of its enterprise social networking software WebEx Social and will instead partner with Jive Software. WebEx Social -- originally launched in 2010 as "Cisco Quad" -- was intended as a connective social layer for several of the vendor’s real-time communication products like video conferencing, web conferencing and IP-telephony.

A bit of history

In theory, “social meets unified communications” is a useful scenario, but Quad failed to take off, partly because Cisco was late to the game but mostly on account of Quad having an “unfinished” feel to it. Quad was less a "layer" and more an attempt to convert a fork of the open source Liferay Portal platform into a social networking platform.

A couple of years later, Cisco tried to give Quad another push, rebranding it as WebEx Social and selling it as part of a broader collaboration offering alongside WebEx Meetings and Instant Messaging software Jabber. However, WebEx Social also never found many takers, and Cisco’s announcement last week represents the final acknowledgement of the lack of any meaningful traction.

In our review of the product in the Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Report, we foresaw this eventuality: “there are few scenarios that would be appropriate for WebEx Social, given that it remains a work-in-progress, it lags the market, and lacks differentiators.” However, the point of this blog is not “I told you so.”  Vendors have hits and misses and I admire Cisco for being a pioneer in their core areas of computer networking.

Lessons for you

The lesson here for enterprise customers is two-fold.

Firstly, does the product that you are buying constitute a meaty business area for a vendor or is it a side show? If the latter, then even if the current version of the product is good enough, will it receive enough attention and updates, or will it just wither on the vine?

Next, is there an alignment between the product and the company’s DNA? Why do you think that Google can't shake off the perception that it’s not interested in enterprise business despite Google Apps being a multi-billion dollar business? Now, Cisco has excellent credibility as a purveyor of networking gear, but is business software in general, and social networking services in particular, really up their alley? More generally, does a hardware company get software products?

Moving beyond Cisco for a moment, it's worth asking similar questions of other types of suppliers.  For example, does your traditional software vendor understand what it takes to deliver a multi-tenant cloud service?  How much can you depend on product offerings from companies whose main line of business is not selling software products but offering systems integration or professional services?

Yes, these questions speak to vendor intangibles and so you can't always readily quantify them. But do not ignore these "softer" aspects in your software selection. We can certainly complement your internal analysis here. 

What is the future of Intranets? #DigitalWorkplace #intranet Wed, 30 Apr 2014 08:31:00 +0000 Nobody really knows for sure, but we're making some educated hypotheses around new digital workplace models.

In a wide-ranging interview. the good folks at the Intranätverk 2014 conference (Gothenburg, Sweden this May) asked about various topics, including the future of intranets. My reply...

I think that the term intranet is slowly going to go away. Not that the people or the skills are going to disappear, but I think that successful intranet teams will begin to reinvent themselves as fundamentally the employee advocates in the new digital workplace. And that's going to be less about building the intranet as a place and more about making sure that the digital workplace is doing what it's supposed to be doing. This could prove a difficult transition, but an essential one.

We've been advising some of our larger subscribers on what this new digital workplace might look like, and how to get there. If you'd like more info, just ping us.

Also, if you are nordically inclined, hope to see you in Sweden next month!

2014 Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Logo Landscape #DigitalWorkplace #EntArch Wed, 09 Apr 2014 13:27:00 +0000 Next up in our Logo Landscape Series is the 2014 Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software Logo Landscape. It shows how the 25 Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software options we evaluate in the Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software Report fall into 5 groupings:

- Platform Vendors

- Major Suites

- Smaller Suites

- Specialist Players

- Social Enterprise Layers

You can download a copy here.

Of course, these categories are merely a starting point for buyers looking to build a shortlist. This is a two-dimensional grouping that lumps key competitors together, but it's not unusual for enterprises to cross categories when building selection short-lists or filling out an overall architecture of participation.  As always, you will want to weigh other considerations like region, license and delivery model, application usability, technology platform, and architectural fit.

In fact, I recommend considering a variety of criteria -- like we specify in our Custom Short-List Builder -- to get you to to a good starting point to conduct further diligence and testing before you ultimately make a buying decision.

If we can help you here, please let us know.

March Madness: Digital Workplace and Marketing Technology Edition #DigitalWorkplace #digitalmarketing Thu, 20 Mar 2014 12:08:00 +0000 For most enterprises, selecting technology can be like picking a winner of the NCAA Basketball Tournament:

  • Lots of guessing
  • Favoritism to the teams/vendors you know
  • Limited research
  • A mix of predictability and surprises
  • Untold amounts of money changing hands
  • Madness

At the Real Story Group, we have helped thousands of enterprises across the world make this process a lot less maddening. Our vendor evaluation reports help you get to an appropriate short-list – an Elite Eight or Final Four, if you will. We specialize in winnowing down your choices from an entire marketplace to the vendors and products that could best fit for your needs. 

Thus, we are once again providing you with a Digital Marketing Technology Bracket and a Digital Workplace Technology Bracket to help you get started in your quest to "cut down the nets" with a successful technology solution.


You can download your own full-size Digital Workplace Technology Bracket here.


You can download your own full-size Digital Marketing Technology Bracket here.

Some disclaimers: There's no such thing as a "best" software vendor. Thus, these depictions of the Digital Workplace and Digital Marketing technology landscapes are not indicative of any seedings; rather it is a simple grouping of some of the more significant content technology vendors that we cover. The vendors chosen were done so randomly since we actually cover more than 250 products from 198 vendors (you can see the full list here.) 

Good luck! And if you need help finding the right Digital Marketing or Digital Workplace technology for your enterprise, contact us and we'll help you pick a winner.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Getting smart about email in the digital workplace #DigitalWorkplace #e20 Tue, 18 Feb 2014 12:23:00 +0000 I don't know anyone who does not complain of information overload. In an enterprise setting a big part of this problem is email overload. Despite the increased adoption of newer collaboration tools the volume of email has not come down. In fact, perverse though it may seem, we now have more emails to process, as these newer tools send out ever more notifications via email.

Every day in almost every organization, countless hours which could have been otherwise better utilized are lost because employees are wading through email that frankly they do not need to read. But in terms of lost productivity the time spent on email is only the tip of the iceberg. Academic research shows that productivity losses can rise up to 20% due to distractions such as email. Employees typically only get a few minutes of distraction free time (11 minutes) but once disturbed, they take much longer (23 minutes) to return fully to the original task. Even without quantifying the exact loss and leakage happening because of ineffective email practices, intuitively, knowledge workers and their managers realize that out-of-control email needs to be tamed.

Unfortunately, there is no single silver bullet. Any solution involves a bit of personal discipline, changes in organizational norms and culture, and lastly right use of technology and tools.

Today's spam filters cancel out only spurious external e-mails, but they are not of much help in unnecessary internal mails, remaining helpless against "reply all" and "CC" habits. To handle this, managers need to emphasize that emails should be only on a need-to-know basis and discourage unnecessarily long list of recipients. In fact, you can tell a lot about a company's culture by looking at the CC lists of an email.

If continuous inflow of email messages through the day is the culprit for employee distraction and loss of productivity, enterprises can get smarter about delivering email in batches at designated times. I'd bet this alone would boost efficiency all around. There would be that much less pressure on employees to respond right away as email is received but be able to better focus on the tasks at hand.

Next is of course dealing with your own inbox. Personal email hygiene requires that you don't use reading email as a procrastination tool but instead be more purposeful. Multiple techniques exist based on your own preferences but the biggest is to set aside focused times during the day and attend to email only during those time slots.

Lastly, email, while simple and intuitive, is not ideal for all types of collaboration scenarios and communication purposes. As described in our enterprise collaboration and social software research, different tools like Instant Messaging, Chat, Microblogs, and Social Networking-style updates are all available to supplement email. Each has its uses in different contexts. Digital workplaces need to understand this communication-channel mix and enable their employees to utilize the best-suited tools in different contexts.

2014 Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Market Analysis #e20 #DigitalWorkplace Mon, 27 Jan 2014 13:36:00 +0000 We have just published our 2014 edition of the Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Market Analysis. This advisory looks at how the marketplace – both in terms of products and vendors – is evolving.

Overall, this marketplace is exhibiting greater signs of maturity. Gone are the vast promises of enterprise “transformation” and employee “liberation,” in favor of more staid — albeit highly critical — improvements.

We also find that pure-play vendors exhibit viability, but many of them are also shifting or narrowing their focus. As a customer, make sure that you pay close attention to product roadmaps and strategy shifts.

Figure 1: Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Reality Check 2014 - large size

The advisory is available for immediate download to our subscribers. If you’re not yet a subscriber, get in touch with us.

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

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

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

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

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

Ten 2014 Technology Predictions #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Tue, 14 Jan 2014 14:26:00 +0000 It's that time of year for our team of Real Story Group analysts to reveal our 2014 predictions, where we try to predict what the future holds in the technology world.

Predicting the future is always tricky. We all want to gaze forward, but none of us is consistently prescient. In the list below, we identify ten trends that we think will happen this year. As such, they tend to be less “futuristic,” but ideally more practical.

As always, there’s a fine line between prediction and aspiration; in some cases below, we cite some trends that we might wish will happen.

This is our eighth year in a row doing this humbling exercise. If you'd like to see how we've done previously, you can view past predictions here: 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

Here's our 2014 technology predictions:

1. Ascent of the "Sanctioned Second-Fiddle" CMS

2. Delayed SharePoint 2013 Adoption

3. Microsoft Backtracks on SharePoint in the Cloud

4. Enterprises Start to Own Mobile Experiences

5. Cross-Platform Mobile Compatibility Gets Worse

6. Standalone Enterprise Portals Marketplace Becomes a Two-Horse Race

7. "ECM" Will Finally Die

8. WCXM Suite Backlash

9. PaaS CMS Displaces SaaS CMS

10. DAM and MAM Vendors Add Social and Marketing Features

Non subscribers: go here to download the complete Advisory Paper with a full description of each of this year's ten predictions.

Real Story Group subscribers can get the Advisory Paper directly.

Updated social software evaluations - blueKiwi, Drupal Commons, Igloo, Socialtext, and Telligent #DigitalWorkplace #e20 Tue, 14 Jan 2014 08:56:00 +0000 We have just released an update to our Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Evaluations. The reviews for blueKiwi, Drupal Commons, Igloo, Socialtext and Telligent have been updated. Here's a sneak peek.

European Systems Integrator Atos is now blueKiwi's parent entity and blueKiwi is often sold to customers as part of their "zero email" collaboration offering. Even if you are not looking to throw out email lock, stock and barrel, blueKiwi -- though lacking strong traditional collaboration functionality like blogs and wikis -- offers decent informal networking functionality. Footprint remains largely Europe-centric, though.

A common concern for large enterprises considering open source solutions is the kind of support they can expect to receive. We note in our review of Drupal Commons that enterprises can purchase support from commercial company Acquia irrespective of the Drupal distribution you are running. This is important, because the "Commons" distribution tends to run behind the latest Drupal releases...

Canadian vendor Igloo that targets mid-level enterprises, has been making its solution more mobile device friendly through responsive design techniques. Igloo's been slow to offer pre-packaged templates for common use cases though.

Socialtext, now owned by HR software vendor Peoplefluent, finally released a major update after a gap of nearly two years. Despite this, Socialtext still has a lot of catch up to do in terms of the product functionality and features it offers.

Telligent is now called Zimbra following a merger with a workgroup email solutions vendor Zimbra. Both product families are sold separately. Like Socialtext, Zimbra Social too, has a lot of catch up to do and the company plans to overhaul the product in an upcoming release.

Subscribers can download the full evaluations here. Or you can obtain a complimentary excerpt here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Show me the ROI, not the discount... #e20 #socbiz Mon, 16 Dec 2013 12:33:00 +0000 Among the swarm of promotional emails that floods my inbox daily, one caught my attention. It held out a tantalizing promise: “Work faster & smarter in the new year.” It seemed to offer a super bargain: “Up to 67% off.”

I know North America is in the thick of the holiday shopping season. The weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas ring up to 40% of many retailers’ annual sales. Black Friday, Cyber Monday. and the in-between Shopaholic Saturday & Sunday are quasi-religious holidays themselves, sacrosanct for shoppers because of the seemingly all-around discounts.

Even then I was a bit surprised by what’s being offered for sale at a steep discount in that email: VMWare’s enterprise social software Socialcast.

Figure 1: Cyber week Sale: Socialcast Marketing Campaign

Now, at RSG we also occasionally run promotions on specific research reports, including at the end of the year, but what to make of holiday sales of subscriptions to not-so-simple enterprise software?

Obviously, Socialcast is trying to garner as much revenue as possible before the quarter and year turn. Perhaps they are driven by the need to meet a certain revenue target inked into the VMware acquisition agreement. Or perhaps they’re just trying to meet sales quotas, possibly  trying to nudge buyers who’ve got unspent budgets. Maybe they’re running an experimental campaign to see where it goes.

Whatever be their motivations, as a prospective customer, I hope you’re not swayed by price or price cuts alone. Yes, enterprise social software is maturing and we see some convergence of functionality offered by the different suites. But the social software category is not so commoditized that price alone should be the deciding criterion, especially since switching costs remain quite high.  As a customer, you will be best served relying on the scenario-based selection approach that we champion.

So, am I saying that Socialcast’s offer is a bad deal? No – just counseling that if and only if Socialcast is the right fit for your requirements, then by all means, grab that offer. This holds true not just for Socialcast but for any other vendor as well. Otherwise, you’ll be putting the cart before the horse, if you’re driven solely by the discount on offer.

Be a smart shopper -- look at "fit" and ROI, not the discount.

Update to our Digital Marketing and Digital Workplace vendor map #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Wed, 27 Nov 2013 18:12:00 +0000 We recently updated our Digital Marketing and Digital Workplace vendor map, which plots technology vendors across our nine different research areas.

As always, our aim is to capture the major players who offer technologies to help you manage your digital marketing and workplace initiatives. Our research evaluates products from all the vendors on this map, and more.

The number of "hub" vendors offering multiple technologies continues to increase, and we suspect that will continue in 2014. Vendors focused on either digital marketing or digital workplace / intranet technologies continue to converge with one another, mostly via acquisitions. Still, integrating the multiple offerings of a single vendor is sometimes like transferring tube lines at Bank station in London: a lot more effort than it should be to get from point A to point B.

As always, just let us know if you have questions about these players and the technologies they offer.