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

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

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

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

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

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

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2015 Digital Workplace and Marketing Technology Predictions #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Wed, 10 Dec 2014 18:05:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2797-2015-Digital-Workplace-and-Marketing-Technology-Predictions? It's that time of year for our team of Real Story Group analysts to reveal our 2015 predictions, where we try to predict what the future holds in the technology world.

Predicting the future is always a bit precarious. We all want to peer forward, but in the real world, there are no magic crystal balls. In the list below, we identify ten trends that RSG thinks will happen in 2015. 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 ninth 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: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

Here's RSG's 2015 technology predictions:

1. DAM Vendors Will Roll out DAM Lite

2. Hybrid ECM Will Come of Age

3. HR Will Rejoin the Digital Workplace Conversation

4. Enterprise Social – Hype around Unified Enterprise Messaging

5. Digital Workplace Will Say “Hello” to Analytics and Big Data

6. A SharePoint 2016 Yawn

7. Marketing Virtual Data Warehouses Will Go Mainstream

8. Drupal Split Will Characterize WCM Market Bifurcation

9. Enterprise Mobile: Apps Will Get Unbundled

10. Connected Devices Will Become a More Ubiquitous Channel

Real Story Group subscribers can download the full Advisory Paper that describes these trends (and how you should prepare and respond) in more detail.

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Updated evaluations - Atlassian, IBM Connections, Oracle WebCenter, tibbr, and Yammer #socbiz #DigitalWorkplace Wed, 03 Dec 2014 13:29:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2793-Updated-evaluations-Atlassian-IBM-Connections-Oracle-WebCenter-tibbr-and-Yammer? The worlds of enterprise social networking and more prosaic digital collaboration continue to converge, though probably not as fast as you'd like.

That's just one of the conclusions from latest version of RSG's Enterprise Collaboration & Social Software Report, which contains updated evaluations for

  • Atlassian Confluence
  • IBM Connections
  • Microsoft Yammer
  • Oracle WebCenter / OSN
  • TIBCO tibbr

Consult the report for detailed evaluations of 25 different offerings, but here is a sneak peek from our most recent updates.

Atlassian, most known for its bug tracking software JIRA, is not your typical enterprise software firm but it has a certain Aussie X-factor and is generally considered to be open and customer-friendly. Confluence, it's wiki + team collaboration software is reasonably mature, but does not cater much to social-networking oriented scenarios.

IBM Connections, originally a set of different independent applications thrown together, is evolving and the latest release does a much better job of unifying the overall user experience. Connections customers tend to fall into two categories: those who kick the tires and move on to alternatives after finding it's not for them; or, Big Blue loyalists who invest heavily in customizing the platform to obtain sufficient value success.

Microsoft has indicated that developing close integration between Yammer and SharePoint remains a priority for them. But we contend that enterprise customers should not shy away from exploring Yammer alternatives. Among other reasons, architectural concerns around integration persist, particularly if you are an on-prem SharePoint customer.

Oracle appears to have dialed down the ambitions for it's Oracle Social Network (OSN) product and seems largely content with socializing Oracle middleware and it's other enterprise applications.

High-flying social layer vendors may have lost some sheen, but TIBCO's tibbr has managed to seize momentum in the last few years and gain a fair bit of visibility in the marketplace. However, you'll find traditional collaboration features on the lighter side here.

Subscribers can grab the full latest report or individual chapters right away. Others can get a complimentary sample chapter here.

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Why HR Should Care About the Digital Workplace #DigitalWorkplace #intranet Mon, 01 Dec 2014 12:55:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2792-Why-HR-Should-Care-About-the-Digital-Workplace? My colleague Kashyap has analyzed recent survey results that show corporate communications teams paying more attention than HR leaders to digital workplace issues. I'd like to think this will change, and anecdotally, I see it changing in more forward-thinking enterprises.

Why? Because the quality of your digital workplace turns out to be a big-time HR issue.

Transitive property of employee user experience

More and more we hear that enterprises look for employees who can think on their feet and make good decisions. Yet many internal business information systems treat employees like children, or worse yet, like assembly-line robots.

This phenomenon leads to what I call the transitive property of employee digital user experience:

  1. "This business application thinks I'm an idiot"
  2. "It's an enterprise application" - Therefore...
  3. "The enterprise thinks I'm an idiot"

Some organizations have tried to escape this dilemma by experimenting with social technologies and encumbering those projects with "transformational" ambitions. Well, if you've seen RSG's Social-Collaboration Technology evaluation research, you know that:

  • Many of these platforms have serious usability problems themselves, and
  • Social technology is less about becoming exceptional and more about improving your business capabilities

The digital workplace is bigger than any one application or system. It's a mindset that employee effectiveness matters just as much when they are working in front of a screen.

Clearly there's a role here for HR

Those HR teams that have made strong moves to add employee engagement and effectiveness to their portfolio are particularly well placed to add significant value.

For a growing number of employees, the workplace has become largely digital. IT quite properly seeks to address enterprise concerns like security, cost-effectiveness, and architectural alignment. But institutionally, who advocates for the needs of the employee? Your best colleagues are increasingly judging the quality of their workplace by the usefulness of their business applications.

HR leaders who don't want employees to feel like idiots will pay closer attention to just how effective that digital workplace really is...

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Why the ship has sailed for Facebook as an enterprise social network #e20 #DigitalWorkplace Wed, 19 Nov 2014 11:54:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2789-Why-the-ship-has-sailed-for-Facebook-as-an-enterprise-social-network? No doubt that the Enterprise Social Software segment -- now part of the broader Enterprise Collaboration software market -- largely came into existence because of the huge popularity of consumer social networks like Facebook and Twitter. Not surprisingly we often hear that Facebook itself will make a play for the enterprise market. Facebook itself has not officially commented but the media is abuzz about "Facebook @ Work."

This Ship Has Sailed

If Facebook makes an entry into the enterprise social network segment, it may well find that the ESN ship has sailed long back. Circa 2014, enterprise customers are not generally interested in horizontal ESNs but want practical use cases that leverage social networking features. While Facebook may get some traction among smaller businesses, larger customers want to socialize business processes and legacy systems – what we termed “social as a layer" approach.

In our 2014 market analysis of this space, we called out that many pure-play social networking vendors are specializing and narrowing their focus. For instance, Socialtext is focused on HR functions. Salesforce Chatter is largely for sales and marketing departments. Under Atos, blueKiwi wants to replace email. Sitrion wants socialize SAP. Cisco threw in the towel. Many of these vendors have built integrations and connectors to other enterprise systems. (And If I may digress: like a couple in an arranged marriage, Yammer and SharePoint are still learning about each other's strengths and weaknesses.)

The crux is that customers and now vendors have moved on from simple social networking services. It’s now about use cases, integration, and ultimately employee productivity and engagement. Facebook should not expect any easy sailing here.

What Differentiators?

Facebook might lend itself to interesting enterprise use cases like expertise location. But the highly hyped “Social Graph” search function continues to underwhelm even a couple of years after it’s launch.

Facebook could also be hoping to leverage it’s high user experience quotient. That may not be enough of a differentiator, though, since many ESN vendors can offer similar experiences.

In addition to product relevance, Facebook also has to contend with other factors. Very few software companies can target both consumer and enterprise customers. Arguably, Adobe and Microsoft have been able to taste success in both segments, but Google and Apple remain consumer software companies while IBM and Oracle are enterprise plays, and the twain does not meet. Sure, Google Apps is a billion dollar business (largely on the strength of its email offering), but the sentiment that Google “just does not get enterprise needs” remains widely prevalent.

So as a technology customer, don't let this latest news distract you from your long-term strategy.  Facebook will find the odds stacked against it in any enterprise foray.

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Corporate Comms driving enterprise social-collaboration more than HR? #DigitalWorkplace #trends Wed, 12 Nov 2014 10:57:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2780-Corporate-Comms-driving-enterprise-social-collaboration-more-than-HR? RSG's 2014 Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software Survey reveals an evolving organizational dynamic for internal departments involved in collaboration and social initiatives. 

Funding and Sponsorship

Funding and sponsorship remains quite diverse across enterprises.  IT funds or sponsors 32% of collab-social initiatives and thus emerges as the #1 department. But perhaps more interesting is the converse: IT does not sponsor nearly 70% of the total projects.

Business units (as an umbrella for non-IT functions) are much more actively involved in driving these projects. Broadly, this mirrors the rise of the SaaS model in the industry, which makes it easier -- but not always ideal -- for non-technical stakeholders to procure software. 

Another important trend is the rise of Corporate Communications. It ranks ahead of the traditional departments like Knowledge Management and Human Resources. We term this  as "Communications 2.0"  -- internal communications team taking a greater interest in fostering  employee-to-employee communications. 

Defining Strategy

Corporate Communications and IT emerge as the top 2 departments, again underscoring the key role comms teams are playing. The relatively lesser involvement of HR departments is a tad surprising, perhaps reflecting HR's near-term focus on optimizing HR-specific systems as the broader role of HR in the organization itself is undergoing a change. 

Implementation 

Not surprisingly, IT leads the implementation of about a third of collab-social projects. But note that responsibilty for the other two-thirds of the proejcts rest with other departments. This suggests that most enteprises do not consider collaboration projects to be purely technology projects but "business" initiatives.

Clearly that's a positive development, but I'll add a note of caution. When IT gets left out of the picture completely, projects may not necessarily scale well beyond the departmental level: the challenges of enterprise-wide deployments often involve complexities that usually require IT to untangle. 

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SharePoint - no longer a swiss army knife? #sharepoint #e20 Mon, 03 Nov 2014 12:05:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2778-SharePoint-no-longer-a-swiss-army-knife? Conventional wisdom has it that SharePoint's versatility and use case diversity makes it a "swiss army knife" for enterprise collaboration. The times are however changing.

While many newer use cases, particularly around enterprise social networking have emerged, RSG's 2014 Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software survey reveals that SharePoint is typically not getting deployed for these applications.

Consider the graph below.  Customers indicate employing SharePoint primarily for the traditional use cases for which it is known: internal web content management and enterprise portals, document and records management, project collaboration, and file sharing. More than 60% of customers report exclusive or mature usage of SharePoint here.

But SharePoint sees considerably lower usage for newer applications. Only 15 to 20% of customers report exclusive or mature usage when it comes to social networking (even considering Yammer), external website management, external collaboration and digital asset management.

Put another way, you need to supplement or complement SharePoint with other tools for these use cases. SharePoint is no swiss army knife and one platform does not fit all use cases.

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Two Steps Towards a More Effective Digital Workplace #DigitalWorkplace #KMers Thu, 30 Oct 2014 16:35:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2779-Two-Steps-Towards-a-More-Effective-Digital-Workplace? If your team is trying to build a more effective digital workplace, consider participating in a couple of activities, one virtual and the other real-life.

First, make sure to participate in Jane McConnell's longstanding and richly anticipated annual Digital Workplace Survey. Multiple employees from the same organization can contribute, so tell your colleagues, too. You receive a copy of the results for participating.

Second, if you find yourself attending KMWorld 2014 next week in Washington, DC, consider dropping by our workshop, Guide to Selecting the Right Digital Workplace Technologies.

Also, with a KMWorld pass, you can attend the SharePoint Symposium. This year finds SharePoint at a cross-roads; savvy enterprise leaders will plan carefully to maximize their investments in this huge (but often beguiling!) platform.

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Webinar - Benchmark Your Collaboration and Social Technology Efforts #e20 #socbiz Tue, 28 Oct 2014 11:36:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2777-Webinar-Benchmark-Your-Collaboration-and-Social-Technology-Efforts? Please join me this Thursday for a fast-paced webinar revealing key results from our recently-concluded customer survey on Collaboration and Social Technology in the Enterprise (download summary report here).

Webinar: Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software – Industry Survey 2014 Findings
Oct 30, 2014 12:00 pm ET / 16:00 UTC

Register for the webinar.

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An Effective Digital Workplace for 2015 #DigitalWorkplace #kmworld Mon, 20 Oct 2014 12:32:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2774-An-Effective-Digital-Workplace-for-2015? It is easy to think that everyone else has figured out the Digital Workplace - while your enterprise is struggling to find its way. In reality, the concept of a Digital Workplace is still a relatively new, and most enterprises are in a similar spot of cautious experimentation.

As to be expected in a period of experimentation, we are seeing a combination of clear successes along with some impressive failures.

In many cases, enterprises are struggling with the wrong technologies. Getting the right technology fit alone is not sufficient for building an effective digital workplace, but it is increasingly necessary.

In two weeks, we'll be conducting our yearly workshop at KM World on Selecting the Right Digital Workplace Technologies.

We hope you will join us in Washington D.C. on November 4 at 1:30 to benchmark your experiences against what we're seeing from our subscribers who are on the front lines of this Digital Workplace evolution.

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Enterprise Social-Collaboration: Is Our Will Still Greater Than Our Wallets? #socbiz #trends Tue, 14 Oct 2014 10:50:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2771-Enterprise-Social-Collaboration:-Is-Our-Will-Still-Greater-Than-Our-Wallets? Since social and collaboration technology has been all the rage since at least 2008, you would think that enterprises are spending a ton of money on it.  RSG's recent customer survey research counters this assumption. 

Amid concerns on behalf of executives and line employees alike (download summary report here), enterprise spend here is lighter than you might think. Perhaps it is still early days for this technology, but meanwhile, in the words of a former U.S. President, our will seems greater than our wallets.

How much are organizations spending on social-collaboration technology?

RSG’s 2014 survey suggests that the median annual budget on social software is US $875,000 for organizations that have more than 10,000 employees. The median budgets are $125,000 and $100,000 for the next levels (size) of organizations.


Fig.1: Median Social-Collaboration budgets by enterprise size.

Using the mean as the average value measure, the annual social software budget for large enterprises is $1.6 million. For the next level of organizations, it drops to $223,000 and $130,000 respectively.

 
Fig.2: Average Social-Collaboration budgets by enterprise size.

Note that this total budget includes software, hardware, consulting, tech support, and internal staff costs. The two biggest line items are software and internal staff costs, at about 30% each.

Compared to the other software categories (e.g., Enterprise Portals, CRM) budgets for social-collaboration initiatives clearly fall on the lower end. Moreover, it appears that spend in Europe could be substantially lower than in North America.

What Accounts for Smaller-Than-Expected Spend?

Some hints come from the survey's other findings:

  • Chronic low adoption, likely reducing enterprise footprint
  • Pervasive understaffing (i.e., companies are rolling out technology but not beefing up necessary support and facilitation staff commensurately)

Note, however, the sizable difference between large (1,000-10,000 employees) and very large (> 10,000) enterprises.  As with any other technology, doing social and collaboration at scale -- especially global scale -- becomes a qualitatively different challenge, a finding borne out by numerous advisory calls with our largest subscribers.

What This Means for You

The million dollar deals that vendors often tout tend to be more the exception rather than the norm. If as a customer you believe your organization is underinvesting here, well, at least you're not alone.

A silver lining is that perhaps there is a lot of room for growth. Our survey finds you telling us that your #1 challenge is lack of executive buy-in. Adoption and budgets will go up only when the employees using the software and the executives paying for it see greater use and business value.

PS: For more on budget split across different categories, geographical differences, and a lot of other survey findings, RSG subscribers can join us for an exclusive webinar with all the details on 16th October. Non-subscribers can receive a summary overview via a complimentary webinar on 23rd October.

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Enterprise Mobile - More Talk, Less Collaboration #DigitalWorkplace #mobile Wed, 08 Oct 2014 12:04:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2769-Enterprise-Mobile-More-Talk-Less-Collaboration? Enterprises increasingly aspire to mobile-enable the digital workplace. But how effectively can employees access social and collaboration applications from mobile devices today?

RSG’s 2014 survey reveals that there is still a long way to go.

Currently, communication-oriented applications have become the most mobile-enabled, and not surprisingly email tops that list. The subsequent top mobile applications are employee directory (presumably to look up contact details to call your colleagues) and instant messaging.

Only slightly more than a third of the organizations mobile-enable their social and collaboration applications, such as discussion forums and central document repositories. Beyond the challenges of smaller screen sizes lie security concerns that may limit access here. In any case, less than a tenth of the respondents report that they their enterprise social networks are effectively available via the mobile devices. (Note: micro-enterprises of less than 20 employees were excluded from the results.)

As I note in an earlier blog, enterprises may not be effectively exploiting the potential of mobile social networks.

Overall, it appears that mobile in the enterprise remains more about communication and less about collaboration. And it’s definitely early days for mobile social networks.

RSG Collaboration & Social Technology stream subscribers can download a detailed report with narrative analysis, recommendations, and numerous charts.

Non-subscribers can obtain the summary results here.

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Customer Survey Findings - Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software #KMers #DigitalWorkplace Mon, 06 Oct 2014 12:56:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2762-Customer-Survey-Findings-Enterprise-Collaboration-and-Social-Software? RSG conducted an online survey during July-August 2014 to obtain practitioner perspective on key enterprise collaboration and social software themes, including common use cases, satisfaction with tools and vendors, implementation patterns, and challenges. The survey included a set of SharePoint-specific questions for organizations using that platform.

The final survey results included a cross-section of organizations drawn from a variety of geographies and industries.

Here's a sneak peek into some of the key take-aways:

  • Enterprise satisfaction with social collaboration technology remains middling overall
  • Traditional collaboration use cases display higher levels of maturity than newer social networking-oriented business scenarios
  • On-premise installations remain the dominant deployment model today, but cloud-based architectures predominate future plans, albeit with somewhat less interest in migrating to Office 365 among SharePoint customers

Survey results indicate less progress and sophistication in enterprise social collaboration initiatives than industry case-studies might suggest; in these still-early days, savvy customers should perform careful technology due diligence and plan comprehensive strategies for success.

RSG Collaboration & Social technology stream subscribers should download the full report with detailed narrative analysis and numerous charts.

If you are a survey respondent and opted to obtain the summary results, you should have already received a link to obtain it (if we missed you, ping us at info@realstorygroup.com).

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Yammer versus Sitrion-Newsgator #socbiz #microsoft Thu, 25 Sep 2014 19:32:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2761-Yammer-versus-Sitrion-Newsgator? Let's say your enterprise licenses SharePoint. You know that it's social networking (and some collaboration) capabilities are limited. What do you do?

It turns out you have many choices. For larger enterprises, however, a debate often emerges about Yammer versus Sitrion (neé Newsgator). In fact, that's a common advisory discussion with our research subscribers.

The comparison is particularly timely, because SharePoint promoters increasingly wax about future Yammer-SharePoint integration, even if that journey has to date remained slow and halting. (Though the fact that Microsoft is killing off some SharePoint Online features perhaps suggests a greater seriousness around Yammer.)

Contrasting the Two Vendors

Yammer and Sitrion are actually quite different, even if functionally they overlap a bit. Consider:

  • Yammer is available for free or fairly low cost; Sitrion can become pricey
  • Sitrion provides finished applications; Yammer is just a set of features (mostly a microblogging service), much the same way SharePoint is
  • Yammer is only available in the cloud (though not the Office 365 cloud); Sitrion can be installed on-premise as well as in the cloud (with some exceptions)
  • Sitrion runs pretty much inside SharePoint; Yammer runs pretty much next to SharePoint
  • Yammer has a huge, steady, corporate parent; Sitrion does not
  • Sitrion has historically emphasized SharePoint integration; Yammer has historically emphasized being cool

Well, the list goes on. For a full comparison of these two offerings, consult our detailed evaluation research. In any case, don't default to any SharePoint add-on tool without careful testing against practical, business-oriented use cases.

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How to be a smart consumer of analyst research Mon, 11 Aug 2014 16:39:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2738-How-to-be-a-smart-consumer-of-analyst-research? 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.

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Facebook for your enterprise, again? #e20 #socialmedia Wed, 23 Jul 2014 16:14:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2730-Facebook-for-your-enterprise-again? 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.

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What's the mobile strategy for your enterprise social network? #DigitalWorkplace #mobile Mon, 21 Jul 2014 11:21:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2728-Whats-the-mobile-strategy-for-your-enterprise-social-network? 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.

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Call for Participation - RSG Survey on Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software #DigitalWorkplace #e20 Wed, 16 Jul 2014 10:41:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2727-Call-for-Participation-RSG-Survey-on-Enterprise-Collaboration-and-Social-Software? 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. 

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The Biggest Enterprise Roadmap Regret #EntArch #pmot Tue, 15 Jul 2014 13:44:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2725-The-Biggest-Enterprise-Roadmap-Regret? 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.

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How to Select the Right Collaboration and Social Technology - Webinar #socbiz #e20 Wed, 09 Jul 2014 12:06:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2724-How-to-Select-the-Right-Collaboration-and-Social-Technology-Webinar? 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.

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Updated enterprise social-collaboration evaluations - Jive and VMWare Socialcast #DigitalWorkplace #e20 Tue, 24 Jun 2014 19:05:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2721-Updated-enterprise-social-collaboration-evaluations-Jive-and-VMWare-Socialcast? 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...

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Should You Use CRM Platforms to Manage Documents? #ecm #mobile Tue, 10 Jun 2014 12:32:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2718-Should-You-Use-CRM-Platforms-to-Manage-Documents? In a webinar last week on options for enabling salespeople to access documents, one alternative I discussed was to use your incumbent salesforce automation / customer relationship management (SFA/CRM) platform for document management. Many CRM platforms now provide interesting capabilities like basic document lifecycle management and file sharing as part of their core services.

Advantages

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

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

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

Disadvantages

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

Finally, mobile access presents yet another challenge. Mobile interfaces into CRM-type tools could prove overly complex for simple file sharing. In fact, salespeople will frequently need a different mobile app for file-related functionality when separated from that platform’s core functionality. Also, you will likely not get advanced features beyond really basic ones -- such as sync across multiple devices and so forth.

Salesforce.com is probably the most well-known example here, although several other platforms offer similar document and file management services. In fact, Salesforce offers multiple options, most notably Salesforce Files (earlier called Chatterbox). However, that offering is undergoing significant changes in the wake of Salesforce’s acquisition of connector vendor EntropySoft. Salesforce has had multiple changes to its document management strategy and that should give enterprises some pause.

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

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

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London Calling Part 1: Technology Week #mobile #socbiz Mon, 02 Jun 2014 15:10:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2709-London-Calling-Part-1:-Technology-Week? 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!

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Social-Enabling your enterprise circa 2014 #socbiz #sharepoint Fri, 16 May 2014 12:13:00 +0000 http://www.realstorygroup.com/Blog/2707-Social-Enabling-your-enterprise-circa-2014? 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.

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