Real Story Group Blog posts about Vendor Viability & Financials Copyright (c) 2016, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 11/24/2015 00:00:00 60 Teradata files for divorce from MarTech. What gives? #digitalmarketing #martech Tue, 24 Nov 2015 16:09:00 +0000 Teradata, one of the vendors we evaluate in our Marketing Automation and Social Technology research stream, announced that is looking to sell it's Marketing Applications business.

Though known more for its data warehousing software, Teradata has been playing for many years in the marketing technology software segment. According to the company, this retreat from the MarTech space allows it to focus on bread-and-butter data and analytics software.

Teradata's Marketing Cloud

In recent years, Teradata has tried to emulate the acquisitions playbook of MarTech rivals to assemble a marketing cloud of sorts, picking up:

  • Aprimo (marketing resource management)
  • eCircle (email marketing)
  • Ozone (creative agency)
  • Argyle (social marketing)
  • Appoxee (mobile messaging), and most recently...
  • FLXone (data management platform) in Oct 2015

Given these investments, Teradata's move to withdraw from the growing MarTech space may seem a bit surprising at first glance.

Sticking to Its Knitting

However, these Marketing Applications represented less than a tenth of the company's overall revenues. Also, though some products in Teradata's marketing portfolio (e.g., Aprimo) could be considered as being among the leaders in specific categories, the entire platform as a whole did not sizzle, and much integration work lay ahead. This would require ongoing resources and investments. Teradata decided (reasonably so in my opinion) to put its resources to use elsewhere in its core business, which is also in a flux because of cloud-adoption and newer Big Data technologies. 

In the MarTech space, Teradata was in a curious position. Compared to the larger players competing for large enterprise business (such as Adobe and Salesforce), Teradata had a major gap to close both with respect to the product offering and the ecosystem around the product. At the other end, SaaS vendors (such as HubSpot and Marketo - both of which have revenues comparable to Teradata Marketing Applications BU) are perceived to be nimbler and are aggressively garnerning business in the medium-sized enterprise segment. As a consequence, rivals were outpacing Teradata in terms of traction and growth

Figure: Marketing Cloud Annual Revenues by Company. Source: RSG estimates and company reports

Their current decision to hang a "for sale" sign on the Marketing Applications business is simply an acknowledgement of this: they were not willing/able to continue the investments needed to break into the big league of end-to-end marketing clouds.

By the way, it was not widely reported at the time, but in June 2015 Teradata took a loss and wrote down $340 million associated with its marketing applications acquisitions -- a signal that their MarTech business was not doing as well as hoped for.

What are the implications for you as a customer?

How this impacts you the enterprise buyer depends on who ends up buying Teradata's MarTech business. If you are a current customer, expect some near-term uncertainty as the sales process gets underway and the new owners take charge.

If you are currently in the market for MarTech software, you don't have to necessarily exclude Teradata's toolset from your selection shortlist, but until at least the dust settles down, always remember that you have many alternatives.

The Missing Customer in Dell-plus-EMC #Cloud #storage Mon, 12 Oct 2015 11:49:00 +0000 The tech media is abuzz, covering the biggest industry merger in a decade as Dell and EMC confirm merger rumors and tie the knot today. The general consensus is that the two firms bring a certain "synergy" as a single entity. Maybe so, but the world in which that really mattered has long passed.

Different Firms, Similar Strategies

Dell and EMC have actually traveled similar paths. Both started as hardware companies, then acquired software vendors (especially EMC), and then built services arms (especially Dell). Both made some good acquisitions and poor ones. Both thought that by combining hardware, software, and services they could provide "complete solutions."

Both vendors have struggled in recent years to move the needle much in terms of enterprise footprint. This is a marriage of two declining concerns. They could achieve some back-office efficiencies, but they want to tell a more exciting story on the revenue side.

That story will like likely sound like this: you license laptops, servers, and consulting from Dell, and enterprise software and storage from EMC, potentially as semi-integrated bundles.

Enterprise customers are smarter than you think

This buffet-style vision assumes that enterprise IT leaders simply find their world too complicated, and desire a single vendor who can just fix everything for them. This may have been the case in the 1990s, but if so, those days are long gone. The best IT leaders today embrace complexity, and value architectural flexibility over supplier lock-in.

Enterprise IT is hard, but the vast majority of you are smart enough to know that just because you bought some storage from EMC doesn't mean that you need a clumsy mastodon like EMC-Documentum to manage your documents.

I don't see a future where customers gain anything from procuring Dell servers and EMC storage from the same vendor. EMC and Dell have each failed separately to effectively bundle their manifold offerings already; what makes them think it will more be successful together?

Of course this whole negotiation may actually have little to do with you the customer. In the end, M&A deals often get done because investors see near-term shareholder gains, rather than long-term customer value.

What you should do

This is the part of the post where I typically encourage you the customer to do something differently. But this time, I'll just advise to keep being yourself.

In a world of shrinking datacenters with expanding clouds, a thinner SharePoint, a mobile workforce, and a more customer-focused IT operation, you should keep seeking out vendors for the quality of their individual offerings, not their breadth.

If we can help you make the right strategic decisions, don't hesitate to reach out.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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


Box Unboxing into Content and Collaboration #ecm #box Thu, 12 Mar 2015 06:33:00 +0000 Box has been a popular vendor in file sync and sharing marketplace; however it now wants to move beyond that, fueled in part by new funding from its early 2015 IPO.

Box sees itself as a broader provider of content and collaboration services.  The vendor wants to become a content layer that licensees can use to build their own applications that access Box’s underlying services. This is a major shift and will have architectural implications going forward.

We explore Box's prospects and provide more details in a just released update to our ECM & Cloud File Sharing vendor evaluations. The new release also includes updates to our evaluation of OpenText, based on several customer inputs.

You can download a sample here.

Ektron Plus EPiServer - Less Than the Sum of Their Parts? #wcm #trends Mon, 15 Dec 2014 13:33:00 +0000 Private equity firm Accel-KKR has purchased web content and experience management (WCM) vendor EPiServer while taking what looks like a controlling interest in a competing player, Ektron. What should we make of this? And more importantly, what's the impact for you the customer?

[Note: we have updated analysis based on January, 2015 developments.]

Three Options

It's not clear what Accel-KKR will do with these two stepchildren. They may not have made up their minds yet.

However, I think they have three broad options, each with different impacts for customers.

  1. Merge the two firms and technologies
  2. Operate a single "portfolio" company with multiple tools
  3. Don't make any changes at all

Option 1: A Merger (a.k.a., EPiServer take-over)

This sort of "roll-up" strategy, combining the companies and the technologies, often seems attractive on the surface. Owners usually tout "synergies" in these sorts of mergers, like a kind of marriage between Mr. Ektron and Ms. EPiServer. His brand recognition plus her great technology! His North American office plus her European presence! His direct sales operation plus her great integrator channel network!

Well, opposites attract, but they don't always make good long-term marriages. I can't think of single instance where two WCM firms or technologies merged successfully into a single entity.

Ektron and EPiServer compete in the mid-market, but their toolsets are very different. The most meaningful difference: they live on different sides of the product vs. platform divide. As subscribers to RSG's WCM Evaluation stream know, EPiServer is a more extensible but complicated platform; Ektron is more of a website-in-a-box product.

So in this case, realistically it would be Ektron technology getting supplanted by the more modern EPiServer toolset, essentially an acquisition by the Swedish firm.

If you're an Ektron customer, you'd want to think twice before defaulting to a wholesale replacement of your system, particularly for a more complex offering that typically requires an outside partner to implement. Such a distraction would suck up months if not years of your digital plans -- and budgets. You would be just as well served to investigate other tools.

Option 2: Together But Separate

The idea here is that investors build a single "portfolio" entity where sales and marketing people can offer both products as alternate solutions based on customer needs. Want simpler and US-based? Go with Ektron. Want more customizable with European footprint? Pick EPiServer.

Sounds appealing, but here again, there's no precedent for this working out in the WCM marketplace. Mediasurface tried it, at one time offering three different WCM systems. They all died.

Then there's the grand-daddy of content management portfolio companies: OpenText. By my count, OpenText built or acquired no less than six WCM tools. The result? Four are dead, the fifth (RedDot) is on life support, and the sixth one (Vignette/WEM) lives in a nursing home.

Note that originally, OpenText had ambitions to combine the best of RedDot with pieces of Vignette and vice-versa. It proved technically impractical, and in any case, customers don't like frankensteined technology.

Option 3: Leave Well Enough Alone

Perhaps ironically, the best option for customers is the least "disruptive."

Both Ektron and EPiServer have been on a journey to catch up to their higher-end competitor Sitecore. Both vendors need more scale and technical acumen, among other improvements, to get there. Both are taking a different tack on the journey, which is not a bad thing. We're about to publish some research suggesting they are closer to Sitecore than you might think. Not a great time for a disruption.

It may be awkward for Accel-KKR to oversee two competing firms that operate independently, but for customers, I think it's the best option.

And North Plains?

It's worth noting that Accel-KKR also has an apparent controlling interest in North Plains, a Digital Asset Management vendor evaluated in RSG's DAM research.

So you could imagine a mega-roll-up across technology sectors here, though I don't see it. The underlying technologies presents a mis-match, as North Plains Telescope runs in Java. Also, WCM vendors in the mid-market typically need to partner with multiple DAM vendors and vice-versa.

Final Advice

There will be a lot of pressure on industry analysts who market their services to vendors and analysts to declare that these transactions are a good deal. The question you'll want answered is, good deal for whom? Right now, the answer may be nobody.

But we'll keep watching.

What the Ektron Drama Means for Customers #wcm #trends Mon, 08 Dec 2014 13:37:00 +0000 WCM vendor Ektron announced last week an additional investment by its largest backer, private equity firm Accel-KKR. You'll find conflicting reports about the exact nature of the deal, but clearly something big has happened.

Ektron says that Accel-KKR -- which already owned 30% of Ektron -- simply took a larger stake. Some older documents leaked to twitter suggest a complete take-over, amid rumors of a similar acquisition by Accel-KKR of EPiServer, an Ektron competitor. Much of this drama is inside baseball, and already the vendor-oriented analyst community is pondering this from an investor and supplier viewpoint.

Let's instead look at it from a customer perspective.

How Ektron Got Here

Though still a major player in the WCM space, Ektron has struggled in recent years. Many of Ektron's problems stemmed from choices made by its longstanding engineering and business leadership. One gets the sense that investors finally lost their patience, and want to accelerate their efforts to modernize the firm.

Whether it's a wholesale take-over or not -- and I suspect it will turn out to be a true acqusition in the end -- things will change for Ektron customers.

What it means for customers

This is a classic good news / bad news story.

Bad News

History suggests that after these sort of ownership shifts, customers can expect some turbulence in the short term, particularly around staff changes that come from further internal reorganization.

In the longer term, smaller Ektron licensees and those who haven't upgraded in recent years might get quietly sloughed off as the company focuses more on lucrative customers going forward.

Private equity owners typically focus on pumping more resources into sales, to try to dress up their portfolio firms for another acquisition by someone else down the road (though I don't foresee many plausible buyers for Ektron on the horizon).

If Accel-KKR does intend to align EPiServer and Ektron in some way, history also suggests that customers of both vendors will suffer, with Ektron licensees especially vulnerable. I'll explore this question in a subsequent post as events unfold.

Good News

In the near term, Accel-KKR will surely continue a journey already underway to professionalize what has traditionally been a sizable but family-run concern. Customers should welcome Ektron  becoming more predictable and less feature-of-the-month-focused on the engineering side. Barring a shotgun wedding with EPiServer, and if investors stay patient enough, the technology could eventually become more stable and more modern underneath the covers.

And remember: in today's WCM marketplace characterized by widespread functional similarity, what's under the covers becomes a major differentiator among vendors.

For more details on how Ektron differs from its competitors (especially EPiServer) consult our Web CMS Report system evaluations.

What the HP Split Means for Autonomy Customers #EntArch #trends Tue, 07 Oct 2014 09:37:00 +0000 This week finds venerable Hewlett-Packard splitting in two: consumer versus enterprise firms. That's probably good news for long-suffering customers of the former Autonomy products.

You know why? Because things couldn't get much worse for them.


Sure, theoretically things could go further downhill. You always got the sense that the "old" HP at least wanted to do the right thing; a new firm with a new culture could mean less integrity, and Autonomy customers have already experienced enough turbulence under the former owners, thank you very much.

Under a new regime, product managers and marketers might also play a little faster and looser, which means more gaps between promise and reality.


On the whole, though, I think customers of the former Autonomy tools stand to benefit. While it's probably too late for products like TeamSite (which needs a complete architectural overhaul), a more focused enterprise group could make the tough choices required to modernize -- or finally shed -- the other technologies.

Also, it means giving up the ghost about "synergies" between HP printers and Autonomy technology like search. HP's IDOL search engine has a long way to go to return to relevance, but at least no one will fantasize anymore about embedding it into $100 inkjet printers.

If you are not an HP software customer

Not an HP enterprise software customer? Wait and watch. Remain cautious about attempts from HP's (well-regarded) services arm to default to HP software -- the way IBM Global Services still sometimes shills for IBM software.

If you want more details on the pros and cons of individual HP-Autonomy products, consult our DAM, WCM, and/or ECM evaluation research.

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...

Updated ECM reviews including Documentum, IBM, Alfresco, Oracle, Microsoft, OpenText, and others #Cloud #ecm Thu, 10 Apr 2014 14:23:00 +0000 This week, we release a new Version 10 of our ECM research. It's a major release and you'll find a lot that's new. Below, I highlight the key changes:

New category of vendors

We now define two categories in the Enterprise Content Management (ECM). These are:

  1. ECM/DM vendors who provide a wide range of services around document and enterprise content management
  2. Cloud-based File Sharing & Sync (CFS) vendors that offer cloud-based services for  lightweight document management, collaboration, sharing, and sync services

The latter is a new category. Popularized by consumer-oriented services like Dropbox, Google Drive, and so forth, vendors such as and Syncplicity (now part of EMC) can provide broad services for cloud-based file sharing, sync, offline work, and lightweight collaboration for enterprises. 

At first blush, it would appear they are two separate marketplaces. However, we’ve found out from our research that there is considerable overlap of services between these Cloud-based File Sharing (CFS) vendors and ECM vendors.

And so, we've renamed our set of evaluations to "ECM and Cloud FileSharing Report."

New Evaluation Scenarios

We revisited our crucial vendor evaluation scenarios and simplified them, to make it easier to compare vendor "fit" across business cases. In particular, we dropped a few scenarios and clarified several others.

New Functional and Technical Evaluation Criteria

Just like scenarios, we also refreshed our evaluation criteria. Specifically for functional criteria, we have added sections on Mobile Access as well as File Sync & Sharing services. For technical criteria, we have added a new section on Cloud Services.

And then you'll all new evaluations of individual vendors. For now, we have updated all the ECM vendors and incorporated existing research CFS vendors.

You can download a sample here.

OpenText Suing Box and Dropbox Buying Readmill - What Does It Mean? #Cloud #EntArch Wed, 02 Apr 2014 16:19:00 +0000 The past few weeks have been abuzz with news in the cloud-based file sharing and sync marketplace. Box filed for an IPO in March, then Dropbox acquired Readmill (h/t David Hobbs), and now OpenText is seeking damages from Box for patent infringement.

This activity strengthens my belief that cloud-file sharing as a simple, stand-alone category of tools is not going to persist for long.

OpenText (who sell multiple content management offerings and has its own cloud-based file sharing service called OpenText Tempo Box) says Box infringed 12 patents in areas such as "System and method for the synchronization of a file in a cache", "Method and system for facilitating marketing dialogues," and "Web-based groupware system." It seems hard to believe these pertain just to cloud-based file sharing and sync capabilities, but OpenText has certainly picked a propitious time to put Box's feet to the fire.

Similarly, Dropbox's acquisition of Readmill shows an industry stretching beyond simple file sharing services. Readmill is a social reading app that allows you to comment, annotate, and participate in discussions while reading a book online on your mobile devices. This gives Dropbox the ability to offer collaborative authoring capabilities such as those provided by Workshare, as well as online document viewing capabilities provided by Box's recently launched "Box View" (which came to Box via its acquisition of Crocodoc).

Cloud file sharing and sync tools have proved immensely popular on the consumer web and are now increasingly targeting enterprise customers. This category of tools got popular due to the simplicity and ease of use of consumer facing services -- such as Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive -- but that may not prove differentiating in the future.

These platforms will increasingly become complex as they transition into areas beyond simple file sharing.  As a result, many tools from adjacent marketplaces will start offering these capabilities as part of their overall functionality. We're already see this happening in case of Document Management vendors, most of who have started offering similar services. Similarly, collaboration vendors and even enterprise software vendors (think provide similar offerings.

For you the customer, the key thing then is to think long term and evaluate if a stand-alone cloud-based file sharing and sync tool is the way to go.  You have several options here.  We discuss some of these in our recently released advisory paper "Giving Your Salespeople Mobile Access to Key Documents: Strategic Options."

Why would Lithium want to acquire Klout? #socialmediamonitoring #socialmedia Wed, 12 Mar 2014 13:06:00 +0000 You know what’s interesting? While the interwebs have been buzzing for about a month now about an alleged acquisition of Klout by Lithium, the potential new parent company still hasn’t as much as peeped about this transaction. Legal terms and obligations notwithstanding, I hope Lithium changed its mind. If they really want to go IPO some day, they might need to make more careful buying decisions.

Lithium, a social CXM vendor headed up by ex-Adobean Rob Tarkoff, didn’t disclose the amount for this potential deal, even though there were reports that papers have been signed. It appears to be mainly for stock options and some cash. Why would they want Klout? Lithium’s agenda is, at best, vague here, given their current technological landscape. But it won’t be the first time they’re having troubles with their strategy and product map.

Personally, I used to like Klout. And what was not to like: usable UI, cool features, the notion of tracking your own personal worth through the (albeit debatable and not entirely scientific) Klout score (ah, vanity fair!). And then they added Klout Perks, where influencers like myself could get access to cool coupons, events, product samples. I stopped loving Klout when they offered a $5-off coupon for McDonalds as their latest perk. But this doesn’t mean others cannot still love Klout and see business value in such a service. After all, they also offer an enterprise version of their software that can supplement your CRM tracking with social attributes.

Klout, as any company who’s been raising money, was ready to sell. Another important point to consider here is that the social-importance ranking engine had started seeing some scepticism in the marketplace. This, of course, is a normal sign of growth, which any “kool kids,” Foursquare/Instagram types have and will go through. But the “break it” or “make it” (i.e., sell now before it’s too late) point is where Klout seemed to have been wavering lately.

The struggle is not simply around your typical startup growing pains and the controversy that surrounds its scoring algorithms -- not to mention the overall idea of calculating your personal worth and importance in the world of social media. Many are skeptical about the value proposition here. Even more people are in disagreement with how Klout defines and measures such a complex notion as “influence.”

In the end, all of this may be pure speculation, as neither Lithium nor Klout have uttered a single breath in denying or confirming the acquisition. Such acquisitions as part of a growth strategy might seem exciting, but as a customer, remember that more pieces does not always mean a larger whole.

Shutterstock: new DAM vendor via WebDAM acquisition? #DAM #finance Fri, 07 Mar 2014 11:00:00 +0000 Commercial stock photo provider Shutterstock decided to acquire WebDAM – a DAM vendor we cover extensively in our Digital & Media Asset Management research. For customers, the outcome of this acquisition could go in one of two directions.

First, Shutterstock may decide to cross-sell WebDAM along with their stock photos, becoming a full-fledged DAM provider - similar to their chief competitor, Getty. Alternatively, it could be that Shutterstock was simply unhappy with its current photo management tool, and decided to change out its backend technology to better serve a growing number of customers. With many of those customers being larger companies, agencies and media organizations, it might make more sense to buy ready-to-serve tech than bake something from scratch in house.

It is fair to say that Shutterstock is one of the major players in the stock photo market, with iStockphoto, Corbis and Getty playing in the same field. Improved customer satisfaction and experience management is what may allow Shutterstock to differentiate itself from the pack, and this is where a DAM product like WebDAM can play a crucial role. Many large ad agencies, like Hogarth, take a similar approach - offering product and service in one package.

WebDAM is a small-ish California-based company of 25 employees. While it is very difficult to differentiate the product in the current crowded DAM market, WebDAM is pushing its cloud/SaaS, web-based DAM agenda. However, there’s little uniqueness in this proposition, as many DAM vendors provide some type of web interface, as well as cloud options of various flavors. For Shutterstock, in the meantime, the appeal is newer technology that is WebDAM, and the ability to put the Shutterstock “face” on top of this DAM system. They can also use it as a portal for licensing, downloading, storing and sharing of digital assets. For stock photo houses and creative agencies alike, it makes sense to own business-critical technology like DAM in this case.

WebDAM founders Jody Vandergriff and Steve Rabkin (who will stay on, by the way, according to the company’s announcement), have never took outside investment, so it’s a natural development to sell when the time and the money is right.

While both companies assure us that WebDAM will maintain its brand identity, we would advise you to look at WebDAM more cautiously in the light of this acquisition. Although WebDAM boasts high customer retention rates, the company’s culture is hectic -- and virtually nothing brings more chaos than an acquisition. This transition into the new parent company will likely make things more unstable, at least in the near term, for both current customers and prospects.

Feel free to contact us to schedule a consultation on this matter, or any other DAM question you may have.

When it rains, it pours (Oracle) clouds #digitalmarketing #Cloud Mon, 06 Jan 2014 17:41:00 +0000 Late last year, Oracle announced it has agreed to acquire Responsys for $1.5 Bn.  San Bruno, CA-based Responsys makes marketing software and targets B2C scenarios.

Oracle already had Eloqua as part of its Marketing Cloud. Both Eloqua and Responsys have similar functionality; it is the focus that was different (B2B vs B2C). So along with the software, what's also important is that Oracle also gets Responsys' 1000 or so employees who have deep expertise in B2C marketing scenarios -- something that Oracle lacked, with its traditional focus on B2B.

Of course, Oracle is not the only vendor to have multiple marketing software tools in their arsenal. Salesforce also has somewhat overlapping tools in ExactTarget and Pardot, so Oracle has just gotten even.

As a customer, choices mean you have access to a broader set of capabilities, spanning a very diverse range of scenarios from a single vendor. This means you have fewer vendors and contracts to deal with (even if not immediately), and signing up for "all you can eat" types of deals can have cost advantages also.

Let's look at some of the technical dimensions here though.

According to Oracle,

"With Responsys, the Oracle Marketing Cloud now provides leading business to consumer (B2C), business to business (B2B), content and social marketing capabilities on a single platform, supporting any industry or business model"

So what is this single platform?

At a high level, there's Oracle’s Customer Experience Cloud, which in turn consists of a Sales Cloud, a Commerce Cloud, a Service Cloud, a Social Cloud, and a Marketing Cloud. Each of these have multiple suites and products. Social Cloud consists of products acquired from Vitrue, Collective Intellect, and Involver. Similarly, Marketing Cloud now consists of Eloqua and Responsys, each of them having multiple modules.  So for example, Responsys' Interact suite actually has five products/modules namely Profile, Program, Campaign, Insight, Content and Connect.

As you can see, even if we concentrate only on Social and Marketing Clouds, there are considerable number of modules, products and overlaps in that "single platform."

Oracle has done this before; at some point in time, they had four or five different Portal products. However, it took a really long time for them to actually consolidate and integrate multiple offerings. So while it may be a good thing to get different options from one single vendor, just be very skeptical of what a "single platform" means. Take your time to understand and account for different complexities and overlaps across different products and then chose the right products for your needs.


Escenic CMS changes owners #publishing #wcm Thu, 21 Nov 2013 09:06:00 +0000 There’s never a dull day in the Web Content and Experience Management industry. If it’s not an acquisition of a product to complement some existing functionality (Sitecore announced today their acquisition of an eCommerce vendor), it is a drastic change of ownership, as with Vizrt selling off its Escenic WCMS.

First, let’s take a little stroll down the memory lane: Vizrt acquired Escenic in 2008 in an effort to complement its digital media publishing technologies targeted at broadcasters (see our MAM research for more details). It seemed like a natural fit, but more so in theory than in practice. The company integrated some pieces of Escenic to a slew of other Vizrt products, but Vizrt continued to most actively sell its 3D graphics engine, as opposed to the WCM component, which languished a bit compared to peers.

It is likely that Escenic was not bringing the desired ROI to Vizrt. Hence, the decision to offload it to a long-time partner and distributor – CCI Europe A/S. The three-stage transaction will be conducted for a total of 4 million USD. The transaction is expected to result in a capital loss for Vizrt, estimated at 0.5 million USD. In short, Escenic remains a very nichey product.

Aarhus, Denmark-based Stibo Group owns CCI Europe, along with other subsidiaries. The company’s history is commendable, dating back to 1794 when it was founded as a Royal Charter/diocesan printing house. Since then, the company has evolved into a provider of editorial and advertising solutions for multimedia news environments. CCI’s main focus is newspaper publishers, and Escenic -- with long domain expertise in the newspaper world -- might fit better in that segment than Vizrt's base of more multimedia-oriented customers.

The culprit here is, understandably, in the following statement issued by the businesses: “Both companies are committed to ensure that current and potential Escenic and Vizrt customers will continue to receive the highest level of service.” This aspiration is great, but as the history shows, not always easily attainable.

Expect a bumpy ride in either direction: if you’re an existing Escenic or CCI customer, or if you are a prospect evaluating Escenic as your potential new CMS.

For now, the new owner promises continued support to current Escenic customers as a standalone system. CCI’s main office is in Denmark. In the US, they are based in Kennesaw, GA, in the outskirts of Atlanta. Now part of larger professional services organization at CCI, we  might see more of Escenic on the North American scene.

What the Adobe security breach can teach you #Adobe #Cloud Tue, 19 Nov 2013 15:40:00 +0000 I dread those emails that go along the lines of, “We've checked a list of millions of compromised accounts and cross referenced it with people who have an XYZ account. We noticed that the email that you used to register for an XYZ account was on that list of exposed accounts.”

The latest case of such unpleasant activity was due to a serious security breach when Adobe was recently hacked. Adobe, as you may remember, has been transitioning most of its products to the cloud: Creative Suite, for example, is now part of the Adobe Creative Cloud.

Adobe Experience Manager WCM and DAM (former CQ5 product line) are also cloud-enabled (through Adobe Marketing Cloud), even if few of their licensees use it that way, yet. The former Omniture analytics platform also uses an Adobe ID as its access mechanism. So the question here really is: Can you trust vendors to keep your information secure? Is the cloud secure? What if your professional IDs for enterprise scenarios get co-mingled with large volumes of vulnerable consumer IDs for more plebian services like Photoshop?  If a software giant like Adobe cannot get its act together, how can you trust a myriad of smaller cloud-based providers that litter the enterprise technology space?

What happened with Adobe is unfortunate, but not shocking. I've lost count of vendors who have gotten hacked in the recent history. Sadly, it’s become a norm of digital life. According to various sources, hackers obtained data for more than 150 million Adobe ID user accounts. Adobe admitted to only 38 million of those.

So, a few words of advice. When working in the cloud, you may need to enforce certain password practices that you apply for on-premise applications, even if your SaaS provider doesn't mandate strong passwords and regular password updates. You'll also want to work to minimize reuse of passwords across applications, and prevent people from using personal logins for professional accounts, and vice-versa. (Special shout-out to Google Apps users there...)

Of course, simply maintaining software on-premise does not guarantee any security panaceas.  In the end though, with cloud applications, your vendor still bears responsibility for adequate levels of security. (Adobe, allegedly, was not “salting” their passwords.) Maybe for hosted Photoshop the stakes are lower, but for DAM or WCM in the cloud, you'll want to perform very careful diligence.

My Eternal Search for a Happy TeamSite Customer #autonomy #cms Mon, 28 Oct 2013 11:58:00 +0000 For the past six years, I've made a habit of saying "TeamSite is a product you leave, not one you join." Nearly every time we talk to one of our subscribers who licenses that platform, the discussion revolves around when to leave, not whether to leave.

As background, TeamSite is the flagship Web CMS product developed by Interwoven, then taken up by Autonomy, and therefore now in the hands of HP. It is part of a larger family of tools including OpenDeploy (for code and content deployment), LiveSite (a quasi-portal for content delivery and website management), a bit of IDOL (for search and delivery repository), and potentially other HP-Autonomy products, like MediaBin for Digital Asset Management.

To see our review of TeamSite, you can download a complimentary version here.

What Is "Happy?"

Perhaps happy TeamSite customers do exist out there, and I'm just not seeing them, or they don't subscribe to our advisory services. So, if you are a TeamSite licensee, and you want to go on record saying that you are pleased with the platform, please chime in using the comments below.

Of course, many Web Content & Experience management (WCM) customers -- regardless of vendor -- are unhappy with their platform. But for almost every other WCM product, we can find at least a handful of customers pleased with their choice. They help inform our WCM vendor evaluation research.

So, let me define "happy" as any three out of the following four statements:

  1. Your marketing/editorial and technical teams are both at least satisfied with the technology
  2. It has made your business more effective
  3. You incurred a reasonable total cost of ownership
  4. You would rather upgrade than switch vendors

Let's leave aside for the moment that for many TeamSite licensees, an "upgrade" is in fact a replacement.

Chime In

Remember, we're looking for happy customers only; no integrators or consultants. And please share your organization's name. The comments are open....look forward to hearing from you!

Can you use WordPress for DAM lite? #wcm #DAM Wed, 23 Oct 2013 11:53:00 +0000 There's more news from WordPress land. This time around, customers are wondering whether WordPress can be used as a lightweight digital asset management (DAM) system, given Automattic’s (the makers of WordPress) acquisition of file-sharing startup CloudUp.

The theme of true DAM vs. DAM lite from non-DAM systems (very often, WCM systems) is not new: we published an advisory paper for subscribers on this topic that goes into all the pros and cons of choosing either approach.

What’s interesting in this particular case with WordPress and CloudUp is that WP’s current Media Library functionality has often been the cause of customer complaints. Unlike many of WordPress’ rivals, the WP Media Library has only rudimentary asset management functionality.

CloudUp is not a true DAM system, but they do offer some functionality that will provide WordPress customers more options (once integrated) for asset manipulation and management, starting with supporting file uploads in multiple formats, with automatic thumbnail creation.

However, CloudUp puts a lot of emphasis on sharing and streaming of user-generated assets (e.g., with clients for work, or with family for fun) through their hosted infrastructure. Here, it comes off as less DAM-y and more Content-Delivery-Network-y. There’s a big difference between the use cases those two technologies address.

In summary, WordPress may someday provide an extended set of asset management facilities via this acquisition, but it is unclear when and if this will happen. CloudUp shouldn’t be considered a DAM system, but does occupy a very niche segment of the marketplace for asset streaming and, therefore, can be an interesting candidate if you’re looking to do just that: simple and light streaming and file sharing.

New Enterprise Mobile Platform evaluations of IBM, Oracle, Kony, Antenna, SAP, Adobe, and others #DigitalWorkplace #mobile Wed, 25 Sep 2013 10:27:00 +0000 Today RSG released a new Enterprise Mobile Platforms Report, which takes a hard look at the technology that supports the creation and delivery of mobile experiences for your customers or employees.

Version 1.0 of this research critically evaluates 21 major vendors, including IBM, Adobe, Antenna, Kony, Motorola, SAP, Appcelerator, Netbiscuits, Oracle, and others.

Key themes from this 205-page report include:

  • Mobile experience management is becoming a primary driver for enterprise investment in employee (B2E) mobility solutions
  • Application security -- not just device security -- has become a critical enterprise concern
  • Enterprises are increasingly in-sourcing business-to-consumer (B2C) mobile development and delivery capabilities
  • Vendors are responding by developing portal-like middleware to support mobile experiences after initial deployment 
  • The gulf between mobile web vs. native apps remains; thus, enterprises often need to support both approaches 
  • No single vendor excels at both B2C and B2E use cases, so large enterprises may need to consider multiple platforms
  • The enterprise mobile platform marketplace remains highly fragmented and immature

If you have pre-ordered a subscription to this stream, simply log in now to access all the evaluations in full or parts.

If you're not an RSG customer, you can download a complimentary excerpt. As always, we welcome your feedback.

And now, BlackBerry - Mais ou` sont les neiges d'antan? #mobile #EntArch Tue, 24 Sep 2013 12:21:00 +0000`-sont-les-neiges-dantan? Where are the snows of yesteryear?” -- a refrain from a 15th century French ballad -- rings true in the mobile phone industry today. Palm, Nokia, Motorola, BlackBerry. All of them industry leaders not too long ago, but now fighting for survival. The mobile industry is sure turning out to be a textbook example of “creative destruction.”

Just the other day, I discussed Nokia’s lost mojo and potential implications for enterprise customers. Now, let’s talk about BlackBerry, another contender for a bronze medal in the mobile operating system race. Just a few years ago, corporate types coveted a BlackBerry and “sent from my BlackBerry” message foooters signaled power and prestige. Now, BlackBerry is on life support and its former name Research in Motion (RIM) is ripe for RIP puns. How did this come to pass?

In a nutshell: Like Nokia, BlackBerry too was slow to detect the importance of smart phones with touch interfaces and the power of apps. Consequently it ceded much ground to Android and iOS.

In the pre-smart phone era, email-on-the-go was the cornerstone and killer app of Enterprise Mobility 1.0 strategies. BlackBerry, with its excellent email, calendar, and of course, instant messenger applications was the leading (and often the only) choice for enterprises.

But innovation and advances in mobile devices (read iOS and Android) changed all that. Though initially intended for consumers, enterprises too embraced them fairly quickly (by switching to these devices as corporate policy or via BYOD).

Now, current Enterprise Mobility strategies are not just about a few apps here and there but delivering holistic B2C and B2E mobile experiences. The expectation now is that mobile experiences have to be useful as well as satisfying (or engaging or fun). BlackBerry focused on just the utility part of it and lost much appeal to consumers. This together with missteps and other gaps it failed to plug, means BlackBerry finds itself as a bit player.

Recent moves like failed attempts to find a buyer for itself or massive layoffs that cut too close to the bone or now, going private are only the denouement in a plot of inexorable decline that has been set in motion much before.

What’s the takeaway for you as a champion of enterprise mobility?

We can only guess what the new private owners intend to do – most likely, divest parts of the business, retain some parts, try to monetize the patents, and eventually sell off to another mobile ecosystem player. Lots of moving parts here.

If your organization currently remains a BlackBerry shop, your course of action will be dependent on the extent of the mobile experiences you’re currently delivering to your consumers and employees. If it is only mail and messaging – wait for some of the air to be cleared – it’s not that the company will be shuttering down immediately.

But we can reasonably expect that R&D investments in product/platform/ecosystem will shrivel even further.  So, if you are delivering richer mobile experiences and apps beyond messaging, then start putting together your migration plans. Our Enterprise Mobile Technology research that includes evaluation of 21 major vendors should prove helpful here. 

Last but not least, security (real or perceived) was one of the selling points of BlackBerry. BlackBerry may go away but the need for security won’t. And frankly, security and compliance for regulated industries are not exactly the strong points of enterprise mobile technology. Vet very carefully when you’re looking for solutions to develop experiences for iOS/Android/Others.

PhoneGap/Cordova Vs Oracle and IBM Mobile Offerings #mobile Thu, 19 Sep 2013 13:29:00 +0000 So-called "hybrid" apps constitute one of the major types of cross-platform mobile apps. Under this approach, you basically create your app using web technologies -- HTML5, CSS, and JavaScript -- and then "wrap" it with a web-to-native wrapper that converts it into a downloadable app.

This approach has many pros and cons that we explore in our forthcoming Enterprise Mobile Platforms evaluation report, due out next week. 

Apache Cordova is a popular hybrid app development environment. It's open source and free, so perhaps as a result, Cordova is hugely popular amongst developers.

Now, many enterprise software vendors use Apache Cordova within their own offerings. In fact, Adobe's PhoneGap is based on Apache Cordova, and Oracle's ADF Mobile, IBM's Worklight, and several others platforms also embed it for hybrid development.

So a key question arises: if you develop your mobile experience using web technologies and use Cordova to wrap it, why license Oracle ADF Mobile, IBM Worklight, Adobe, or one of the other commercial vendors in the first place, instead of using Cordova directly?

Well, the short answer is that these commercial vendors have added additional functionality on top of the basic HTML5-plus-Cordova model for app development.

As an example, lets consider Oracle ADF Mobile. A key advantage -- or drawback, depending on how you look at it -- of employing Oracle ADF Mobile is that you rely principally on Java, giving you access a full-fledged programing environment to reflect sophisticated business logic. This is not something that HTML5- or JavaScript-based environments can match, especially for enterprise integration. Another related advantage is that you use Oracle's JDeveloper environment for developing your apps. As a result, you get access to all the enterprisey features – such as declarative bindings, visual development, and so forth -- of JDeveloper. You also get access to ADF capabilities such as Task Flows, data controls and host of pre-built components. 

Similarly, other vendors also bundle numerous value-added services and features.

Of course, you'll face trade-offs and will often sacrifice some flexibility. Again using Oracle ADF Mobile as an example, you'll find that Oracle ADF Mobile is not stand-alone offering. It is a part of broader Application Development Framework and Fusion Middleware. So while it may offer a good fit if you already use ADF in your organization or use other Oracle platforms, such as their WebCenter Portal or Application Server, it is certainly not suitable as an option purely for a stand-alone mobile application platform.

We explore many more benefits and drawbacks in much greater detail in our evaluation of 21 major Enterprise Mobile Platform vendors.


Drupal forked - is that a big deal in the CMS world? #drupal #wcm Wed, 18 Sep 2013 18:44:00 +0000 When certain males hit midlife crisis, they supposedly buy red convertibles. When certain Drupalers rise against the core, they fork.

One such Drupaler, Nathan Haug ‪(@quicksketch), proclaimed when he announced the fork: “#Backdrop needs to exist to *preserve* the ‪#Drupal community and market.” He seems to want to preserve the “simplicity” of the last good version of Drupal standing. And by “simplicity” here I mean the legacy core that is Symfony-free. Or as Haug describes: “ease of use and ease of learning over architectural flexibility.”

Symfony is an open source web framework making its way into the upcoming v8 version of Drupal. Symfony applies more modern, object-oriented programming principles, yet requires more advanced developer skills. In theory, architectural elegance should make lives easier for designers and developers easier. Some folks clearly disagree.

Backdrop the fork doesn’t have many tines yet, aside from a starter project on GitHub. The project description – “Backdrop is a fully-featured content management system that allows non-technical users to manage a wide-variety of content. It can be used to create blogs, forums, image galleries, social networks, intranets, and more.” – sounds rather ambiguous. Every CMS claims to do what Backdrop is embarking to do. On the surface, it seems like Backdrop is little more than the founders’ desire to stand athwart Drupal history and shout "Stop!"

With the enormous developer following around Drupal today, perhaps it's inevitable that some community members get uneasy about the drastically changing core of their favorite CMS. Change is always tough.

Otherwise, no big deal here, yet – aside from some clearly evident disruption in the Drupal community and one more indication of how difficult and complex this CMS can be. It's also potentially a quite useful warning about how difficult the v8 upgrade may prove to be.

The history of the Web CMS marketplace has seen very few examples of viable forks (Mambo/Joomla! being one exception). Backdrop will have to work really hard to differentiate itself from Drupal to become viable. For now, my advice is: do not hold your breath and do not panic. If Drupal works for you today (and as our CMS Report readers know, it doesn't work for everyone), then keep Drupaling and carry on.

HP/Autonomy Strategy - Still Buy Instead of Build? #autonomy #cms Tue, 03 Sep 2013 11:42:00 +0000 Long-suffering Autonomy / Interwoven product customers have seen some useful dot-releases on various modules since the star-crossed HP acquisition last year.

Though any improvements are welcome, my personal opinion is that these efforts are too little, too late for platforms in desperate need of fundamental refactoring to pay down enormous technical debt -- if not by HP, then by someone else. So, perhaps like you, I follow what's going on at HP for authentic signs of a larger strategy.

And as with any public firm, the most meaningful information gets directed at investors, rather than customers. Witness this aside from an HP executive (amid a discussion of 2014 revenue projections) about how the company is still looking to make "strategic acquisitions" to prop up the firm's struggling Enterprise Group. HP doesn't get specific about this, so we don't know what kind of technology they want to acquire, but it's pretty clear they're looking outside the company for energy.

My reaction is this: when software vendors try acquire their way out of chronic product engineering problems, customers lose. I suspect most Interwoven and Autonomy customers would agree. After all, they saw Interwoven use its post-IPO equity windfall to acquire a plethora of other firms, rather than modernize its flagship TeamSite platform, which at its core remains a circa 1997 file management system. Similarly Autonomy went on an acquisition binge (at a time when Apache Lucene was fast overtaking the Autonomy IDOL search platform), ultimately rolling up the Interwoven roll-up, among others.

As you know, that did not end well at all.

Consider that executives at most public companies typically receive the lion's share of their compensation packages based on near-term stock values. In that light, HP buying more companies is a rational choice if the acquired products can generate better returns than HP's incumbent technology portfolio, the same way it made sense to Autonomy and Interwoven executives.

The problem for enterprise technology customers is that we necessarily have longer-term horizons for our major technology investments than stockholders do for their equity investments. For Autonomy customers, that horizon seems dimmer than ever.

* * *

BTW, what other big vendor in this space seems to want to keep acquiring other firms to meet investor expectations? Here's my take...

Major Updates to our Digital Marketing Technology Evaluations #digitalmarketing #socialmedia Mon, 19 Aug 2013 12:06:00 +0000 The digital marketing technology world moves quickly. To keep up with the changes, we have just released a major update to our Digital Marketing Technology vendor evaluations.

Version 2.0 of this report finds Adobe, IBM, Oracle, and Salesforce cobbling together broad digital marketing capabilities via acquisitions. The research also evaluates key independent players, like Act-On, Marketo, SDL, SilverPop, Sysomos, and more.

We will look at some key themes in future blog posts, but for today, I'll share a bit about our updated methodology.

In this major overhaul to the Digital Marketing Technology evaluation research, we had two goals:

  1. Many of the large vendors have acquired smaller, stand-alone vendors to create “digital marketing suites”. We wanted to examine if the resulting packages are really "suites" and just how well are these big players adapting to rapidly evolving customer needs?
  2. To significantly update and revise the evaluation criteria, based on current trends in digital marketing technology marketplace -- social marketing in particular.

For point (1), you will need to review the in-depth critiques for each of those vendors. For now though, here is an overview of the changed structure.

New Categorization

We have always believed that while Marketing Automation and Social Media Analytics are separate technologies, they are part of the broader digital marketing marketplace. There’s a lot of overlap in these two areas and more importantly, the buyer of these two technologies tends to be the same: your CMO, or Marketing Department. More recently, some large vendors have acquired smaller companies in both these areas and have started offering platforms that have functionality for both. Consequently, we now have updated categories of vendors we cover. These are:

  • Digital Marketing Platforms: These are very different vendors that share a vision of integrated digital marketing, but come to this space from four very different directions
  • Marketing Automation Suites: These are vendors focused on Marketing Automation
  • Social Media Analytics (SMA) Platforms: These vendors focus on social media monitoring, intelligence and marketing

New Ratings

To simplify our summaries further and to bring consistency across different vendors, we evaluate all of them on the following Functional Services:

Marketing Automation Services 

  • Lead Management & Nurturing
  • Campaign Management
  • Landing Pages 

Social Media Analysis Services

  • Data Collection & Processing
  • Analysis & Presentation

Social Media Marketing Services

  • Social Media Site Management
  • Social Campaigns
  • Influencer Cultivation
  • Social Customer Support

As always, we review them in detail as well as provide summary ratings using Harvey Balls. For example, the following table shows ratings for one of the vendors:

So these were the key changes. We welcome your feedback. You can download a complimentary research excerpt or if you are a subscriber, you can directly download your updated copy.

Do Documentum, IBM WebSphere, and SocialText really compete? Which path should you take? #e20 #EnSW Tue, 13 Aug 2013 07:47:00 +0000 Nearly all the tools in the marketplaces we cover claim to excel in "collaboration" services. Who could possibly not?

To some extent the vendors are justified, since collaboration has many flavors. For example, enterprises looking to create more collaborative digital environments often ask us if they should use their:



Most portal tools now offer many base collaboration features such as Polls, Surveys, Tagging, Blogs, Wikis, Forums, and so forth. Not all of these are new, but together they offer the potential for more dynamic information sharing in the workplace. Additionally some portals such as Oracle WebCenter have the concept of “presence,” enabling employees to see if their colleagues are online — and if so, the capability to start an instant messaging chat. This can be a powerful way to collaborate, particularly if your team members are spread out globally.

Many enterprises, on the other hand, are discovering that collaboration can become an important attribute in effective document management, particularly for more knowledge-intensive, ad-hoc processes.  DM platforms still provide audit or other compliance requirements that are not met by the portals collaboration tools. Consequently, the focus of document management collaboration offerings is on secure, shared document authoring and review, usually within a specified workspace or portal.

And your choices are not limited to Portal or Document Management software. You could, for example, use Cloud File Sharing and Sync tools such as Box, Huddle or Workshare.

Finally, you have a number of specialized social and collaboration tools such as Jive Software, SocialText, Telligent,Drupal and many others.

Remember that "collaboration" will take on different meanings in different organizations. For some, it is peer-to-peer, using email and IM; for others it’s WebEx-style collaboration; for some it’s document-intensive collaboration; and for others, business value comes more from social networking. Think about what collaboration means in your context and select the right type of toolset for your requirement. Let us know if we can help.