Real Story Group Recent Real Story Group Blog Entries Copyright (c) 2015, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 04/16/2015 00:00:00 60 Say hello to Machine Learning, the newest cloud marketplace #Cloud #analytics Thu, 16 Apr 2015 16:08:00 +0000 Marc Andreessen famously said that “software is eating the world.” One of the enablers of that march is "Machine Learning," and so Amazon's new “Machine Learning in the Cloud” services are worth noting. 

Here is a quick primer on Machine Learning in the cloud, a snapshot of the leading vendors in this very nascent space (where Big Data, Analytics and Cloud converge), and some enterprise implications.

Figure 1: Paul the Octopus, a pioneer in the field of predictions as a service, passed away in 2010 but his work serves as inspiration for today's "Machine Learning Services in the Cloud: Image Source:

What is Machine Learning?

Let’s face it – Machine Learning is a bit mystifying even for many of us in the software industry. Discussions about Machine Learning usually bring forth complex-sounding terms like Support Vector Machines, Naïve Bayesian Classifiers, and Hidden Markov Models – all which can be overwhelming if you do not have a background in computer science and math.

Well, you don’t need to know all such nitty-gritty of what goes on under the hood to appreciate Machine Learning use cases or explore applications in your industry/domain and understand what major players in the space are up to.

For our purposes, Machine Learning is simply a branch of computer science that uses some advanced mathematics and statistics to build algorithms that can make predictions by analyzing existing data to unearth patterns. The algorithms get better (i.e., they learn) as they crunch more and more data and receive feedback on the accuracy of their predictions.

Simply put, Machine Learning is a key piece of "predictive analytics" and so you could think of ML in the cloud is a "Predictions Service" or "Predictions as a Service."

What are the use cases?

Predictions can range a wide spectrum - from

  • The simpler use cases (e.g., predicting whether an email is genuine or spam, or an online comment is spam or not) to 
  • The more complex like fraud detection (e.g., is a credit card transaction genuine or spurious?) and
  • Shopping recommendations (which catalog items to promote, whether to offer a discount or not)

The applications are virtually limitless.

When it comes to the content management space, automated real-time translation of content, content personalization, and recommendations come to mind. We will explore the content management use cases more fully in a later briefing for our research subscribers, but for now, such applications are not as mature compared to the commerce use cases and hence may offer a opportunity to differentiate your business.

Who are the key players?

The Amazon announcement has generated a lot of interest not only because they are one of the leading cloud infrastructure vendors but also because they are the text-book case for employing sophisticated machine learning algorithms. Not surprisingly, Amazon’s pitch is that now you can also leverage similar algorithms. Amazon offers a simple pricing structure – linked to the amount of data stored, time it takes to crunch your data, and the number of predictions (batch-mode or real-time) spewed out.


You don’t normally think of Microsoft as an early mover or a pioneer these days but Azure Machine Learning services have been available since last year. While the just-launched Amazon services currently offer a single predictive model / algorithm, Microsoft provides a few more additional models. You can also find a (currently sparse) marketplace to develop third party prediction services as well.


Google has been offering a Predictions API for a few years now but it does not appear to have actively/aggressively sold this service to enterprises. This appears to be changing with the launch of the Big Query (for analysis of Big Data) and Nearline Storage for data storage. Google also plans to launch a service called Data Flow (to get the data ready for analysis) in the near future.


IBM’s servers have been defeating world chess champions (Deep Blue) and trouncing jeopardy winners (Watson). Watson platform services are available in the cloud as well. True to form, Big Blue is focusing on the higher-end of the market for such services, compared to the more do-it-yourself approach of an Amazon or a Google.

Note that in addition to the big vendors, there are several start-ups and vertical specialists as well.

Enterprise Implications

So, early days.  For you the customer, I leave two interim thoughts:

  1. Traditionally, companies employed teams of data analysts and statisticians and bought (expensive) tools like SAS and SPSS to build predictive models. In the long-term, prediction services in the cloud model can upend that approach.
  2. Nevertheless, while Machine Learning itself is not new, Machine Learning services in the cloud are relatively new and not very mature yet. But they offer you an interesting avenue to experiment. You can try out a few pilots and test your own readiness to integrate them into your use cases, technology architectures, and business processes.


Is Adobe AEM Sites a CMS of Last Resort? #Adobe #wcm Tue, 14 Apr 2015 13:00:00 +0000 In almost any business technology marketplace, for any given era, there's a vendor whose solution emerges as the most complex and therefore typically the most expensive of the lot. In the Web Content & Experience Management (WCM) marketplace, that position is held today by Adobe with its "Adobe Experience Management Sites" (AEM Sites) offering.

Complexity is not a good or bad thing. In software, complexity augurs more opportunities and more work, and it falls to you to balance that equation. Nevertheless, a question arises for any prospective AEM customer: do we need this level of complexity?

Limitless Ambitions, Limited Resources

Digital marketers today face a dilemma. On the one hand, you have nearly limitless ambitions for richer customer engagement. On the other hand, you face internal resource shortages, and need to take more agile (read: simpler) approaches to digital initiatives to adapt quickly as you learn.

A platform like AEM seems well suited to richer engagement, since -- with enough funds and experienced developers -- you can get it to do nearly anything you want. Unfortunately, AEM is not well suited to agile approaches. It's simply too developer-intensive and requires an exceptionally sophisticated and well-resourced digital team on the business side to exploit.

Never Default, Always Test

So should you always avoid choosing Adobe for WCM? No, AEM has its place.

But in an era where you face greater risks of overbuying than underbuying WCM technology, you should only select AEM as a last resort. In other words, you should make sure that you perform hands-on tests of simpler alternatives. Then, only after having concluded empirically that those alternatives cannot flex to your needs should you zero in on AEM.

For deeper evaluations of AEM and its 35+ competitors, consult our Web CMS Report.

Xamarin - a knight in shining armor for Microsoft's mobile malady? #mobile #microsoft Mon, 13 Apr 2015 10:26:00 +0000 Microsoft turns forty this April and is staring at a serious mid-life crisis. Of course, Microsoft is still the third-most valuable company on the planet, with a $90 billion cash pile.  But there's no denying some serious clouds hang over Redmond's future. Is it on a slow but steady path to irrelevance in a "consumer-first, cloud-first, mobile-first" world?

A couple of charts illustrate how the ground is shifting for Microsoft.

Figure 1: Microsoft marketshare of desktop operating systems. Data Source: Net Applications

As you can see Microsoft still lords over the desktops with a 91% marketshare. In the good old days when a personal computing device was synonymous with a destkop (or a laptop), that was awe-inspiring and Microsoft was more or less the software sheriff of the universe. 

Cut to today and look at smartphones and tablets. Here is the platform marketshare picture. 

Figure 2: Platform marketshare for all personal computing devices currently in use. Data Sources: Benedict Evans and RSG estimates

You can see that Microsoft has already lost its crown. What should be even more worrisome for Microsoft is this: PC sales are falling but smartphone sales are sky-rocketing, and Microsoft is shipping less than 3% of those smartphones. Certainly, the future isn't what it used to be. 

So, everyone (including Redmond) knows that Microsoft has a mobile problem the size of Mars. The new leadership in Redmond has been more proactive than before but the big question is whether their initiatives on the mobile front will amount to little more than a rearguard action. 

As we all know, people don't typically purchase a mobile phone for only the hardware. We buy into the apps and ecosystem around the mobile platform. But that's a chicken-and-egg situtation for Microsoft and its Windows Phone platform. 

Figure 3: Primary platform for professional mobile developers. Data Source: Vision Mobile

Despite some serious courting by Microsoft, less than 10% of app developers target Windows Phone as the primary platform. Understandably so, for they make next to nothing from developing for the Windows Phone platform. 

Figure 4:  Median monthly revenue per app by mobile platform. Data Source: Vision Mobile

A classic catch-22 here: You don't want to buy a Microsoft mobile device because of the limited availability of apps; but because there aren't a significant number of users to target, developers won't build for the Windows platform. 

The risk to Microsoft is that even the currently loyal developers (however few they may be) may abandon ship. If that happens Microsoft won't at all be able to revive it's fledgling franchise in the mobile space. 

Enter Xamarin

Xamarin, a vendor we review in our Enterprise Mobile Technology evaluations stream, is a cross-platform mobile development tool. It lets you develop mobile apps not just for the Windows platform but also for Android and iOS -- albeit using C# and .NET, the traditional Microsoft technologies.

In other words, the legions of traditional Microsoft developers can potentially become mobile-app developers, without having to learn new programming languages. This could help alleviate the "app-gap" (i.e., the lack of apps and an anemic appstore) to some extent extent. 

Microsoft realizes this. Microsoft and Xamarin are partners and work closely together. But Xamarin doesn't want to commit exclusively to Microsoft and has been working with other platform players as well. It is oft-speculated that Microsoft will acquire Xamarin. Perhaps. Such a solemnization might be prove more fruitful (to Microsoft) than the big-ticket acquisition of Nokia, which really has not moved the needle much for Redmond.

We'll keep track of how Microsoft's mobile story unfolds. In the future, acquiring Xamarin might prove to be a good move for them. However, as an enterprise buyer, you need to evaluate Xamarin on what it brings to the table -- its strengths and weaknesses and its relative match against your enterprise mobile strategy and developer expertise.

Our Enterprise Mobile Technology report delivers the goods on that.

If your firm does not yet subscribe, you can get a sample evaluation here.


Clouds vs Best-of-Breed in Digital Marketing #socialmedia #socbiz Fri, 10 Apr 2015 10:16:00 +0000 Do you remember the early years of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) -- when it was promoted as an all-encompassing technology consisting of Web Content Management (WCM), Digital Asset Management (DAM), Knowledge Management, Document Management, Collaboration and many other services?  Well, in the digital marketing space, those years are returning under a new guise.

All In One?

In the ECM era, we were all pitched "suites," mostly from large infrastructure vendors, that claimed to do everything you needed for information management. Major analyst firms often recommended you to establish a "strategic relationship" with (a.k.a., standardize on) one suite vendor so you could fulfill all your needs with a single product family.

It Was a Myth

Those "suites" typically cobbled together multiple products to give an impression of one single platform, whereas in reality, there were totally different solutions with different architectures, repositories, user management, administration, and so forth.

Also, the requirements for different use cases (e.g., web vs. document management) very different turned out to be quite different. Expecting one product to do everything could at best give you a compromised experience. Which is why, in the end several ECM vendors (e.g., Oracle, Alfresco, and Documentum) ended up removing WCM capabilities from their main document management platforms.

History Is Repeating Itself with Digital Marketing

We see the same thing -- the same hype -- getting repeated in the Digital Marketing marketplace. Many vendors are pushing Digital Marketing "Clouds" -- the new moniker for suites.  And the same cast of industry analyst shills are lining up to promote them on vendors' behalf.

As with ECM Suites, most Digital Marketing "clouds" are actually a collection of independent products, brought together via acquisition from multiple different companies. Vendors of course disagree and will point to how you can manage disparate functionality from a single dashboard. In reality, once you get into the applications themselves you'll find radically different architectures, disparate user and content repositories, different admin modules, separate security implementations, divergent licensing models, and diverse user interfaces.

Our Advice

Digital Marketing is a very rapidly evolving marketplace. Larger enterprises in particular often need fairly specialized services and not generic dashboards. For example, you may well require social media marketing features from one product but for social media monitoring, you might require a completely different offering.

While some Marketing Clouds have acquired companies whose products were well regarded in their respective arena (e.g., Radian6 for Social Media Monitoring), you should evaluate each product individually on its merit and not because it's part of a suite.

In other words: it's too premature to align with a single über-vendor here.

Fortunately, you have many options. You can always download a sample of RSG's hard-hitting vendor evaluations, or ask us for advice.

Join Us at Henry Stewart DAM Events in NYC and London #DAM #brand Wed, 08 Apr 2015 15:07:00 +0000 Coming up soon in both New York City (May 6 - 8) and London (June 24-26) are the Henry Stewart Events on Digital & Media Asset Management, the premier conferences for the DAM industry.

To kick off the conference is a full day of tutorials, where I'll be teaching two half-day educational seminars on The Fundamentals of DAM, and a second on Marketing Automation, Campaign & Lead Management.

Following will be a two-day conference with hundreds of fellow DAM practicitioners in attendance. My plenary session this year will focus on the topics of scalable architectures, innovation and risk-taking, and building strong technology foundations. As the conference continues, my colleagues Jarrod Gingras and Mark Davey will be talking about technology selection as well as where DAM fits into the world of Web 3.0. Get ready to talk omni-channel!

You can use the code RSG100 to get a discount on registration.  If you're a subscriber, please let us know if you'll be there, and we'll be happy to welcome you to the customer appreciation dinner we'll be hosting during the conference.

Looking forward to seeing you there!

Web CMS Customer Survey Findings Webinar on April 16th #cms #wcm Fri, 03 Apr 2015 15:41:00 +0000 In the beginning of 2015 RSG conducted a survey targeted towards the Web Content Management professionals, including those who subscribe to our WCM evaluation research. You can now benefit from the feedback of 300+ professionals (non-vendors) who deal with everyday Web CMS-related challenges.

On April 16th RSG Founder Tony Byrne will share survey results in a fast-paced, 30-minute webinar:

Webinar: Web CMS Customer Survey Findings

Date: Thursday, April 16, 2015
Time: 9:00 am PT / 12:00 PM EST / 16:00 UTC/GMT

Register Here

About the topic:
RSG conducted an online survey to obtain practitioners' perspectives on key Web Content and Experience Management software-related themes, including common use cases, tools and vendors, implementation patterns, and challenges.

We'll discuss key survey findings in the following categories:

  • Satisfaction with WCM technology
  • Extent of current and future transitions to the cloud
  • Major technical organizational challenges

We look forward to seeing you there...

Register Here

(P.S. RSG customers should contact us for details on a subscribers-only briefing.)

The CMS Game of Thrones #digitalmarketing #wcm Wed, 01 Apr 2015 17:49:00 +0000 The Web Content & Experience Management (WCM) marketplace is complicated and fragmented, and we know that some of you would rather attend a Red Wedding than sit through a series of vendor demos.

In an effort to simplify still further, I offer you a Game of Thrones guide to WCM vendors.

Why did we assign a vendor to a particular character? You can find the answers in our research report...

Or if you want to sample our assessment of Joffrey Baratheon -- er, HP-Autonomy TeamSite -- that's the complimentary evaluation that you can download here.

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

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

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

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

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


Does Unlimited Storage from Amazon Challenge Box (and Everyone Else)? #Cloud #ecm Mon, 30 Mar 2015 10:36:00 +0000 To date, cloud file-sharing and synch vendors have priced their services in part on the amount of storage you procure, but this model has been under increasing stress. In a previous blog, I’d mentioned:

I suspect most vendors will gradually lower their prices to remain competitive, and I wouldn't be surprised to see unlimited (or very high) storage quotas becoming a norm in the near future.

Now Amazon has unveiled unlimited storage plans starting at $11.99 per year for photos and $59.99 for everything else. I suspect others, especially the bigger vendors, will follow soon. Does this mean smaller vendors such as Box and others have a reason to worry?

Should smaller vendors be worried?

Well, it depends.

For small vendors, it is difficult to match these bigger infrastructure players, and they can’t probably start offering unlimited storage as easily. They will of course work to remain competitive, and seek to find more innovative ways to differentiate.

And they are indeed building new features. Box, for example, is trying to evolve into a broader collaboration offering. Dropbox has also added a few collaboration features such as ability for users to add comments and security features such as ability to expire file links.

What should you the customer do?

Remember that storage is becoming a commodity. Going forward, focus more intently what you can do with technology. As an example, while Amazon offers unlimited storage, syncing files across desktop devices remains a weak point for that platform. So evaluate vendors carefully with respect to actual business services, while negotiating unlimited (or very high) storage quotas.

You have many options today, including more enterprise-focused vendors, many of whom we evaluate in our ECM and Cloud File Sharing evaluations.

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


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

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


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


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


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

Liferay Social Office

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

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

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

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

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

For example:

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

[Webinar] DAM Customer Survey Findings #DAM #MediaAssetManagement Thu, 26 Mar 2015 11:44:00 +0000[Webinar]-DAM-Customer-Survey-Findings? RSG conducted an online survey in late 2014 to obtain practitioner perspective on key digital & media asset management software themes such as common use cases, tools, vendors, implementation issues, and overall challenges. The final survey results included a cross-section of organizations drawn from a variety of geographies and industries.

Join me in this webinar next Thursday, where I'll discuss key survey findings, including:

• Satisfaction with the technology
• The extent of current and future transitions to the cloud
• Departments that are leading digital asset management projects
• Key organizational challenges
• The extent of DAM integrations with other enterprise systems

Webinar Details

Registration: DAM Customer Survey Findings

Date: Thursday, April 2, 2015

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

I look forward to seeing you there…


(P.S. If you are an RSG research subscriber, you will also receive an invitation for a detailed briefing.)

Is there a Swiss Army Knife for Enterprise Collaboration? #socbiz #DigitalWorkplace Mon, 23 Mar 2015 16:19:00 +0000 RSG's Enterprise Collaboration and Social Software survey (get summary here) revealed that SharePoint is not a swiss army knife for enterprise collaboration -- i.e., a single tool that can serve multiple use cases. To be sure, it probably never was.

Still, I find it interesting that many vendors (even those lacking the breadth of functionality typically found in a larger platform like SharePoint) will aggressively promote their solutions as do-it-all-systems that match all the diverse use cases that many organizations have.

The rubber-meets-the-road reality is quite different.

Horses for Courses

Using the data from our industry survey, we crunched the numbers for organizations having more than 1000 employees and found that they are employing multiple social-collaboration software products -- on average, 2.6 in an organization. (For the statistically inclined, the 95% confidence interval is 2.3 to 3.)

This leads to the obvious question: why are organizations deploying three collaboration software products? Firstly, vendors simply can't do it all. The diversity and complexity of collaboration use cases (which has only increased with cloud and mobile technologies) is such that vendors can only support adequately a sub-set of the use cases. 

Figure 1:  You're in for a surprise if you think a social-collaboration software product is like a swiss army knife that holds all the tools you need.  Image: Swistik Knife, installation art by Biju Joze at Kochi-Muziris Biennale.

Secondly, despite vendor claims / case studies of enterprise-wide deployments, many implementations remain at the departmental level and different departments could have procured different tools.

What's the Implication for Technology Buyers ?

Technical functionality and features are only parts of the puzzle. You are most likely going to rely on multiple products for meeting your enterprise collaboration requirements. So, don't ignore the integration capabilities of the products you are evaluating. Carefully look under the hood to understand how well they can play with the other systems in your technology stack.

Our in-depth product evaluations can be very handy here.

Webinar: Is Your ECM/DAM System Cloud Ready? #Cloud #trends Tue, 17 Mar 2015 21:29:00 +0000 No ECM or DAM conversation is complete without a heated discussion about cloud services.

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

Join me in this webinar (in partnership with DOCUMENT Strategy Media) for a review of key aspects that you need to consider while evaluating ECM or DAM in the cloud.

We will also examine various cloud deployment models, analyze variations of what vendors call a "hybrid cloud” and also look at a few more considerations that are relevant while considering Cloud-based models for ECM and DAM technologies.

Webinar Details

Registration: Webinar: Is your ECM / DAM Cloud-Ready

Date: Wednesday, March 18, 2015

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

Hope to see you there...

March Madness 2015: Digital Workplace and Marketing Technology Edition #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Tue, 17 Mar 2015 13:23:00 +0000 As technology advisors, every day can feel like Selection Sunday when working with our subscribers.  For most enterprises, selecting technology can be like picking a winner of the NCAA Basketball Tournament:

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

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

Fill in Your Bracket

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


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


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

Some Disclaimers

There's no such thing as a "best" software vendor. Thus, these depictions of the Digital Workplace and Digital Marketing technology landscapes are not indicative of any seedings; rather it is a simple grouping of some of the more significant content technology vendors that we cover. The vendors chosen were done so randomly since we actually cover more than 250 products from 172 vendors (you can see the full list here.) 

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

Esko acquires MediaBeacon #DAM #branding Tue, 17 Mar 2015 11:54:00 +0000 News broke yesterday that artwork and packaging management company, Esko, will acquire DAM vendor MediaBeacon. The terms of the deal were not disclosed.

An Intriguing Acquisition

This is the most intriguing acquisition in the DAM industry in several years, which has been otherwise sleepy since Shutterstock’s acquisition of WebDAM (merely a blip) and NorthPlains’ acquisition Xinet and Vyre several years ago.

Unlike the North Plains acquisitions, however, Esko’s acquiring MediaBeacon represents little to no technological functional overlap: the core technologies of artwork and packaging management software are very different from that of DAM software. In this case, a true case of two specialized product lines coming together, the whole has the potential to be greater than the sum of its parts. But it will require some fancy calculus, not just simple arithmetic.

MediaBeacon Past and Future

Under company founder Jason Bright, MediaBeacon has been something of an industry darling for the last decade, pioneering many aspects of DAM software that are now commonplace, such as embedded metadata, XMP support, and widget-based, HTML5, role-driven interfaces. Where MediaBeacon has always faltered was in meeting the services demand of the rapid adoption of the product (consult our DAM evaluation report for more details).

MediaBeacon’s new Managing Director, Brett Robertson (coming from Esko’s parent company, Danaher), will now assume operations of MediaBeacon, so Bright can focus on his original role as CTO. Robertson will have his work cut out for him: MediaBeacon’s adoption has been broad over the past five years in particular, and with the inevitable cross-selling of the DAM into Esko’s global network of artwork and packaging customers, the demand will no doubt increase.

Interpreting the Acquisition

We'll have more to say about this in our DAM research stream, but for now, a few observations about the acquisition:

— As many of our large CPG research subscribers will confirm, there’s an increasing demand to integrate packaging and artwork management tools with DAM technology, for a clear, end-to-end workflow from brand management and digital marketing to the package on the shelf at the point of sale. Esko’s main competitor, Schawk!, has little to show as far as DAM partnerships, let alone tangible integration use cases, so this will affect the competition at the top end of that market, as well.

 — Jason Bright claims to already have a roadmap that fits MediaBeacon’s technology neatly into the Esko stack. Note that with every acquisition, real integration take time, though MediaBeacon has been known to be very aggressive here. There’s also good technological compatibility among the technologies: Java and JSP are the foundation of both.

— MediaBeacon will still be sold separately, not just as a component of the Esko suite.

— There’s a large potential ecosystem of channel partners here, along with existing firms like Cognizant and IBM, Esko’s integrators will also get trained up to deliver MediaBeacon services, with the goal of accelerating adoption of both products.  But you should be cautious here: an Esko partner doth not a MediaBeacon specialist make.

Who Really Benefits

As I see it, there’s a bigger potential upside here for Esko customers than MediaBeacon licensees. Companies that manage printing and packaging can reap huge benefits from the addition of a DAM. The opposite is not the case for many of MediaBeacon’s customers, many of whom do not create packaging of any kind. They may find that MediaBeacon’s future enhancements are very focused on CPG use cases, and a little less on industries like media, entertainment, and others.

We've conducted extensive research about how other acquisitions in DAM have changed both the acquired and the acquiring companies, and in particular, how they affect you, the buyer or implementer. It's all in the most current version of our research: for more details, look here.

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.

Using ECM platforms for Digital Asset Management #DAM #ecm Fri, 06 Mar 2015 13:21:00 +0000 Many of our customers -- especially those who have invested in Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platforms from vendors such as EMC and Oracle -- ask us if they can use DAM offerings from these vendors for their Digital Asset Management initiatives. As always, the answer is: It depends.

In general, there are three types of DAM systems within an ECM suite:

  1. Where you use the general-purpose file management capabilities for your digital assets.  SharePoint and Alfresco work this way.
  2. Where the vendor has layered DAM services on top of their ECM repository.  EMC and Oracle do this.
  3. Where the ECM vendor has a completely separate DAM tool with its own distinct repository and workflow subsystem (essentially not using the underlying ECM platform).  OpenText and HP do this.

When should you use ECM-specific DAM services?

There are many advantages of using a general-purpose ECM platforms in categories one and two above. Some of these are good underlying services that an ECM repository provides, such as:

  • Metadata handling, taxonomy and related capabilities
  • Security infrastructure
  • Ability to create more complex business processes and workflows
  • Relatively more scalable in terms of handling large number of objects as well as in terms of deployment options

Besides these, an important advantage you get is the ability to use DAM in conjunction with other capabilities. This is handy, for example, when you want to manage digital assets along with documents or want to surface digital assets on same vendor’s Portal or WCM tool.

When should you look beyond ECM platforms?

In spite of what ECM vendors might say, managing audio and video assets is not same as managing documents. There are challenges related to file sizes, the nature of the files, and even use cases. So, If you are not already invested in an ECM tool, you will want to look at a broader marketplace, especially if you have some of the following requirements:

  • You want a stand-alone DAM offering
  • Your DAM solution need to integrate with a wider list of enterprise systems
  • You don’t want to just manage images but also want to manage audio and video assets
  • You need sophisticated DAM capabilities for these assets. These include capabilities for media processing, DAM and Media Asset Management-specific collaboration and workflows, and more advanced encoding and transcoding capabilities.

Need more details?

In a forthcoming advisory paper, we will explain these and other issues in more details. Plus in our  Digital and Media Asset Management report, we're expanding our reviews of ECM vendors’ DAM offerings.

Meanwhile, you can download a sample here or let us know if we can help.

2015 Vendor Map - The Big Picture #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Thu, 05 Mar 2015 10:59:00 +0000 Earlier this week, we released the latest version of our Digital Workplace & Marketing Technology Vendor Map.

H1 2015 RSG Subway Map (click to enlarge)

The Big Picture

Many themes persist in this latest version (and I'll get to those below), but in the meantime, I'll answer what an RSG subscriber asked me when she first saw this latest version: "What's the big picture?"

There is no single Digital Workplace or Digital Marketing platform.
You simply cannot purchase a single product -- or even a single suite -- that will give you everything you need. That means that a workplace or marketing leader has to be conversant in several technologies, and your enterprise needs a strategy around how the different pieces will fit together.

Some technologies -- like portals, mobile and WCM -- apply to both digital workplace and customer engagement architectures.
But the way you'd use them can differ dramatically on whether the key stakeholder is an employee or customer/partner. And that's why most enterprises employ different solutions for internal- vs. outward-facing use cases.

What Is Old Is Still New

Some older trends persist...

These are highly fragmented marketplaces.
Sure, some vendors get "hot" for a year or two, but in all these marketplace except perhaps enterprise portals, no vendor can claim more than 5% marketshare overall. You have a lot of choices -- many of them good choices -- but you want the best-fitting choice, and our evaluation research will help you sort that out.

Most innovation happens at the periphery than the center.
Microsoft has largely abandoned digital marketing use cases, while IBM, Oracle, and Adobe have tended to buy innovation, rather than grow it themselves.

Get a high-rez, printable version of the map.


Is Your Enterprise Portal Ready for the Mobile World? #mobile #portals Wed, 04 Mar 2015 14:00:00 +0000 Of course, all portal vendors would answer "Yes" to that question. Many will point you to the fact that you can write a responsive Portal template that can show Portal content on mobile devices. But that’s really very basic.

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

Support for Mobile Web

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

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

Support for Mobile Apps

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

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

Portal as Mobile Middleware

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

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

If your organization doesn't yet subscribe to our research, you can download a complimentary sample to check it out.

Why HR Should Care About the Digital Workplace #DigitalWorkplace #intranet Sun, 01 Mar 2015 12:55:00 +0000 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...

Your Next Step

If your organization doesn't yet subscribe to our social-collaboration vendor evaluation research, you can download a complimentary sample to check it out.

Customer Survey Findings - Digital and Media Asset Management Software #trends #DAM Fri, 27 Feb 2015 11:45:00 +0000 RSG conducted an online survey in late 2014 to gain practitioner perspective on key digital & media asset management software themes such as common use cases, tools, vendors, implementation issues, and overall challenges. 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 digital and media asset management technology remains low-to-middling overall
  • Implementations of traditional DAM use cases remain more mature than rich-media, multi-channel, or multilingual use cases
  • On-premise deployment models presently dominate, but cloud-based architectures predominate future plans

Survey results indicate that enterprises are hampered by an overall lack of execution capacity for their DAM initiatives and are also unable to fully leverage purchased DAM technology. Savvy customers should perform careful technology due diligence and plan comprehensive strategies for success.

RSG Digital and Media Asset Management 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

Sneak Peek into Web Content Management Customer Survey #wcxm #trends Wed, 25 Feb 2015 12:57:00 +0000 RSG is currently conducting a customer survey on Web Content & Experience Management Technology usage. You can still participate, but only if you complete it this week (closes March 1st).

More than 250 of your peers have already taken the survey and here is a sneak peek of findings based on the initial set of responses. 

WCM is a multi-disciplinary endeavor

The job roles of the respondents are quite diverse - executives to individual contributors and subject matter experts and helps provide a holistic perspective. It also attests to the fact that WCM is a multi-disciplinary endeavor at the intersections of marketing, IT, Communications, and Design. 

Figure 1: Job Roles of Respondents. (Click image to enlarge)

Developer Availability and Systems Integration are the top technical challenges

More than 40% of the organizations consider the availability and affordability of developers and integrating WCM with other systems as prohibitive or difficult problems.

Figure 2: WCM Technical Challenges. (Click image to enlarge)

Insufficient resources and lack of content strategy are top non-technical challenges

Note that while only two technical challenges rated 40% or more, five non-technical challenges receive ~40% or greater scores. Insufficient development resources and staffing are linked to the availability of developers mentioned. Lack of a defined strategy in general and lack of a content strategy in particular are also challenging.

Figure 3: WCM Non-Technical Challenges. (Click image to enlarge)

How to get the final results yourself

This is just a small sliver of the findings you can expect from the study, and doubtless the data will change when all the entries get tallied. We're really looking forward to digging into the details so you can benchmark your implementation against your peers.

If you have not yet completed the survey, you can still participate (this week only!) and receive a summary of the final findings. Here is the link to the survey.

Enterprise Collaboration and Software Vendors - Net Promoter Scores and More #DigitalWorkplace #RSGwebinar Tue, 24 Feb 2015 09:05:00 +0000 Many of you would be familiar with Net Promoter Score, a management tool to measure customer loyalty or more specifically, a measure of how likely you are to recommend a product or service that you use to friends and colleagues. 

RSG's Enterprise Collaboration and Social Sofware (ECSS) Industry Survey 2014 (download summary report here)  collected rich data on customer satisfaction about the products they use. We are using this data to derive Net Promoter Scores for key products that we evaluate in our ECSS market research stream

Essentially, customers are divided into three categories:

  • Promoters - who are very happy with the product and will recommend it to others
  • Detractors - who are very dissatisfied and dissuade others from using a product
  • Passives - who are neutral about their experience and neither promote nor demote

The NPS score can range from -100 (all customers hate the product)  to +100 (all customers love the product). Here is a preview of the Net Promoter Scores of a few enterprise collaboration software products (for more detailed analysis, consult our research).

Figure 1:  Net Promoter Score for Atlassian, Drupal, Google Apps and IBM Connections based on RSG's 2014 Customer Survey. (Click image to enlarge).

In tomorrow's webinar ( Feb 25, 12:00 TO 12:30 EST), I'll be discussing  key market trends as well as the Net Promoter Scores for 10 collaboration and social software products. Here is the registration link for the webinar - I hope you will join me there.