Real Story Group Recent Real Story Group Blog Entries Copyright (c) 2014, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 12/18/2014 00:00:00 60 Updated Marketing Technology Evaluations - Adobe, Marketo, Crimson Hexagon, and more #digitalmarketing #socialmediamonitoring Thu, 18 Dec 2014 13:02:00 +0000 Pythons and Boa constrictors are quick to pounce on their prey but after that, digesting them takes a very long time. Similarly, marketing vendors are quick to announce acquisitions but actual integration typically takes years, not months.

Source: The Daily Mail

That's just one of the findings from the latest version of RSG's Marketing Automation and Social Technology report, which contains updated evaluations for: 

  • Adobe Marketing Cloud
  • Marketo Engagement Marketing Platform
  • Attensity
  • SDL SM2
  • Visible Technologies

Consult the report for the detailed evaluations, but here is a sneak peek of what you will find:

Adobe can provide a wide range of capabilities that span both online and offline marketing. But the data-driven marketing approach advocated by Adobe requires more investment and resources across the entire organization than just those found in a typical marketing department.

Marketo is in the throes of an aggressive re-positioning exercise of turning its marketing suite into a marketing platform. The customer event is branded grandly "Marketing Nation," its partnership program is "LaunchPoint," and has settled on "Engagement Marketing Platform" for the product, after trying a few other labels. If you ignore the hype, Marketo provides a decent toolset for some specific marketing requirements.

SDL acquired social monitoring tool SM2 and instead of continuing to sell it as a standalone tool, is trying re-architect and package it for a broader customer intelligence solution.

Attensity, Crimson Hexagon, and Visible Technologies come at social media analytics and monitoring from different vantage points and each has its strengths and weaknesses. Look for separate posts on these in the next few days.

Subscribers can download the latest full report or individual chapters right away.

Others can obtain a complimentary sample chapter 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?

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.

Analyzing the Analysts - Assessing RSG's 2014 Predictions #cio #EnSW Fri, 12 Dec 2014 08:40:00 +0000 Every year, we make technology predictions about the various digital workplace and digital marketing technology marketplaces that we cover.  Earlier this week, my colleague Jarrod published our 2015 predictions.

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

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

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

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

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

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

Predicting the future is always a bit precarious. We all want to peer forward, but in the real world, there are no magic crystal balls. In the list below, we identify ten trends that RSG thinks will happen in 2015. As such, they tend to be less “futuristic,” but ideally more practical.

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

This is our ninth year in a row doing this humbling exercise. If you'd like to see how we've done previously, you can view past predictions here: 2014, 2013, 2012, 2011, 2010, 2009, 2008, and 2007.

Here's RSG's 2015 technology predictions:

1. DAM Vendors Will Roll out DAM Lite

2. Hybrid ECM Will Come of Age

3. HR Will Rejoin the Digital Workplace Conversation

4. Enterprise Social – Hype around Unified Enterprise Messaging

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

6. A SharePoint 2016 Yawn

7. Marketing Virtual Data Warehouses Will Go Mainstream

8. Drupal Split Will Characterize WCM Market Bifurcation

9. Enterprise Mobile: Apps Will Get Unbundled

10. Connected Devices Will Become a More Ubiquitous Channel

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

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.

New DAM vendor in our research: Brandworkz #DAM #branding Fri, 05 Dec 2014 08:23:00 +0000 With a history of over 25 years developing brand management tools, Brandworkz is one of a host of smaller, previously workgroup-oriented DAM vendors trying to break the larger enterprise market.

As the name suggests, the main focus for the company has been supporting branding and marketing workflows. Brandworkz is one of the easier DAM systems to configure, with a range of features for web site templating that are more commonly found in WCM systems.

Like many other DAM vendors, Brandworkz is on a path to integrate with other flavors of marketing tools. It will be interesting to see whether they can forge the relationships and churn out the code necessary to run with the larger players in this space.

For the time being, we invite you to access our latest research, and see how Brandworkz measures up to the other players in the crowded landscape of Brand and Marketing Asset Management.

Is Your Enterprise Portal Ready for the Mobile World? #mobile #portals Thu, 04 Dec 2014 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 evaluation chapters in our Portals report specifically review the mobile capabilities of all the major players.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Webinar Tuesday: ECM Marketplace Going into 2015 #trends #ecm Mon, 01 Dec 2014 16:02:00 +0000 Traditionally a relatively slow moving marketplace, Enterprise Content Management (ECM) is now seeing a lot of activity, mostly due to developments in Mobile and Cloud-based technologies.

If you’d like to know what RSG thinks about this marketplace, join me for a fast-paced webinar tomorrow.

Date: Tuesday December 2, 2014

Time: 11:00-11:30 AM EST (16:00-16:30 UTC/GMT)

I'll provide a preview of Enterprise Content Management (ECM) and Cloud File Sharing (CFS) Marketplace, and provide a framework for you to evaluate the marketplace based on your own needs. Then we'll guide you through specific steps for selecting the best fitting document management or cloud-based file sharing tools for your enterprise.

During this webinar, you will gain an understanding of:

  • Trends as we go into 2015
  • How to evaluate ECM and CFS tools
  • Business scenarios, functional services, and technology services within the arena
  • The overall marketplace and its key players

Register here.

If you have any specific questions in the meantime, just tweet (@apoorv) and I'll try to address those in the webinar.

Why HR Should Care About the Digital Workplace #DigitalWorkplace #intranet Mon, 01 Dec 2014 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...

New open source DAM evaluation: ResourceSpace #DAM #opensource Fri, 21 Nov 2014 09:11:00 +0000 One of a growing number of open source DAM projects where commercial vendors offer hosted options, ResourceSpace is gaining a reputation as a free and easy-to-use DAM. On the other hand, it's limited to simpler DAM scenarios, unless your organization is rich with programming talent, or you wish to pay a 3rd party to extend it.

ResourceSpace operates on a relatively permissive license, which allows development on the product without being obliged to share code back with the community. This allows you to become "master of your own destiny," less encumbered by the rules and expectations set by the open source community. Unfortunately it also means that feature development depends on a small number of dedicated programmers, so innovation comes more slowly than comparable DAMs.

If you’re interested in open source platforms and want to know more about ResourceSpace and similar vendors, then have a look at our latest evaluation report. There you can compare ResourceSpace to other open source DAM projects like Duraspace, Nuxeo, and Razuna.

What the Azure Outage Means for SharePoint and Yammer Customers #microsoft #EntArch Thu, 20 Nov 2014 16:50:00 +0000 "The cloud is down." Words you never want to utter to your CEO.

Every major cloud provider has experienced outages: Amazon, Google, and most recently, Azure.

It looks like Microsoft tried to roll out a single patch across its global infrastructure and everything failed at once. This understandably annoyed customers who paid extra for geographic redundancy. It also led to the usual concerns about the paucity of redress and compensation in the Azure SLA. At least Microsoft -- unlike Salesforce -- gives you an SLA in the first place.

The error was compounded by poor customer communications when the Azure availability dashboard displayed outdated information, since the dashboard itself was running in....Azure. Redmond turned to Twitter instead, which was clever, but also rather confusing to customers.

[This reminds me of an old joke among SharePoint insiders:

- "Where did the junior system administrator store his SharePoint disaster recovery documentation?"

- "I dunno, where?"

- "In the DR document library within IT's SharePoint site!"

Hah, hah, hah, hah...]

What This Means for SharePoint and Yammer Customers

If you're running SharePoint Online (part of Office 365) or SharePoint on-premise, ostensibly you were shielded from direct impact. O365 gets served to you from in its own, separate data centers that are not part of Azure. And Yammer runs within yet a separate set of infrastructure. Get more details on this from RSG's social-collaboration vendor evaluation research.

So all good, right?


With SharePoint 2013, Redmond has largely abandoned previous extension approaches in favor of the "app model," which encourages you to build atomic services above SharePoint, rather than within SharePoint. Then Microsoft encourages you to put those apps in Azure. So with an Azure outage, your SharePoint system may not go down, but parts of it could get broken.

Also, if you want to enjoy single sign-on across on-premise systems and Office 365, Microsoft will point you to Active Directory Federation Services (AD FS), and again encourage you to host those services in Azure. For some customers, this meant the Azure outage locked them out of O365.

Going Forward

Redmond sees Azure as the glue that puts its various off-premise pieces together. In fact, Azure is becoming especially important for SharePoint in the cloud. As subscribers to our SharePoint research know, Redmond has developed a co-existence model, but, astoundingly, never developed a hybrid model for linking on-prem and cloud-based SharePoint estates. This has implications well beyond AD FS.

For example, if you want to connect (let alone merge) search results, profiles, workflows, metadata models, and such across on-premise and cloud SharePoint, you typically build or rent middleware running in....Azure.

Advice for You

Hopefully, Microsoft learned all the right lessons from this outage. Let's also remember that your own infrastructure and networks can fail, too.

For you the customer, just recognize that across Yammer, SharePoint, and IaaS/PaaS services running in Azure, you're looking at three distinct environments, each with their own benefits and pitfalls. Weigh your decisions accordingly, and let us know if we can help with your assessments.

New in our DAM research: Bright Interactive's Asset Bank #branding #DAM Wed, 19 Nov 2014 21:58:00 +0000 Asset Bank, the DAM product from UK-based Bright Interactive, is an on premise or an in-the-cloud, SaaS offering. Comparable to vendors such as Fotoware and Picturepark, Asset Bank comes at an appealingly low price.

With the goal of keeping things simple, Asset Bank is not particularly feature-rich, and Bright interactive is slow to innovate when we compare it to other SMB or Workgroup DAM vendors. Some customers like it simple, and by keeping it that way, Bright Interactive takes the time to cultivate their customer service practice. With seemingly low feature demand and functionality added only when necessary, the complaints of slow and cumbersome development seen elsewhere in the industry don't surface as much here.

We look more deeply into Asset Bank's capabilities in the latest Digital & Media Asset Management Report, so you can decide if it's the right fit for you.

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

This Ship Has Sailed

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

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

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

What Differentiators?

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

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

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

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

Cloud File Sharing and Sync services in 2015 #Cloud #EntArch Wed, 19 Nov 2014 10:27:00 +0000 Cloud-based File Sharing (CFS) services first become hugely popular in the consumer marketplace. Services like Dropbox, iCloud, and Google Drive provide a very simpler way to sync your pictures (and other files) and share them with your friends. This simplicity of functionality and ease of use were the key drivers behind rapid rise of these services.

Evolution of Enterprise CFS Services

Naturally, people started to use these services in their workplace, and so a new category of services — with similar functionality but relatively deeper enterprise focus — was born. Some of these services are Box, EMC Syncplicty, Accellion, Citrix ShareFile, Oxygen, and Workshare (We evaluate these in RSG's ECM & Cloud File Sharing Report).

But Consumer and Enterprise Worlds Are Very Different...

As these services started to get widely used in organizations, there was a demand for additional “enterprise-y” features: integration with internal systems, security and enterprise controls, compliance, and so on.

Now, once you start adding these capabilities, you increase the very complexity that these products successfully avoided. And if you have to deploy a complex product, why not use a another complex product that you already have?

So ECM vendors started to build or acquire these capabilities. EMC acquired Syncplicity, while Alfresco, OpenText, Nuxeo, SharePoint, HP, Oracle, and most other ECM and Document Management vendors provide some sort of cloud-based file sharing and sync service.

Box, a major stand-alone CFS service provider is trying hard to expand its offering and wants to do much more than sync and share (more about this soon in a separate advisory for our subscribers). IBM is the only major ECM vendor without a CFS offering (and no I'm not speculating they’ll buy Box).

What’s Next for These Services?

Going forward, I believe there are two possibilities in terms of how standalone, cloud-based file sharing and sync services will evolve.

1) They’ll become a part of cloud infrastructure
The way ECM tools have traditionally provided repository services for other enterprise applications, these services could provide file-sharing as a service to other (mostly cloud-based) services. In a cloud-connected enterprise, file-sharing platforms will become comparatively easier to integrate and potentially serve as a repository for a variety of other, SaaS-based tools. I wrote about this earlier here and here.

2) Cloud file sharing and sync will just become a feature instead of a service
This will happen either because stand-alone CFS services will start building additional capabilities (a' la Box) or customers will increasingly use their existing ECM/DM vendors for file-sharing and sync services as well.

We will of course keep watching. Meanwhile, subscribers look out for the next release of ECM & Cloud File Sharing Report, which will have updated reviews of several of these services.

New and updated DAM research: ResourceSpace, Brandworkz, Asset Bank, and Widen #DAM #digitalmarketing Tue, 18 Nov 2014 10:47:00 +0000 We've just released a new version of RSG's Digital & Media Asset Management technology evaluation research, which includes three new DAM system evaluations as well as an update to our review of Widen's Media Collective.

Widen used to be one of the few leaders in SaaS-based DAM, but these days faces more formidable competition from the likes of Bynder, MerlinOne, NetXposure, Canto, and others. We weigh in on how the market for SaaS- and cloud-oriented DAM is evolving, and help you to compare how these tools measure up to each other.

ResourceSpace is an open source DAM (now one of four we evaluate), while Brandworkz and Bright Interactive's Asset Bank are two UK-based, brand-managment oriented vendors. For each, we rate their applicability to particular use cases, and lay out strengths and weaknesses in detail.

Subscribers can access their update here. If you'd like full access to our 50+ DAM vendor evaluations, contact us

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

Funding and Sponsorship

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

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

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

Defining Strategy

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


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

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

Introducing Executive Summary PowerPoint Decks Tue, 11 Nov 2014 13:08:00 +0000 A key request from our subscribers recently has been to help them easily create presentations from the Real Story Group research in order present the findings to their colleagues.

So, today, we're announcing a new way for you to consume your RSG research.  In each of our eight research streams, we've created an Executive Summary PowerPoint deck, updated with each research update.

In each deck you'll find:

- Business case rationale

- Technology services, business scenarios, and intangible ratings in the form of comparison charts

- Vendor snapshots by marketplace tiers and categories

- Pitfalls to avoid

- Insight into an ideal technology selection process

We continue to tailor our vast library of research so that it can be consumed in the most useful way for you.  Stay tuned for more announcements in the next few months as we're working on a couple of new exciting ways to interact with the research like never before.

Subscribers, you can download your new Executive Summary PowerPoint decks here:

Enterprise Collaboration Executive Summary

Digital & Media Asset Management Executive Summary

ECM & Cloud File Sharing Executive Summary

Portals & Content Integration Executive Summary

Web Content & Experience Management Executive Summary

Marketing Automation & Social Technology Executive Summary

Enterprise Mobile Technology Executive Summary

Evaluating SharePoint Executive Summary

Digital Workplace and Marketing Technology Map - 2015 #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Mon, 10 Nov 2014 10:15:00 +0000 We've just released the latest version of our tube/subway map of digital workplace and marketing technology technologies.

What's Changed, What Hasn't

Some long-term trends persist. Most notably for you the customer: a plethora of point solutions await in "the periphery." The lesson here is, while center cities are fun and exciting, sometimes the suburbs represent a better fit.

This map also captures some deeper trends. The Microsoft station has gotten scaled back a bit -- mostly on the digital marketing side, by dint of Redmond eschewing most digital marketing needs, media management, and mobile middleware. The map also tracks the growing importance of players like Adobe and Salesforce.

As always, the number of "stations" for any given vendor is not at all indicative of their quality or weight in the marketplace. This is just a visual of what vendors purport to sell. For detailed evaluations of the pros and cons of each solution, consult our stream-by-stream reviews.

Finding Your Way

You can also download higher-rez versions of this map. People frequently tell us they keep it close at hand as a reference. Let us know if we can help you find your way across this landscape.

Microsoft partners with OneDrive competitor Dropbox #ecm #Cloud Wed, 05 Nov 2014 14:16:00 +0000

What's the deal?

According to this announcement, you will now be able to edit Microsoft Office files from Dropbox's mobile apps, access Office files stored in Dropbox from Office mobile and web apps, and share files directly from Office apps.

But there's a caveat

You will need Office 365 licenses to be able to take advantage of this integration. Regular Office licenses won't do.

What's in it for Dropbox?

Dropbox has been immensely popular cloud-based file sharing and sync service, especially for consumer-centric scenarios. In fact, Dropbox has served as something of a bellwether in this marketplace, and continues to influence many other tools in terms of functionality.

However, Dropbox has presented difficulties within enterprise environments, especially those that require sophisticated controls and need to support complex business processes.

To be sure, the vendor's current offering for enterprises -- Dropbox for Business -- is now in its second incarnation (first one being Dropbox for Teams). But it still has functional limitations for use within enterprises, especially larger ones. for example, a subfolder inherits permissions from parent folder and you can't give a different set of permissions to a subfolder. This means it could become very difficult to create different sharing schemes when you have large number of people, teams and folders.

Perhaps this partnership with Microsoft will help give Dropbox an additional push within the enterprises. If you're a customer with large Office deployments, don't just ignore Dropbox's functional limitations because it now comes with a "Microsoft partnership" badge.

Another interesting aspect here is that Microsoft already promotes its own cloud-based file sharing and sync service known as OneDrive. In spite of that, they went ahead and partnered with Dropbox. This seems indicative of the continuing power and autonomy of the Office team as Redmond's key profit driver.

Finally do remember...

... that a lot of other cloud-based file sharing and sync providers also provide some level of integration with Microsoft Office applications, mostly via exposing their storage as a set of WebDav folders that you can directly access from client applications, including Office applications.

So if you are considering this combination, make sure you evaluate enterprise considerations such as Integration, Security, Administration, and so forth besides this linking of Office and Dropbox. Our ECM & Cloud File Sharing vendor evaluation research can help you here.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Register for the webinar.

How Does the Telerik Acquisition Bode for Sitefinity Customers? #trends #wcm Mon, 27 Oct 2014 11:35:00 +0000 Last week application development tool vendor Progress Software made a bit of a splash by announcing its intent to purchase Telerik AD. Founded in Bulgaria, Telerik is a .NET-focused development toolset provider also known for its Sitefinity Web CMS product that we evaluate in our Web Content & Experience Management evaluation research. The deal is slated to close this December.

It's a splash because Progress had previously been downsizing by selling off various business software pieces, and also because they paid a goodly amount (US $262m) for Telerik.

The WCM Angle

Let's look at the WCM angle. I always thought Sitefinity was a nifty if somewhat underbaked alternative to the heavier .NET-oriented WCM products in the marketplace. Telerik has continued to invest R&D in Sitefinity, even as the vendor's core developer tools business really took off.

My concern now is that the WCM product could get a bit lost at Progress, which has reshaped itself in recent years to focus on selling software to developers, not digital marketers and workplace leaders. The history of Web CMS tools within these kinds of "portfolio vendors" (read: holding companies) has not been promising.

It's telling -- and a bit disconcerting -- that the joint Progress/Telerik press release doesn't mention Sitefinity or web content management at all.

Advice for Customers

If you're an existing Sitefinity owner, there's no need to rush to any exits, but you should keep a close eye on atmospherics next year. If you're in the market for a new Web CMS and looking at Sitefinity, this latest development should give you some pause. We'll keep watching...