Real Story Group Recent Real Story Group Blog Entries Copyright (c) 2015, Inc. All Rights Reserved. : Blogs en-us 01/28/2015 00:00:00 60 Join us at IntaTeam Event in Copenhagen #DigitalWorkplace #intranet Wed, 28 Jan 2015 15:37:00 +0000 Late next month, we'll be teaching and speaking at the IntraTeam event in Copenhagen, Denmark, the region's premier event about the digital workplace, enterprise search, and related topics. If you're in Northern Europe and looking to quickly expand your knowledge of these areas, please join me there.

I'll be teaching half-day seminars on how to select the most appropriate array of digital workplace technologies for you, and also hosting sessions on collaboration & social technology, as well as a deep dive on mobile platforms for the enterprise.

Early bird pricing ends this week, so be sure to book your participation soon. Hope to see you there!


2015 Marketing Automation and Social Software Technology Market Analysis #digitalmarketing #trends Mon, 26 Jan 2015 15:53:00 +0000 Today we released our annual briefing on the state of the Marketing Automation and Social Software Technology marketplace. Subscribers can download the full analysis here.

This 9-page briefing provides (1) an overview of marketplace trends (with emphasis on near-term practical implications for customers rather than pie-in-the-sky crystal gazing) and also (2) how the vendors lie on RSG's risk-reality spectrum a.k.a., the Reality Check. This represents a moment-in-time perspective. For detailed evaluations of the individual vendors, consult our MAST report.

One of the trends we dwell at length in this briefing is what to make of tall vendor claims (particularly large vendors) about their fully integrated end-to-end marketing platforms or clouds that can cater to all your marketing requirements. Well, circa 2015, such a fully-integrated marketing cloud is like the Himalayan Yeti or the Loch Ness Monster. Sightings are often rumored but a closer look reveals that these continue to remain elusive and mythical.

Figure 1: A fully integrated marketing cloud is just as elusive as the Himalayan Yeti. Image Source: Philippe Semeria (click to enlarge)

In addition to the broader market trends, you'll also find where the vendors we evaluate in our Digital Marketing Report and their products fall on a change spectrum. Here is the snapshot.

Figure 2: RSG Reality Check 2015 for the Marketing Automation and Social Software Technology Marketplace (click to enlarge)

Note that there is no single magic square here. What matters most is that you identify the best-fit solution for your needs.

In addition to the visual trajectory, you'll find "key things to keep in mind" commentary about each of the above vendors. Get the full briefing here.

Microsoft gives up on Web CMS for SharePoint Online #cms #sharepoint Mon, 26 Jan 2015 13:26:00 +0000 As readers of RSG's Web Content & Experience Management evaluation report know, SharePoint is a poor fit for external-facing CMS scenarios.

In fact, Web CMS has always been the unloved step-child at Redmond.  With the push to the cloud in general and Office 365 (including SharePoint Online) in particular, Microsoft clearly had an opportunity to create a more web-focused, standards-friendly WCM offering -- something that could keep up with the expanding needs of digital teams who need to innovate more rapidly than SharePoint's traditional three-year cycle.

But it was not to be.  In fact, the cloud-version of SharePoint Web Publishing only offers a subset of the capabilities found in the on-premise edition.  More generally Microsoft just doesn't seem interested in digital marketing.  To be fair, Redmond has been increasingly candid about this.

So it wasn't a big surprise over the winter holidays when Microsoft rather quietly pulled the plug on "Public Websites" in SharePoint Online.  Current users will still receive product support for a couple more years, but no new public websites can get built.

Redmond's announcement hints at partnering with or reselling WCM services from a 3rd-party supplier.  If so, the choice will be telling.  If Redmond promotes a more productized, lower-end solution, it will speak volumes about its assumptions about its core Office 365 customer base.  If it offers a more sophisticated, integration-friendly offering, larger SharePoint Online customers may take a second look.

Either way, we'll keep watching, and sharing deeper analysis with our WCM research subscribers.

Participate in our WCM customer survey #cms #trends Thu, 22 Jan 2015 15:40:00 +0000 RSG is currently conducting a customer survey on Web Content & Experience Management technology usage.

If you are an end-user of WCM technology, please participate. In exchange for ten minutes of your time, we'll send you a summary of the findings once complete.

Here's a link to the survey.

If you're interested in the types of questions we ask, here's an example:

The very next question asks about non-technical business challenges...

Looking forward very much to hearing what you have to say and sharing the results!

Teradata tucks-in Appoxee and mobile marketing is now so sexy #digitalmarketing #mobile Thu, 22 Jan 2015 12:30:00 +0000 Teradata, one of the vendors we evaluate in the Marketing Automation and Social Technology stream, announced last week that it has acquired Israeli mobile start-up Appoxee. What does this mean for customers and the industry at large?

To recap: Teradata -- a vendor more known for its data warehousing software -- has been trying hard to morph from just being a data infrastructure software vendor. For the past 3 years Teradata has been on a quest to add marketing software tools to it's portfolio, including email marketing vendor eCircle, and now aggressively pitches its "Integrated Marketing Management" tools.

The latest to join the tools on Teradata's shelf is Appoxee, a SaaS tool for mobile messages (both in-app and push). You can consider it part of a niche marketing category called "mobile marketing automation." As with traditional marketing automation, Appoxee automates marketing messages based on rules and templates, analyzing recipient behaviors and customizing follow-on messages.

The benefits for Teradata customers still lie some quarters off, because integration is not instantaneous.

However, the acquisition points to marketing vendors responding to the rise of smart phones and "mobile-enabling" their software portfolios. Consider:

  • In late 2013, IBM acquired Xtify, a mobile messaging vendor similar to Appoxee.
  • In Q4, 2014, Salesforce has released a tool called JourneyBuilder for the ExactTarget Marketing Cloud, which enables in-app mobile marketing campaigns.
  • Adobe has added in-app messaging functionality for iBeacons apps in it's Marketing Cloud.

Other larger marketing automation vendors also offer mobile messaging capabilities of varying maturity.

Of course, needless to say mobile marketing is fraught with some obvious challenges (such as privacy concerns, small screen size, and so on), but the bigger hurdle to adoption stems from relevance. When mobile is not integrated with the rest of the marketing efforts but a treated as a separate silo, the relevance factor for the customer gets rapidly reduced. But when mobile gets integrated with the rest of the marketing activity-chain, arguably there is greater value in it for the customers.

For an in-depth look of the marketing technology vendors and the scenarios they are best suited for, check out our Marketing Automation and Social Technology Evaluations.

Web Content and Experience Management Marketplace Circa 2015 #cms #trends Wed, 21 Jan 2015 11:56:00 +0000 This week we released our annual briefing on the state of the Web Content and Experience Management (WCM) marketplace. Subscribers can download the full analysis here.

The 8-page briefing provides an overview of marketplace trends and where vendors lie on RSG's "Reality Check" risk-reward spectrum. (For individual vendor evaluations by category, consult our WCM Report).

There are many ways to slice and dice the WCM market: by region, by technology, by license model, by cost, and so on. We continue to posit that system complexity remains the single most important calculus, and to that extent, the WCM market is really two sub-marketplaces: products versus platforms.

Platforms are more extensible but more complicated to maintain and enhance. Products are more immediately deployable and less developer-intensive, but bring less functional richness. Neither is better than the other, just different.

Likewise, there is no magic to any single square below. What matters most is that you identify the best-fit solution for your unique needs.

Fig 1. Reality Check for WCM Products (click to enlarge)

The WCM product landscape has remained relatively stable (generally a good thing for customers), with the exception of some institutional uncertainty in the .NET mid-market.

Now let's take a look at WCM platforms.

Fig 2. Reality Check for WCM Platforms (click to enlarge)

The WCM platform landscape is (as you might expect) a bit more active, particularly due to M&A activity as vendors try to broaden their digital marketing "suites." The major "legacy" vendors (HP, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText, and Oracle) continue to underinvest in the Web CMS segment.

The comparative stability of the WCM marketplace overall conceals some important technical changes and innovations happening under the covers, along with some evolution of business models, particularly with respect to key channel relationships.

We detail these trends and more in the full report.

Introducing Realtime Shortlist Generator and Vendor Comparison Tools #pmot #tech Tue, 20 Jan 2015 18:52:00 +0000 When it comes to selecting new technology for your enterprise, we routinely get two types of questions from our subscribers:

1. How do I get the right shortlist of vendors to consider?

2. How does vendor X compare to vendor Y?

In an effort to help you better answer these questions, I'm thrilled to announce the launch of two new applications designed to get you real-time answers:

  • Realtime: Shortlist GeneratorTM: This is version 2 of our shortlist building application. We've received great feedback from subscribers since we launched version 1 of this application a few years ago. Recently, we've made some usability and stability improvements that make it a much more effective shortlist building experience.
  • Realtime Vendor Comparison ToolTM: with this new application, you can choose any two (or more) vendors within one of our research areas to see how they stack up head-to-head. For example, you can quickly see how your incumbent vendor stacks up versus its competitors in the market.

With both of these tools, you can generate your own custom research report based on the results of your searches.

Subscribers, you can build your own shortlists and head-to-head vendor comparisons now. If you are thinking about subscribing, you can try either tool here to get a sense of how they work.

We are actively working on more enhancements to both applications so stay tuned for even more ways to interact with the most unfiltered analysis on the market...

ECM Marketplace - What to expect in 2015 #Cloud #ecm Mon, 19 Jan 2015 07:11:00 +0000 Going into 2015, the ECM and cloud file sharing marketplace comprises of two broad categories of tools/services, though they increasingly overlap:

  1. Traditional ECM vendors, which provide a whole range of services around document and enterprise content management. This category has two sub-categories:
    • Major ECM Platforms
    • Simpler Document Management (DM) Products
  2. Cloud-based File Sharing and Sync (CFSS) services, which excel in lightweight document management, collaboration, sharing, and sync services

These two categories might seem to be two distinct marketplaces, but you will find considerable overlap between CFSS vendors and ECM vendors. CFSS vendors have started to build traditional Document Management (DM) capabilities -- such as version control -- while ECM and DM vendors have built or acquired cloud-based file sharing, sync, and lightweight collaboration services.

Nevertheless, these two categories of tools tend to address different types of use cases. In particular, ECM/DM vendors are more suitable for advanced and complex scenarios; standalone CFSS tools make sense for many simpler scenarios. In fact, CFSS tools score better than full-fledged DM tools in terms of ease of use and the fact that you can get an implementation running with little system integration work.

In our newest marketplace briefing, 2015 ECM & Cloud File Sharing Market Analysis, we offer a snapshot of trends in the current marketplace. In particular, we explain the evolution of CFSS, the growing relevance hybrid ECM models, and how mobile, collaboration, and social will impact this marketplace.

Finally, we provide an overview of the key players as well as a comparative analysis of the relative risks and opportunities associated with each ECM vendor via RSG's "Reality Check" chart (above). Contrary to many observers, you can see in the chart above that we find product evolution proceeding fairly rapidly in this space; the full paper explains more.

ECM stream subscribers can download the full briefing here.

RSG hiring - Boston, Washington, Philadelphia #digitalmarketing #DigitalWorkplace Sat, 17 Jan 2015 17:15:00 +0000 We're hiring:

  • Technology Researcher - entry level (Greater Washington DC or Philadelphia)
  • Technology Analyst - junior or mid-career (DC or Philly)
  • New Business Manager - junior or mid-career (Greater Boston)

See our Careers page for more details.


Portals Marketplace - What to expect in 2015 #pmot #EntArch Fri, 16 Jan 2015 12:40:00 +0000 Portal technology continues to play an important role in many enterprise architectures. They are a better fit than other types of tools for enterprises that require:

  • Heavy aggregation and integration with external or internal applications
  • A dashboard-based user experience
  • Complex user management and segmentation/personalization at an application level

However, these benefits come at the expense of comparatively high complexity and greater infrastructure demands. As a result, we advise that you should consider portal solutions as platforms that should be extended to meet your needs, rather than as products that provide functionality out of the box.

Here's our Reality Check™ for portal technology, circa 2015.

In our briefing for RSG Portal Stream subscribers, the 2015 Portals Market Analysis, we offer a snapshot of trends in the current marketplace.

In particular, we look at impact of WCM and other "Portal-lite" tools on Portal tools, as well as how Portal tools are evolving with respect to Cloud and Mobile delivery capabilities.

Finally, we provide an overview of the key players as well as a comparative analysis of the relative risks associated with each portal vendor via RSG's "Reality Check" chart, that you see above.

2015 Digital & Media Asset Management Market Analysis #DAM #digitalmarketing Wed, 14 Jan 2015 09:45:00 +0000 We've just released our 2015 Digital & Media Asset Management market analysis. 2014 wasn't as dynamic as it perhaps could have been: it was another year of moderate progress for the vendors in this space, and our customer research made it clear that satisfaction levels among end-users remains low.

Although most vendors gradually added functionality and partnerships to address the broadening scope of enterprise asset management needs, there have been few major product launches or acquisitions since 2012. We continue to see more DAM-specific vendors enter the market, especially in the area of cloud and SaaS (Software-as-a-Service) offerings.

In the 2015 market analysis, we explore the current state of the digital & media asset management market in-depth, including:

 -- DAM as an element in the broader digital marketing toolkit

 -- How refinements and partnerships - not innovation - currently drive product development

 -- The proliferation of cloud-oriented DAM offerings

 -- Vendor operational & service struggles

 -- How the 50+ vendors we cover currently fare in terms of risk and pace of change

Subscribers can access their briefing here.

If you're new to DAM, looking to update your enterprise approach to digital & media asset management, or wondering how DAM should fit into your larger marketing technology toolkit, be sure to let us know.

Growth and Turmoil in the WCM Mid-Market #cms #trends Mon, 12 Jan 2015 15:55:00 +0000 The middle of the Web Content & Experience Management (WCM) marketplace has seen substantial expansion over the past several years. In particular, the large and vibrant .NET technology segment has experienced rapid change.

As a buyer, what to make of this? We'll share some broader marketplace trends with our subscribers shortly, but in the meantime, I'm pleased to announce a significant update to our WCM vendor evaluations, with a particular emphasis on the major, .NET-oriented players.

At a high-level there are two contradictory trends going on here:

  1. Several vendors are closing on Sitecore from a feature standpoint, calling into question Sitecore's ample price premium going forward
  2. Several of those same vendors are facing institutional turbulence

A closer look at key .NET players

Ektron has simplified its strategy and beefed up its executive ranks, but important questions linger about the base technology.

EPiServer continues to deepen and broaden its platform, becoming a legitimate contender to Sitecore, but its institutional future now looks a bit cloudy.

With this report release, we begin coverage of open source Umbraco, which continues to attract a loyal following. However, Umbraco's "thin core" strategy risks getting out of sync with the broader marketplace in the absence of strong community governance.

Sitecore continues to work on scaling and back-filling some features it brought to market prematurely, which certainly bodes well for existing licensees, but prospective customers should remain skeptical of Sitecore's ambitious roadmap.

Sitefinity is a value-oriented player with a broad (if not deep) feature set, but its future looks murky under new ownership

Getting your hands on the latest vendor evaluations

Subscribers can log in above to see the latest report edition. Or pit vendors head-to-head using our online comparison tool.

(Wondering if your firm already subscribes? Many global organizations already have access to RSG research. Check with your research department or contact us to find out whether your organization already subscribes.)

If you don't subscribe, you can download a sample excerpt; for WCM, it's a complete evaluation of HP-Autonomy's TeamSite platform.

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.