Archive for the 'enterprisey' Category

Enterprise Social Software and Collaboration Report 2009 – More Doorway than Doorstop

Enterprise Social Software Report 2009I have to admit – when my copy of the Enterprise Social Software and Collaboration Report 2009 from CMS Watch arrived, I was a bit daunted when I heaved the envelope – this thing seemed like a doorstop.  I opened it and typically just fanned open to a few pages, catching glimpses of catalog-like inventory pages on various enterprise software products… honestly?  Is this just a huge, expensive collection of RFP responses?  Having other reading material ahead of it in line, I set it on the pile.  Honestly, I procrastinated a bit before tackling it. 

Big mistake.

When I finally dove in I was pleasantly surprised.  The extensive introduction is a fantastic foundational read for anyone getting into social software or social media in an enterprise setting.  There are well over 100 pages of detailed analysis on topics such as the business case for social software, a vivisection of social software types and services, and scenario-based vignettes of social software.  There is an extremely deep dive into the actual inventory of software products and platforms, with descriptions, ratings, feature matrices and screenshots.  And in classic fashion, the executive summary is saved until the end.

What’s so great about this report is that it is more enterprisey than wonk-ish.  Of course, social software is still new-but-busting-into many large enterprises.  The Social Software Report is a playbook for this market.  The analysts provide fantastic feature descriptions and real-world usage patterns, but also cover fun topics like Compliance in detail just as great.  Describing the differences between real-time versus cached LDAP credentials from both compliance- and point-of-failure angles is Good Stuff for the Enterprise Architect.  Covering archiving is good (they do this), but doing it within a section called “Lifecycle Management” shows you they get it.

There are suitably large sections on the big platform vendors (30-ish pages on Sharepoint), since many enterprises own one or many of those already.  But there is still plenty of coverage on best-of-breeds like SocialText and Jive.  Detailed functional reviews are followed by technical architecture descriptions – which, I know from my own tedious research experience, don’t always jump off the vendor sites at you.

If you are engaged in any explorations of social software, don’t make the same mistake I did.  If you are going through a selection process, it’s ridiculous to not check this report out.  But even if you have constrained options or a preferred vendor that’s already a done deal – this report will flesh out your understanding of the marketplace for social software enough to get you kicked out of the next BarCamp for being a suit.

Good stuff, this report – check it out!

Technorati tags: social software, social media, cms watch, enterprise 2.0, web 2.0, collaboration, research, industry analysts

Getting Real Value Out of Sales Pitches

Tony Byrne is right on when he says:

Increasingly I find SEs somewhat removed from actual implementation details (except what they’ve customized on their own laptops). While comfortable issuing jargon about “persistence layers” and “dynamic cache invalidation,” they don’t always have much depth on the mechanics of how their tools actually work behind the scenes.

Amen.  How tired are we in large enterprises of product pitch teams actually composed of all sales staff?  The ostensibly technical people in the room, as Tony says, often really understand just how to install and manage their demo environments.  If technical people are on the customer end, they need to be on the sales end as well.  We want to know how it runs in virtualized environments, how it integrates with policy server environments (read:  not just LDAP), how we can comply with policy around electronic records, electronic signatures, and audit trails.

These come from the professional services domain, not the sales domain – at least in a meaningful way.  Sales people are important too – but don’t forget to invite PS along next time you come calling.

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IT As A Competitive Asset (was: How To Keep Water Off the Floor)

I’m struck by the continuing view of IT as a means of just keeping lights running in a business. There are no doubt many fundamentals and a fair share of IT behavior continually renews the sense of ennui that business partners feel when working with IT, but it’s not always that bad.

I was amused by an audience question from Susan Scrupski at my Office 2.0 panel about how often the panelists regarded IT as a barrier to adoption of web 2.0 initiatives. It was nice to get the question out for discussion, as it is too often taken as a given (I joked that I didn’t know what they were talking about). But there are indeed various real barriers in IT to adopting new technologies, and re-orienting thinking towards social software: preferred vendors, security concerns, and traditional thinking about productivity are among them.

But I was even more struck while doing recent research among analysts. I was researching an area that is more on the outward facing side of our business and was shocked to find little clear guidance from a certain firm I love. The analysts at that firm clearly get it – if you read their blogs they get it, and if you talk to them, they get it. So where is the research?

Keeping water off the floor of the data center and such operational concerns are the foundation of good IT and enterprise architecture. But many enterprises are evolving their IT organizations around the products and services they provide, and are blurring lines between core infrastructure and lines of business. IT is getting focus both as an area of cost control, but also an enabler for revenue growth.

Analysts should be mindful about helping companies grow the top line, not just control expense.

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Burton Panel – iPhone for the Enterprise (?)

If you are a Burton Group subscriber, you might be aware that Burton is holding a telebriefing panel today on the topic of “iPhone for the Enterprise”, which should be good. It sounds like a bit of a REST/SOA point-counterpoint with some panelists stumping for the iPhone and others chopping it down.

I have not yet experience the iPhone (but will next week at Office 2.0), so don’t have an informed opinion. Everything I hear sounds like it has a rich browsing experience, and also that Apple is putting forth a good effort to build a development ecosystem around the platform. So who knows, maybe it could happen.

I still think the biggest hurdle at large companies is the perception that the iPhone is just a must-have consumer device. Of course, you can play music and video on many smartphones, but this is where Apple’s propensity to do it too much better than everyone else backfires. Do you just want to watch DVDs, or are you getting some work done?

The killer app for the iPhone, against Windows Mobile at least, is stability. If Apple can nail the stability game, go enterprisey when it comes to device management, and get a development ecosystem going, who knows…

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Gotta Gets It

I made the egregious mistake of letting something like 33 Gotta posts getting stacked up in BlogLines – serious mistake if you actually want to read him. Mike has some of the meatiest posts in my sub list. More importantly, Mike actually gets the enterprise and deftly approaches many meme-quality topics with incisive analysis on what they mean to large enterprises. Welcome comfort to us enterprisey folk.

Here are a couple of great Gotta reads…

What If A “Mob” Ruled Your Company?

I sort of followed the recent Digg issue, but wasn’t as impressed as a lot of others were with Digg’s position. I actually shared Mike’s reaction to a large extent. I like the crowd, but I fear the mob. Mike is right – there is a razor thin line.

Enterprise 2.0: Honeywell Explores Value Of Intranet Tagging

Mike is one of a small handful that actually shares examples of 2.0 in the enterprise rather than just pontificating. Honeywell using Connectbeam? Cool.

Alan Pelz-Sharpe Nails Enterprise Architecture in 10 Notes

I have been tracking CMS Watch for some untold number of years now (I don’t even want to count them up and date myself), and love it even though CM / ECM is no longer the center of my universe as it once was.

Along comes Alan and he nails just about every problem in Enterprise Architecture in 10 short points!!! He presents it as an ECM list, but accurately notes at the end that you can substitute just about any E* problem domain in place of ECM and the list holds. A couple of my favorites:

You have allowed your users to dump content into your repository without concern for process, rules or structure, and now its a humongous mess

You are running a centralized system but really should have a distributed one

Your developers had to fiddle extensively with your ECM platform, and two software versions later it doesn’t play nicely anymore with anything

I’m loving it – this is one for the wall…

CMS Watch has done a fantastic job over the years demystifying the technology of ECM, and repeatedly pointing readers back to the people and process concerns that are the key to ECM success and the most frequent afterthoughts.

It’s also very cool to see what Tony has been turning this firm into in the last couple of years – it’s clearly gaining traction. I always thought the insight was high quality to begin with, but they are conducting more and more surgical strikes on a wider area – search and portals among them. Keep it up, gang. Readers – start tracking this feed if you aren’t already.

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More Thoughts on ESBs and Routers

Todd Biske and Mark both had some meaty comments on my ESB post from the other day – they in fact eclipsed the value of the original post! (Which is great.)

Their blogs are both great reads if you are in market for architecture blogs.


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