Jeffrey Mann

A member of the Gartner Blog Network

Jeffrey Mann
Research VP
14 years at Gartner
26 years IT industry

Jeffrey Mann is a research vice president for collaboration and social software at Gartner Research. Mr. Mann focuses on social software, team workspaces, the collaboration market and knowledge management. Read Full Bio

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Collaboration and Social Software Anti-Resolutions for 2009

by Jeffrey Mann  |  January 1, 2009  |  5 Comments

Many blogs publish their predictions and personal resolutions on the first day of the year. So I won’t.

Instead, I want to talk about 10 anti-resolutions for 2009. They are anti in a couple different ways. The main one is that these are not things that I intend to do, but stuff that I hope that other people will do. I find that a lot easier. It’s also generally what analysts do; we rarely do stuff, but we comment a lot on what others should do. Most them are also anti because they describe something that I hope won’t happen anymore rather than new things that should happen. I am generally not a negative person, but there’s a lot of undesirable activity going on out there. After reading this, please stop it. Thank you.

  1. Enterprises will stop fixating on social software gew gaws and competitive product horse races and put energy into achieving collaboration effectiveness.
    I talk with many customers who are primarily interested in what new features vendors have packed into their products, or the competitive position between a group of vendors, all of whom are viable and could meet their needs. These things are surely interesting and sometimes important, but rarely are they the main drivers for success.  Instead, focus on the best ways to work together and what kinds of input or feedback will help you, your colleagues or your customers be more effective. Look for the bottlenecks that kill productivity. Find the spots where conflict and arguments arise; that is usually where more collaboration will help. Comparing features and competition can be fun, but these activities will be far more effective.
  2. Vendors will lessen their emphasis on new features and functionality, and help their customers get stuff done.
    It’s not just the enterprises that need to shift; vendors have their part to play. Too many vendors still consider their job is done when the software is delivered, at least until they have to convince the customer to upgrade to the next version. Making sure customers use the current version effectively is far more useful than pushing out another 150 APIs or increasing the number of themes from 20 to 100.
  3. Vendors will get realistic about their positions.
    Analysts spend a lot of time arguing with vendors. Sometimes it is because we are wrong. Often it is because we say things that they know are true, but really, really don’t want us to say publicly. I can understand this; I was a vendor once, and it is never pleasant when people say bad things about you. But I would rather put my energy into other things, so I hope that some of them would look at their strengths and weaknesses more realistically.
  4. Security and social software people will stop talking past each other.
    I have seen too many entrenched positions among the social software and security constituencies in my clients, the vendor community and even between analysts. Social software people must not assume that there are no risks and all security measures stem from paranoia and are unreasonable restrictions to be circumvented. Security people must not assume that social software has no business value therefore no risks are acceptable. They need to talk to each other rather than past each other.
  5. Network communications and collaboration people will stop fighting.
    Market shifts cause tension for vendors and among the customers they server. As traditional collaboration vendors (like Microsoft) offer voice services and traditional communications vendors (like Cisco) start to offer collaboration products, the different IT departments aligned with these areas are bumping up against each other. Like with security, these groups need to stop talking past each other, and talk to each other.
  6. Vendors will stop pitting different user constituencies against each other.
    Some vendors find an advantage in encouraging tension between their customers’ departments. I hate that. I hope it stops. 
  7. There will be effective help managing overlapping life and work personas
    The lines between work and private activities have been blurring for some time. The rise of social media is about to obliterate what distinctions still remain. While I keep this Gartner blog separate from my private blog, I use Twitter to track and broadcast both private and business ideas, which makes me distinctly uncomfortable sometimes. Better help in maintaining the differences that need to remain will become much more important in 2009.
  8. There will be more help managing personas in general.
    Personas and the tools to manage them should become big in 2009. Users need to be able to control easily and transparently the roles they are acting in, whether private or professional, buyer or seller, commenter or writer, parent or child, producer or consumer, and on and on. The current tools are way to rudimentary.
  9. Video will stop being the Next Big Thing and finally become the Current Big Thing.
    Videoconferencing has been the The Next Big Thing since the 1964 World’s Fair in New York, which saw the first video phone.  In almost 45 years, it has stubbornly refused to become the current big thing, however. Room-based video systems are unwieldy and disruptive. Some companies use them effectively, but I cannot begin to count how many meeting rooms I have been in where the video equipment sits in the corner with a tangle of connectors and cables sitting on top of it. Cheap desktop webcams and high end telepresence systems are making video more accessible and a much better experience respectively. The trouble is that most people want low cost AND great quality. It would be nice if those came together in 2009.

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  10. No one will “Reply all” to more than ten people.
    Yeah, that would be nice.

The last reason these are anti-resolutions is that I don’t really think that any of them will happen in 2009. We will make progress on some of them, but none of them will be fully achieved, which is a good thing.  That leaves something for analysts like me to write about in 2009, and then some.

5 Comments »

Category: being an analyst blogging predictions social software Vendors     Tags: , , , , ,

5 responses so far ↓

  • 1 Vanessa Alvarez   January 5, 2009 at 11:56 am

    RE: #5 and maybe #6
    Absolutely agree-but easier said than done. I think the bigger issue is that the traditional players in their respective areas are used to “owning” the market. Collaboration forces vendors to work together, and “share” the pie. We all know this is a major feat.
    Same thing is seen in end users. The “network” guy and the “app” guy still think they’re responsible for their own areas, but this set-up doesn’t work with an effective enterprise collaboration strategy in place. Major IT reorg is going to have to happen in order to make collaboration work. Are enterprises ready for this? It’s a big commitment.

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