by Larry Cannell | January 6, 2012 | Comments Off
Just a quick note to let you know that I have submitted a session proposal to the Enterprise 2.0 Conference and to ask for your support in getting this on the agenda. You can help by posting a comment or “Liking” the submission (available here).
The session is based on a Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) report by the same title. You can read more in this blog post.
The Post-2.0 Era: Social in the Context of My Work
The widespread adoption of Facebook, the embrace of activity streams by business applications, and the success of smartphone applications have significantly changed information worker expectations since Enterprise 2.0 was introduced in 2006. Post-2.0 technologies are enabling the Social Online Workplace, a worker-centric yet social environment facilitating ongoing discussions that are seeded by messages coming from individuals, business applications, and collaborative tools.
This is an opportunity for the IT organization to get out in front of this change and start planning how to provide social infrastructure within an enterprise architecture. While the initial application of these new architectural components should be on improving worker effectiveness by enabling ambient awareness of activities within a sphere of responsibilities, the social online workplace can also become a powerful new knowledgebase.
Attendees of this session will learn:
- The relevance of activity streams and social network sites to enterprise IT environments
- The concept of the Social Online Workplace
- The value of a consolidated activity stream and social graph
- How social infrastructure can be contextually surfaced to support natural work flows
- The impact of social infrastructure on existing IT components, such as email, document management, and search
Thank you for your support. The session proposal is available here.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: enterprise 2.0
by Larry Cannell | January 5, 2012 | 1 Comment
Let’s face it. Enterprise 2.0 is getting old. Coined in 2006, the term originally implied using Web 2.0 technologies within company networks. Almost six years later “Enterprise 2.0” hardly has the metaphorical oomph it may have once had, which is why we’ve seen the emergence of new labels such as “Social Business” or “Social Collaboration.” However, in my opinion, the change we are now experiencing is much more fundamental. We are now at the start of a Post-2.0 era, where the role social infrastructure will play within an IT stack is becoming clearer. This is an opportunity for the IT organization to get out in front of this change, help describe a vision for how these technologies can be applied to improve worker effectiveness, and start planning support for enterprise social infrastructure.
Now, I have been a strong supporter of Enterprise 2.0 for as long as anyone and even played a role in the formation of the conference that goes by the same name. Personally, I am proud that Enterprise 2.0 has moved the collaboration industry forward, but progress has not nearly been as substantive as many of us had hoped. While the Internet’s most popular activities are now social in nature, the most common technologies facilitating workplace collaboration continue to be email, audio conferencing, and countless network fileshares. Of course, there are many examples of organizations using Enterprise 2.0-style of tools to improve their workplace capabilities. However, their uptake has been frustratingly slow across industry in general.
Innovations Since Enterprise 2.0
Taking a look back at the enterprise collaboration market there has been a number of innovations since the introduction of Enterprise 2.0. These include:
- Broad adoption of public social networks: Facebook opened its social network to the general public at the end of 2006 and has gone through several transformations since. Little did we know at the time it would become so popular that people who you’d never expect to be active on the Internet (e.g., people who barely kept up with email, let alone wrote their own blog), now post daily or hourly Facebook updates (to your delight or chagrin).
- Smartphone applications: Apple opened its App Store in 2008. Since then, “Apps” have become almost synonymous with smartphone or tablet use.
- Business applications integrating with social networks: Salesforce launched Chatter in 2010 and first demonstrated how a social network could provide a front-end to a line-of-business application.
- Other innovations: Cloud-delivered social networks, social network applications, and standards for federating activity streams.
In short, worker expectations have moved on from blogs and wikis, which described Enterprise 2.0 back in 2006. Facebook’s impact on the enterprise collaboration market is undeniable. It is essentially training people in a method for collaborating and sharing online (similar to what free Internet email did many years ago). While some will argue that Enterprise 2.0 is now equated with corporate renditions of Facebook (or solutions based on a Facebook-like experience), it is clear that the enterprise collaboration landscape is quite different from what it was in 2006.
Social, Yet Meeting My Work Needs
However, I am not proposing a name for this Post-2.0 era. Maybe this is a cop-out, but I have my reasons. “Enterprise 3.0” sounds ridiculous and proposing any name would result in arguments over just the name itself, rather than provoking a dialogue around the opportunities that are now emerging.
Instead, I offer a short description, “The Post-2.0 Era: Social in the Context of My Work,” which emphasizes two points. First, it alludes to social software’s ability to enable a familiar and engaging online collaborative context. Second, it highlights the importance of meeting the needs of the individual worker in order to sustain a collaborative environment.
To further explain this, I am also introducing a model, called the Social Online Workplace, to describe the roles Post-2.0 technologies play within an enterprise IT architecture in order to improve employee effectiveness, accelerate the exchange of ideas, and increase information reuse.
The Social Online Workplace
The technological foundation of the Post-2.0 era is the activity stream (Facebook calls this a news feed), which delivers an individually oriented, yet familiar social experience and enables a worker to maintain awareness of what is happening within their sphere of responsibilities. A challenge for enterprise IT organizations will be to surface this worker-centric stream across appropriate applications and connect the stream with sources of events relevant to the worker.
In other words, how do we limit emerging silos of activity streams and enable a worker-centric view of the information and content that interest them the most? There are architectural challenges in capturing activities, distilling this flood of events into something useful for the worker, and surfacing them within a context where it can complement individualized flows of work.
Subscribers to Gartner for Technical Professionals (GTP) can read more about the Post-2.0 era and the Social Online Workplace in a recently published report available here. If your company is a Gartner customer you may already be able to access this and other GTP reports. To see if you do, contact your company’s Gartner Membership Administrator. If you do not know who that is ask Gartner.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: collaboration, enterprise 2.0, social networks, social online workplace
by Larry Cannell | July 12, 2011 | Comments Off
If you attended, or were following, the Enterprise 2.0 conference a few weeks ago you are probably aware that Cisco is starting to make a big push into the enterprise collaboration market with Quad. Although the product has officially been available for about a year, many IT professionals still don’t know much about Quad. However, they are keenly interested in understanding what Cisco is doing in this space, especially given the company’s already large footprint in most enterprises.
Earlier this year I had an opportunity to take an extensive look into Quad’s architecture and technical building blocks as well as to talk with the people responsible for the product’s future. Our resulting assessment of Quad is a detailed, roll-up-your-sleeves type of report Burton IT1 is known for. If you need to really know what the heck Quad is (beyond the marketitecture), this is the report for you.
Since Quad’s first appearance at the Enterprise 2.0 conference last year, Cisco has been deploying the product at a select number of customers and working on a new release (which was recently announced). At first glance, Quad appears to be an unremarkable and simple enterprise social network product. However, Quad’s role within an enterprise and its potential impact on the collaboration market goes well beyond providing a social network site.
Cisco Quad could become just what the enterprise collaboration market needs: a competitive product from a large vendor with deep pockets and strong ties throughout most IT organizations. Quad 2.5 is a good start, although it should still be considered an early release product (belying its 2.5 version label). Most importantly though, Quad is built upon a different set of assumptions from which large established enterprise vendors started. Think of Quad as an alternative take on what is possible with an enterprise collaboration platform. In many ways, SharePoint’s popularity has distorted the market’s view and Quad is a possible antidote.
This Burton IT1 assessment of Quad discusses:
- Cisco’s potential as a collaboration platform competitor
- Quad’s role in an enterprise
- How Quad compares to SharePoint and other major vendor products
- Quad’s strengths (it offers a number of innovative features and uses a cutting-edge approach to deployment and management)
- Quad’s weaknesses (but, there is still plenty of work to be done and it may not be ready for your enterprise)
In addition, the assessment uses IT1 frameworks and reference architecture templates as a basis to cut through Cisco’s marketing to provide a vendor-neutral opinion of the product. “Cisco Quad: Different From SharePoint, But Does That Matter?” is available now to Gartner’s Burton IT1 customers.
If you aren’t an IT1 customer then you may be interested in attending my session covering Quad at the Catalyst Conference taking place in San Diego in two weeks. We can also schedule a 1-1 session while at Catalyst to talk through our findings.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: cisco, collaboration, quad, sharepoint
by Larry Cannell | July 6, 2011 | Comments Off
There is less than three weeks to go until this year’s Catalyst Conference, taking place July 26-29, in San Diego. Catalyst is a favorite technology conference among many IT professionals because of its detailed and high-quality presentations, opportunities to talk with independent (and opinionated) analysts, and unmatched peer networking opportunities.
We have a number of sessions at Catalyst this year focusing on enterprise social software:
- Roundtable: What Your Peers Are Doing About Social Networking. I will be leading a group discussion where participants can learn from each other. Attendees are expected to share their opinions of social software and any lessons they may have learned from applying it within their enterprise (e.g., where it has been applied, what worked, and what didn’t).
- How and Why the Social Software Market Has Changed (Larry Cannell). Facebook is setting the standard for how people expect to socialize online. This massive disruption is an opportunity for new products to enter the market and for existing vendors to change their stripes and target a new audience. In addition, the widespread deployment of Microsoft SharePoint (which comes with social capabilities of its own) adds to this confusing mix of options.
- The Risks and Rewards of Mobile Social Networking (Darin Stewart). Social networking and mobile computing are experiencing explosive growth. The always-on, always-connected nature of mobile devices makes them a natural complement to the up-to-the-minute status appetites of social media devotees. By understanding the mobile social media landscape, technology leaders can prepare to address the increasingly complex demands of their untethered but still connected user communities.
- End-User Case Study: Enabling Business Value through Social Networking (Luke Dahl, Jet Propulsion Laboratory). JPL has deployed an internal collaboration and social networking platform to enable users to find people and information to improve efficiencies and create business value. This session will cover the architecture necessary to support this, lessons learned, and how it aligns with our enterprise strategy.
- How Cisco Quad is Different from SharePoint and Why You Should Care (Larry Cannell). Cisco is entering the enterprise social software market at an opportune time with the release of Quad. Social networking has become the most popular online activity and collaboration platforms originally rooted in documents are showing their age. Given Cisco’s relationship with nearly every enterprise and the deep resources it can call upon, Quad is a product that IT professionals should understand when the Cisco marketing engine kicks in.
- End User Case Study: Enterprise-class Social Networking, We’re Not in Farmville Any More (David Sacks, Yammer). An emerging class of products, coming from both established vendors (e.g., Salesforce or Tibco) and relative newcomers (e.g., Socialcast, Socialtext, or Yammer), is enabling the creation of Facebook-like sites that integrate business application information within a familiar flow of collaborative interaction. In this session David Sacks, CEO and founder of Yammer, will discuss the standards and approaches necessary to provide these new "systems of engagement" that can socialize data and events managed by enterprise applications.
- Are Intranets Relevant Any More? (Craig Roth & Larry Cannell). In this age of sharing information through social networks, many corporate intranets seem like quaint 1990s holdovers. And when publishing on the formal intranet is tightly controlled, other channels such as document workspaces, wikis and discussion groups seem to be more vibrant and up-to-date. Director Larry Cannell and Managing Vice President Craig Roth will each take one side of the argument: Are intranets simply not relevant anymore?
I look forward to seeing you at the Catalyst Conference in San Diego, where the weather is always pleasant and the sessions and conversations are thought-provoking.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: cat11, social software
by Larry Cannell | July 5, 2011 | Comments Off
Now that the Enterprise 2.0 conference is over, what can you do to move these ideas forward? If you are in IT, this can be a difficult question. For one thing, we have already seen a long line of innovative collaborative technologies over the years. A few have been successful, while many others have looked promising but haven’t been as broadly adopted as originally expected. To make matters worse, the reaction from business management and workers towards using these technologies is often mixed. While some are downright enthusiastic about social software, others are skeptical or just plain too busy to bother. As a result, many IT environments have several collaborative technologies that all started out as good ideas but have fallen short of expectations.Therefore, why should we expect our experience deploying something like an enterprise social network, for example, will be any different?
This week, I would like to share with you ideas for helping IT take social software technologies forward in a free Gartner webinar.
Succeeding with enterprise social software is a tough problem and I don’t claim to have a silver bullet or a magic list for IT to follow (beware of blog posts listing 10 steps to success). However, in Burton IT1 we have a framework, called the Online Workplace Framework (OWF), which enables architects and strategists to break the challenge down into manageable pieces. In short, the OWF helps IT:
- Describe specific online workplace capabilities an organization needs (in terms that both the business and IT understands)
- Work with organizations to evolve their workplace capabilities
- Drive technology decisions based on these business needs (rather than guessing)
Simply put, the OWF is an approach for tailoring a workplace, or social software, technology strategy for a particular organization. So, instead of relying on a vendor to explain the value of social software, develop a strategy based on an organization’s workplace needs. As new technologies come out, you can then rationally assess their potential impact against your existing strategy rather than simply reacting to new marketing messages.
This Gartner webinar is free for anyone and is taking place Thursday, July 7 (9am and Noon ET). You can find details at this link.
Some introductory information about the OWF is already available online. While the the webinar will provide much more detail, the following blog posts contain background on the OWF.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: enterprise 2.0, owf, social software
by Larry Cannell | February 15, 2011 | Comments Off
From an architectural perspective, instant messaging provided us a glimpse at some of the essential capabilities that later proved important for social networks. Unfortunately, the sheer momentum of artificially defined market segments can stay around for years and cause us to not see this as an evolution of social engagement and simply continue viewing these features as, well, … just features. However, by taking a broader perspective and learning lessons from these experiences, we can now see how these social services are applicable beyond IM systems as well as social networks.
From Features to Services
What many of us once thought were critical features of instant messaging, turned out to be the building blocks of richer online social interactions (as exemplified by social networks such as Facebook). These social services include:
- A social graph: IM systems use buddy lists. Social networks have friends or connections. More importantly, social networks also allow us to describe relationships with other entities, such as groups or applications.
- The changing definition of presence: IM systems describe someone’s presence in terms of online/offline or free/busy. Social networks can describe a richer form of online presence that highlights what is happening within someone’s life at that moment (through their status messages), the groups they are involved in, and can also indicate interest and experience (based on who and what they interact with).
- Controlling how people can interact with us (also known as relation controls): IM systems can limit who is allowed to send us messages or see our presence. Social networks have privacy controls.
The lesson learned here is architects need to start thinking of features such as a social graph, presence, and relation controls as reusable services that can be leveraged by applications beyond instant messaging and social networks. This includes not only consuming these services, but also enriching them as well.
For example, there are many contexts within a business application (e.g., a customer in a CRM system or a bill of materials in a product release system) that could use or enrich these services. Business applications should:
- Provide contexts that participate within a social graph (e.g., employees who have worked with a particular customer or products that have used a particular part or component)
- Provide contexts that have a "presence" (e.g., the changing state of a BoM or comments posted by others in response to an event)
- Honor or contribute to relation controls (e.g., who has permission to monitor this customer or this BoM?).
Our IT1 Reference Architecture already details a number of aspects to consider with these reusable social services. Look for further revisions to explore these topics more fully throughout the year.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: instant messaging, presence, relation controls, social graph, social networks
by Larry Cannell | February 2, 2011 | Comments Off
Yesterday Google accused Microsoft of using the Bing Toolbar (an Internet Explorer add-on packaged with Windows Live Essentials) to collect information about what people are searching for and the pages they most commonly pick in the search results. This information is sent to Microsoft where it influences Bing search results. More details are available in the link at the end of this post.
Some initial thoughts:
- My first reaction was that this is "cheating." It certainly feels kind of slimey to think that what I search for (and the results I click on) in one search engine is being harvested by software running on my computer to influence another search engine.
- However, one company’s cheating is another company’s research. The question is, as consumers of a product, do we feel strongly enough about this practice to influence companies considering using these types of techniques? It could be argued that once Google presents these results within a browser it is public information and, if the user agrees, the search result selected can also be harvested.
- At one time crawling websites may have been considered cheating as well. Perhaps many in the news media still feel that way.
- I am surprised the public discussion has not turned towards privacy. Perhaps Google didn’t want to bring that into the discussion.
- What if Microsoft delivered this software as part of the Windows operating system? Would we feel differently about it?
- Would we feel different if Comcast owned a popular search engine and harvested this information from Internet traffic inspection?
Google has run a sting operation that it says proves Bing has been watching what people search for on Google, the sites they select from Google’s results, then uses that information to improve Bing’s own search listings. Bing doesn’t deny this.
Google: Bing Is Cheating, Copying Our Search Results
Category: Uncategorized Tags: google, microsoft, privacy, search
by Larry Cannell | February 1, 2011 | Comments Off
Distributed commenting systems for blogs and websites have been around for a few years but have not seen a huge uptake (relative to other popular services). With the potential of a distributed Facebook-based commenting system, there is speculation in the blogosphere over the future of distributed commenting pioneers such as DISQUS, livefyre, Echo, or IntenseDebate. Facebook’s entrance could build mainstream awareness of this type of capability and, in the short term, these early innovators will probably benefit from Facebook’s offering.
However, the longer term impact of Facebook Comments may be part of a slow chipping away at the dominance of blogging platforms provided by Google (Blogger) and Automattic (WordPress.com or self-hosted blogs running the open source WordPress.org blogging platform). Millions of blogs will now have the potential to send traffic to Facebook.
Facebook will be able to power the entire commenting system–handling the log-in and publishing, cross-promoting comments on individuals’ Facebook walls
Facebook’s next big media move: Comments | The Social – CNET News
Category: Uncategorized Tags: facebook, google, wordpress
by Larry Cannell | January 28, 2011 | 1 Comment
There has been lots of discussion in the blogosphere this week over the release of Tibbr, a new enterprise social network offering from Tibco. Many in the Enterprise 2.0 crowd are saying that Tibbr is the solution we have been waiting for and shows how social networks can be applied to the enterprise. While I agree in principle, most of these assessments of Tibbr have missed some key points.
For background, Tibbr provides a social network that also surfaces events coming from enterprise applications. Think Facebook, but instead of receiving messages from Farmville you see activities going on in enterprise applications. This is similar to Salesforce’s Chatter, where CRM-based events (e.g., a sale is closed or a customer requested a meeting) are surfaced in the social network’s activity stream. Tibbr extends this by surfacing events coming from multiple applications within an activity stream (not just CRM). Imagine a product development organization using a social network that includes events from their production release or warranty systems. A particular engineer’s activity stream might see events like "part xyz has been assigned a supplier" or "product abc has received an excessive number of complaints."
However, just focusing on the social networking aspect of Tibbr misses an important point. Tibbr has the opportunity to replace work already being done and not just be another well-intended collaborative environment that adds to already high workloads. If it hits its mark, Tibbr could be a product that sells itself to an enterprise worker (like an engineer) because they see it benefitting them personally, not just because they are told to collaborate.
For example, most product development engineers need to maintain an awareness of what is happening within their scope of responsibility. They may be tracking the status of several programs, while monitoring the release of products in various stages, and participating in a multitude of other activities in order to take action at the appropriate time. Life for the engineer (as with most knowledge workers) is a constant juggling act.
Unfortunately, most knowledge workers must use multiple applications to keep track of everything going on (to keep all of the balls in the air). These applications have been around a long time, have a narrow view of the world and, as a result, impose a significant amount of overhead on our engineer. Automated notifications (e.g. where an application sends e-mail when something significant happens) can be helpful but these easily get lost in the noise of a busy inbox. Surfacing application events within a social network could ease this overhead by putting them within the context of an environment an engineer uses everyday.
Tibbr won’t succeed because it is an easy-to-use social network (although, ease of use is critical and the social aspects of it will be valuable). It will succeed only if it takes work off the table for knowledge workers by bringing them the information they were going to have to retrieve anyway and it brings it to them in a familiar (Facebook) style.
Stowe Boyd is correct when he says "Social = Me First." From an enterprise perspective "me first" means giving me the information I need to do my job. One thing that separates enterprise from consumer social environments is that much of the information I need is locked in an application that was written twenty years ago.
In addition, architects should view Tibbr as a demonstration of what is necessary and possible within an enterprise social environment and not just focus on the Facebook-like interface it provides. Tibco’s application integration capabilities are part of the secret sauce behind Tibbr. Enablement of these types of environments require back-end application connectivity, which often needs some pretty heavy lifting to put in place. This is where an IT organization can make a huge difference. IT knows the data sources, manages the applications that generate it, and owns the architecture for distributing the data.
Lastly, these application connections should not just be available within a monolithic solution, like Tibbr. Rather, syndication of application events needs to come through standard protocols and formats (e.g., Activity Streams) to enable their reuse by the next breakthrough social software that the blogosphere falls in love with.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: activity streams, social networks, tibbr
by Larry Cannell | November 24, 2010 | 1 Comment
Two weeks ago Cisco hosted a Collaboration Summit for analysts, consultants, and partners in Phoenix, Arizona. Conference attendees were treated to great weather and fantastic food. Unfortunately, the conference was thin on content and light on vision. At the start of Padmasree Warrior’s keynote I was optimistic when she described Cisco “new workspace” vision involving:
The focus on “work” is of primary interest to me and has long been a perspective from which I approach social software and collaborative technologies. Warrior also said their collaboration vision involved tapping into popular consumer trends around social networks and mobile devices. However, what followed the next two days was disappointing from a vision perspective and seemed more of a confusing rationalization of a disjoint product portfolio; one based on an aspirational view of the world in which video plays a big part and where desktop virtualization saves the day for IT.
To be honest, I was mostly interested in hearing about Quad, Cisco’s entry into the enterprise social software market. Yet, there were no sessions discussing the product. However, on a positive note we heard of Cisco’s plan to launch Quad this week on their intranet for tens of thousands of their employees. Perhaps this exposure of social software within Cisco will enable it to gain a more prominent role in their collaboration strategy going forward. For now, it seems Cisco equates collaboration with video.
The two main talking points that Cisco presenters focused on last week were video and virtualization. A presentation didn’t seem complete until either or both topics were somehow injected into the story. For example, during the last presentation on Wednesday morning (the only full day of the conference) we learned how Cisco solved the problem of delivering video to a virtualized desktop environment. While this interested the technologist in me, it seemed like an odd choice for such a prime spot on an agenda at a collaboration summit (especially since there were no presentations dedicated to Quad).
In another example, on Thursday we were introduced to Cisco’s Social Miner. This a a product that watches social media streams for topics of interest and enables enterprises to detect and respond to tweets or blog posts. The session started out very well and identified multiple levels of social media engagement maturity. I would have liked to have gone deeper into each of these levels and how Social Miner addresses them. The topic quickly (far too soon in my opinion) shifted over to Cisco’s other customer contact products, which integrate with Social Miner. However, perhaps the strangest segue of the conference came during a demonstration of Social Miner when the speaker asked “How does video fit in to this?”
Cisco’s view is that video (and not just any video, “pervasive video” were the words often used) is an essential element of collaboration. I couldn’t disagree more. This is a message PictureTel was pitching thirteen years ago. While the picture quality is better and telepresence is able to capture a more nuanced meeting experience, the fact is most people do not like having a camera in front of them during a meeting (or any other time for that matter). Certainly video is taking up an increasing share of Internet bandwidth, but this is through the consumption of video, not the production of ad-hoc, collaborative video streams.
During a demonstration of how Cisco’s products could bring together four workers within an ad-hoc video-based meeting, the sharing of a fictional design drawing quickly became the primary focus, relegating all of the talking heads to a small part of the screen. To me, this demonstration was a metaphor for the relative importance of video within an online meeting. Audio is essential, screen sharing is valuable, but video is of secondary importance. Of course, there are many niche applications where video is critical (a customer story at the summit involving the use of video on drilling platforms was compelling). However, this hardly approaches the level of pervasive.
It’s not that enterprises do not have a need for creating video. I believe most probably do and, in my opinion, Cisco could make video creation a core part of an information worker’s toolkit. However, it wouldn’t be through pointing a camera at someone. Rather, it would be through screen recordings that capture presentations, demonstrations, or otherwise making it possible to provide rich, visually-appealing, data-focused videos (often called screencasts) and then make it easy to share these recordings with their colleagues. After all, video should be about visual communication, not just talking heads.
Category: Uncategorized Tags: cisco, collaboration, screencasts, video