Enterprise 2.0 Innovate 2012 Notes: The Right Way to Select Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise – Part Two

I am pleased to attend Enterprise 2.0 Innovate on the West Coast for the first time. Here are the second part of my notes from workshop:  The Right Way to Select Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise led by Tony Byrne, President Real Story Group. The first part is in the prior post below.

Tony began again with enterprise video management.  People often assume much of our collaboration is text based but this decreasingly not the case.  There can be issues if you do not plan correctly, For example, if you just put something on YouTube and send a link, everyone might go there at once and bring down your network.  Video is getting embedded more and more in enterprise communication.

The strategy in tool selection for media asset management is like that already covered in the prior post but with unique details. You look at the main use cases to determine what you need. In general, collaboration needs to trump workflow needs. Workflow is still needed but there now needs to be more possibilities for ad hoc collaboration on projects. More agility is needed now.

Next, we covered social media for monitoring, intelligence, and engagement. All of these aspects are key for working in today’s marketplace. A whole crop of new tools, mostly SaaS based, have emerged. These tools are based on text analytics. While this is the standard approach, I should mention the Darwin Awareness Engine™ and Tweather, based on Darwin technology, which are not based on text analytics, but rather Chaos Theory based algorithms to provide more biased free monitoring. These tools support human decision making versus machine decision making. As a disclosure, I have connections to these tools.

With text-based analytics, the app tries to extract meaning from massive amounts of text. What are the themes? What are the trends? Sentiment analysis is often employed but this is hard to do. Things like slang, ambiguity, cynical statements, and foreign languages get in the way. They tried to look at mentions about their our company. Real Story Group, and found about 70% accuracy.  Enterprises are often switching vendors in this space because of disappointment with the results. Some large companies use multiple vendors to compensation for the shortcomings.

Many of the monitoring apps are adding engagement capabilities. Workflow for responding is getting added and/or links to CRM systems are being implemented.  Key issues are: scalability, reliability & SLAs, entitlements, integration, and accuracy.  These tools do offer potential power so they should not be ignored. However, do not sign up for more that 6 months of service to see if you like the tool.

Tony next turned to mobile.  Mobile is on the rise, especially with the addition of tablets.  It is best to use a co-existence of multiple approaches.  There is a continuum from Web standards to custom native apps. It goes from Web standards to mobile style sheets, to scrape and transcode, to framework and middleware, to custom native apps.  The last two are useful with there is a lot of interactivity and high value. The first three are useful when the content tends to be read-only and lower fidelity.

If you use Responsive Design (RD) to simply modify the app to fit the reduced width of the mobile device, it can work for information only apps. However, for interactive apps it does not work as well. The RD approach assumes that the mobile app is just a subset of the content in the desktop app.

Tony offered a 2 x 2 to look at what the user is doing.  From right to left and down going counterclockwise on the 2 x 2: mobile productivity, mobile connectivity, field force automation, and desktop replacement. On the left are specific apps and on the right is a more complete experience. On the top are supplementary apps and on the bottom are primary interfaces to work.

Tony moved to a selection methodology. Selecting the right fit does not make success certain but it really helps. The key is not selecting the best in general but the right fit for you. You can go from requirements to: research, proposals, demos, proofing between your top choices, and then pilot before general implementation. Make sure you pick your test cases, not the vendors. You want to have an iterative test-based process.  Do not just pick based on demos. Put in a bake-off before tool selection. Then add pilots before implementation. This makes it longer to decision but faster to value.

I asked who pays for the bake off. Tony said that some vendors will do it but in large implementations where third parties are involved, you might have to pay for some of it at a discounted rate.  There might also be a “kill fee” for the loser as some reduced compensation. The bake off puts more demands on employees but it tests how much they want the solution. It also gives you more time to negotiate with the vendor.

When selecting tools, best to look at use cases and tools that emphasize use cases over features. Use an empirical approach to testing and selection.  If you go with a platform you are likely to spend more on services than software but you should get more specific value. Be sure to test the admin and system services and not simply to user experience.

I really liked this session and that is why there are so many notes.

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