Tag Archives: Alfresco

Highlights of IDC’s Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012 Vendor Analysis

IDC has released its Worldwide Enterprise Social Software 2012 Vendor Analysis. I received a copy thanks to Igloo Software. Companies covered included: BlueKiwi Inc, Cisco Systems, Inc., harmon.ie, IBM, IGLOO Inc., Jive Software, Moxie Software, Inc., Mzinga Inc, NewsGator Technologies Inc, Oracle Corporation, Salesforce.com, Inc., SAP AG, Socialcast, Inc., Socialtext Inc., Telligent Systems Inc., tibbr, VMware, Inc., Yammer, Inc. The reports evaluates and compares these vendors. In the post I will look at the cross industry movements that IDC offers.

IDC concludes that the “increasing sophistication of use cases demonstrates that the market for enterprise social software is maturing quickly. Organizations are looking to engage internal users and customers in an ongoing conversation, inside and outside the firewall. As usage increases in breadth and depth, activity streams, discussion forums, blogs, and wikis are becoming assumed functionality of enterprise social software to facilitate collaboration in real time and in context.” I would certainly agree with this assessment.

Application integration is increasingly becoming a success factor. IDC notes that “Customers are demanding broader and more specific collaboration scenarios that tie together internal and external constituents, deliver sophisticated insight into user behavior on the network, and extend seamlessly across mobile form factors.” These seamless extensions and the connection of internal and external constituents requires comprehensive integration that is designed to address business objectives.

Their key success criteria include: the ability to extend activity streams, blogs, and wikis to a broad range of stakeholders. The optimization of the mobile experience, comprehensive analytics that can “perform behavioral and predictive analysis on data generated by the network,” a scalable platform that can extend to customers, and partners, as well as handle different roles, company sizes and industries, and “prepackaged integrations with collaboration tools and major enterprise application vendors delivered via the cloud.”

We certainly agree with all of these factors, especially the prepackaged integrations. This is the goal of AppFusions and its suite of prepackaged integrations. For example, we have a number of integrations of Altassian’s issue tracking tool, JIRA, with a variety of collaboration platforms such as IBM Connections, JiveConfluenceAlfresco, Box.com, Google Drive, Dropbox, etc.

IDC notes that such social tools as activity streams and blogs are becoming required functionality within the enterprise. As social tools mature beyond initial marketing applications, use cases have grown into such areas as customer experience, sales enablement, digital commerce, socialytics, innovation management, and enterprise social networks.

The latter use case provides a means to find relevant information and people through connecting people, data, and systems in an overarching system. Collaborative workspaces are the outcome and the foundation for the connected enterprise.

Enterprise adoption of the new enterprise social software is on the rise. There has been as 40% year-over-year market growth. In this current survey 67% of organizations have implemented a corporate-sponsored enterprise social software solutions. While there are standalone solutions, many vendors have moved to more open and connected offerings through the use of APIs. This allows social software to be embedded within work processes, a topic I have covered before (for example, see Putting Social Media to Work and Giving Social Media a Good Job)

IDC concludes that “enterprise social software will eventually become the backbone of the ESN for a number of reasons.” This is being fueled by the recognition that connecting employees, customers, and partners is key to success. As McKinsey found, “higher operating margins (again, self-reported) than competitors correlated with a different set of factors: the ability to make decisions lower in the corporate hierarchy and a willingness to allow the formation of working teams comprising both in-house employees and individuals outside the organization.” Collaborative technologies create more agile organizations and these companies achieve higher profits.

In 2012 IDC expects to see enterprise applications and other collaborative applications being upgraded to include social functionality or becoming integrated with enterprise social software solutions in a complementary fashion.

It is an exciting time and we are pleased to be part of it thorough application integrations.

Success with Social in Business: Review of Socialized! by Mark Fidelman

Happy New Year! Thought we’d start out the New Year with a power hitter on demystifying the wild world of social media – that is, for business.

What’s the tricks,  the secrets, the behind the scene aspects, and a whole slew of other obvious and not so obvious nuances that we think are good and godly advice in this  social marketing entrenched world that we all live in. Whether you like it, agree with it, do it, or not – one thing is sure: it’s here to stay, so we’d suggest, get on the train, or the train will leave the depot (or has already) without you!

To do this, AppFusions (and in particular me – Bill) was fortunateto receive a review copy of Mark Fidelman’s new book Socialized!  How the World’s Most Successful Businesses Are Harnessing the Power of Social. Mark is a a Forbes blogger and seasoned executive with many years and experience in the industry of social business. (More information on the book is also here.)

Mark Fidelman

In this very useful book, Mark presents the strategies and tactics of the world’s best social business organizations, including IBM, Microsoft, Salesforce.com, Google, JetBlue, and several small businesses.

Mark also offers a playbook that businesses can use today to make effective use of social business practices. In fact, McKinsey has predicted that there is over a trillion dollars in benefits waiting for those organizations who properly use social business practices so this is a worthwhile goal to pursue.

The book includes how to create and nurture a high performing “digital village” or internal social network. It also offers ways to connect with your “digital network” and build a community of brand advocates. It then includes how to manage a sales and marketing funnel with a social wrapper.

I asked Mark what motivated Mark to write the book?  He replied:

The majority of senior executives I meet are feeling a stinging sense of urgency that their businesses must adopt a true social business model if they are to remain relevant, sustainable and profitable.  However, most simply don’t know how to go about it.

I wrote Socialized! to give businesses a roadmap for capturing the power of social inside the organization and out.

Mark makes the very important point that successful social business starts inside your organization.

With the initial emphasis on social media marketing, this has often been overlooked as a crucial step toward social business success.

  • First, there are many internal efficiencies that can be realized by socializing business processes and these are part of the trillion that McKinsey counts.  Putting social media to work inside the organization is a topic I have often discussed (see, for example, Giving Social Media a Good Job).
  • Second, a focus on external social business alone, without an internal social business component, will not make the necessary transformation of the business culture to realize both the external and internal benefits. This crucial link is often coined/termed: “social business”.

There’s much debate out there on what’s the difference between ‘social business’ and ‘enterprise 2.0’, in terms of terms (for example, here on Quora) – and we won’t go into that debate here, but in short, both are about collaboration, bringing it together: people, systems, and processes, whether internal  external, or both.

Mark provides ten rules that are essential to build a culture achieve a closely connected business culture, or, as he refers to it, a “digital village.”  Developing this digital village mentality allows for the creation and sharing of critical content across the enterprise. Aspects include: employees, management, operations, processes, workflow, technology, strategy, standards, and governance. It requires the updating of structures, processes, and workflow and making the investments to ensure these efforts succeed.

I am glad that Mark includes technology. Too often, people say, “well, it is not about the technology, but the people.”

Actually it is about both. For the connected enterprise or digital village to work, you certainly have to have the right culture in place. AND you also have to have the applications integrated so there are actually connections within the digital workflow. This second fact is often overlooked and then you end up with a bunch of frustrating silos.

Mark offers eight requirements for the digital village. These include developing a code of conduct and realigning the village to make it a social environment. Then you need to deploy social platforms to support the infrastructure of the digital village.

This is where application integration comes into play. Now you can leverage the collective intelligence of the village. To make it real you also need training and a more human focus to HR.

Finally, analytics need to be put into place to gauge the health of the digital village and make adjustments. Benefits need to be spread across the organization.

Once the internal digital village is in place you can turn toward to market with a unified force. The term “markets as conversations” introduced ten years ago though the Cluetrain Maninfesto remains highly relevant. Communities become one of the main platforms for these conversations. Mark contrasts old model behavior that was centered around onward communication and the new model of actual exchanges.

I asked Mark, “What are the most critical things for organizations do to become socialized in an effective way?”

He replied with the following three points.

  • Connect and empower thought leaders.  ” I can’t emphasize enough that traditional marketing is dead.  Your customers don’t trust your advertising as much as they do the individuals they have been following for years, so make it a priority to build reciprocal relationships with influencers.   Once you’ve connected with them, you can work together to talk about the pains your customer community is experiencing, which your product can solve.”
  • Build or join an external community.  “Building an external community around your brand is one of the most powerful things you can do to positively impact sales, create goodwill, and generate ideas. It’s also an effective feedback vehicle. Imagine thousands of people discussing topics related (and sometime unrelated) to your products every day.Your community is answering support questions, helping other members with career aspirations, or just networking.  If your brand or product does not yet have enough authority to build a community around it, and if there is already a robust and thriving community where your customers are hanging out, then by all means join it. If your competitor is running it, you’ll need to create a community around another subject related to your product.”
  • Build internal online communities. “To support an adaptive organization, employees need to connect, share, and expand on ideas. This is a critical part of becoming a more social, adaptive organization. Employees must have the ability to share insight with each other easily and visibly. Imagine a professional sports team that doesn’t practice or share information about the opposing team. Indeed, imagine a sports team that doesn’t review its game tape. How effective would they be long term?”

There is much more including the rise of the social employee and a playbook to support and engage this employee.

The book is rich in practical examples and guidelines. I certainly recommend it to anyone embarking on a social business program.

Check it out for yourself on Amazon here!

 

Alfresco Continues to Enhance Its Content Management Offering, Enabling More Integration Touchpoints

Alfresco provides open source enterprise content management serving a variety of use cases. I covered them earlier in the year (see: Alfresco Brings its Open Source Document Management to the Cloud). Recently I spoke with Jeff Potts, their Chief Community Officer, to get an update and to go into their integration strategy in more depth.

Jeff Potts, Chief Community Officer, Alfresco

As Chief Community Officer, Jeff leads the Alfresco community. This includes partners, employees, developers, customers, and anyone else with an interest in Alfresco.  Indeed this is a large order, with over 200K downloads, and growing, of their content management server software to date – so that’s a large community.

Jeff focuses on the health of the community and makes sure it has the right tools, tutorials, forums, blog aggregation, wikis, and whatever else is useful to support collaboration and continue its growth. He also conducts outreach to other relevant communities to expand its awareness and participation.

The Alfresco open source offering is built on a repository for files of all types: documents, audio, video, images, and other types. Expanded access is made possible through its API using CMIS, an industry standard that is also used by other tools such as SharePoint and Documentum. CMIS uses “Web services and Web 2.0 interfaces to enable information sharing across content management repositories from different vendors.”

There are several applications that Alfresco has added on top of their repository. Share is a main one and it allows for users to share documents, calendars, links to support collaboration. In addition to collaboration and content management, use cases for Alfresco include records management and digital asset management.

Alfresco provides an on-premise Enterprise version of their software that is offered with support subscriptions. There is also a free community version available through the LGPLv3 open source license.  This year they have added a multi-tenant SaaS offering. This relieves clients of any hosting responsibilities so they can focus on organizing and using their content, not supporting the backend. Both the on-premise and SaaS version (cloud) have the same software and user interface.

With the cloud version, users can share content within the same domain since it is a multi-tenant offering. The cloud version also has a few less features at the moment, as basic document management is the primary use case. So the calendar, blogs, and wikis are not enabled at the moment. There are plans to make them also available in the cloud version in the future.

Next we discussed the Alfresco’s integration strategy.

Alfresco’s goal is to make Alfresco as open and available as possible. They want any interested developer to be able to work in the tools they are comfortable with to connect to the repository and create integrations. To enable this availability they have built APIs for both the on-premise and cloud versions.  While CMIS covers such functions as create, read, update, delete, Alfresco wanted a richer experience, so they added additional features to the API specific to Alfresco such as rating and comments.

AppFusions has worked with Alfresco to create integrations with Atlassian’s JIRA issues tracking tool and Confluence wiki. Both integrations are plugin and play, and provide seamless integration with Alfresco document management capabilities.

  • Alfresco in JIRA

    The JIRA integration allows Alfresco documents to be accessed, previewed, linked, edited, and downloaded – all from inside JIRA. Here’s a video.

  • The Confluence integration allows users to embed and access Alfresco file lists. Users can also preview, embed, print, download Alfresco files from Confluence.
    Alfresco in Confluence, v3.0 – List Macro

    Finally, when you edit an Alfresco document in Confluence, you are able to edit it in your favorite local Office application (MS Office, Apache Open Office, NeoOffice), and when done – the file is auto-magically saved back to Alfresco. Here’s a video.

AppFusions also has a Alfresco to Crowd authenticator, allowing for SSO (single sign-on) and user management of Atlassian and Alfresco via Crowd.

Collectively, these integrations really bring powerful platforms and brands, together. Best of worlds!

Alfresco has also recently released support for iOS and Andriod to enable developers to build mobile app integrations.  They are also expanding CMIS client-side libraries to better work with what Alfresco offers.

Alfresco has its third annual user conference, DevCon, coming up in November. This year the European version will be in Berlin, November 6 and 7. The US version will be in San Jose November 14-15.

The conferences will include technical workshops by Alfresco engineers and partners, case examples by users, and keynotes by the Alfresco leadership team. Both conferences will be preceded by a day of workshops for those new to Alfresco so they can more thoroughly engage with the event.

Jeff sees the use of the cloud continuing to expand and I would certainly agree. Alfresco will continue to offer more capabilities through the cloud. As CMIS becomes more widely used, they will make more CMIS-related tools available.

Alfresco is certainly moving in the right direction, hitting three of the main themes in the application marketplace with its expanding capabilities in social, mobile, and the cloud.