Tag Archives: cloud

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.

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

I am pleased to attend Enterprise 2.0 Innovate on the West Coast for the first time. It is occurring November 12 – 15 in the Santa Clara Convention Center. Here my notes from this year’s Enterprise 2.0 2012 conference in Boston. Here are my notes from the workshop: The Right Way to Select Emerging Technologies for the Enterprise led by Tony Byrne, President Real Story Group. Here is the description.

“The accelerating pace of enterprise technology change offers unprecedented opportunities – along with major stress — for business and IT leaders alike.  Business units looking to exploit new opportunities presented by emerging technologies has given rise to “Shadow IT” and the broad proliferation of tools and suppliers in the enterprise.  Obvious gains in short-term agility have been accompanied by longer-term architectural and sustainability challenges. Designed for enterprise architects, IT planners, and tech-savvy business leaders, this workshop will help you get out in front of emerging technologies.  It will offer you tools to pro-actively identify which technologies will bring the most business value in your specific environment, as well as the savvy to avoid common pitfalls. The workshop will examine the challenge and benefits of emerging technologies in particular technology segments where business and IT interests overlap – and sometimes come into conflict.”

Prior to the session Tony and I were talking about tools used to support SharePoint. I had seen a survey that reported that the top three tools to support social in SharePoint were Yammer at 19%, Newgator at 10%, and Jive at 4%. Tony mentioned that there are three ways to supplement SharePoint in the social space. You can extend it by building your own. You can supplement it through tools like Newsgator, and you can complement it with tools like Yammer and Jive. I found this distinction very useful.

Tony said he is going to offer a means to select technologies for the enterprise. This is the mission of Real Story Group. They only work with customers of vendors and not the vendors themselves, giving them more independence.  There are four traditional approaches to selecting software that often do not work. First, love at first sight. Second, horse race approach – who is leading in the magic quadrant. Third, my cousin Vinne approach – my friend uses it so it must be good. Fourth is happiness is a strong set of requirements. So you create a big checklist.

The best way is to embed your selection within you own unique requirements. You need to get out in front of emerging business needs.  You need to identify common areas where business units are self-procuring to find common solutions. You also need to understand the business use cases.

He began with a discussion of the transition from the intranet to the digital workplace. The consumerization of IT relates to this.  People come to work not excited about their tools but focused on their tasks. The digital workplace goes way beyond traditional intranets to offer many more capabilities that focus on getting work tasks done.

There are two ways to look at this. There is the traditional enterprise architecture approach. The second way is the user experience approach or “glass backwards.”  This bottom up view is increasingly more important.  You need to do both. The bottom up approach often leads to self-procurement if the enterprise IT services do not meet their needs. Activity streams that are emerged in the work process can be very useful like Salesforce Chatter for Salesforce users. However, this can led to siloed activities.

Next Tony covered platforms vs. products. Consumerization of IT means that apps need to be simpler and more agile. There are a whole range of offerings that vary from comprehensive platforms to simple individual products. Microsoft published some data that for every dollar spent on SharePoint, 6 – 9 dollars were spent on services, making SharePoint a platform, not a product. Platforms are more costly but also more comprehensive. With enough time and money you can get SharePoint to do almost anything. This opens up a lot of business for the system integrators. With products, tools work right away.

Tony passed out a very useful product map using the subway system metaphor. You can download it from the Real Story site for free. He said that ROI justifications are growing each year. There are four main categories, revenue creation, increased productivity, reduce costs, increased culture. Software companies now tend to do better on only one or two.

He offered eleven standard use cases for social technologies.  No one is doing all of them nor is any vendor capable of supporting all of them. Two main groups of use cases are collaborate (work jointly) and network (connect outside a specific goal).  This is more of a continuum than a distinction. He offered some examples. The first was a Q&A app designed to help employees find answers to their questions. The second was ideation and innovation support. Next, was project-oriented collaboration. There are also knowledge management, external collaboration, communities, expertise location, enterprise networking, socializing legacy processes, and enterprise conversation.  These uses cases seem to be a better way to evaluate tools that features like blogs, wikis, etc. This is true especially, if you pick the use cases that are important to your organization.

Entitlements are another important issue. Who is allowed to do what? Groups and roles are often as important as individuals in these access. This is important for scaling in a large enterprise.

He showed social as a separate tab in an enterprise stack. This is too isolated. Social should be a service and not a space. I agree. Social should be a layer and not a module. Activity streams that range over all apps can serve this purpose.  Several vendors are attempting to do this but more progress needs to be made. A key question is how these apps work in a mobile environment. The integration needs to carry over to mobile and it often does not.  The big vendors want to own the whole stack but this will be hard to do.

There are four buckets: platforms, suites, layers, and specialists. In the platforms Microsoft is good at collaboration, IBM on communities and expertise location, and Oracle on socializing legacy processes. Since the big guys do not cover all use cases, there is a rise of specialists to cover the soft spots. IBM is also trying to embed Connections capabilities in some of their other enterprise apps.

Tony next covered versions of the cloud: IaaS, PaaS, SaaS, and managed hosting.  Tony mentioned that most apps are not built for the cloud. For example, Microsoft SharePoint was not built this way originally.  So there is a hybrid model as to what gets shared and what does not.  Microsoft decided to move their own stuff to the cloud. It got very complex with many custom apps to get to the hybrid model. It cost as much as they saved. A big issue is the fact that most transitions are not in a green field environment so there is much old stuff to overcome.  If you do have a green field, like some small businesses, it is easier. For very large enterprises, it gets more complex.

Now there are also cloud file sharing vendors like Drop Box, Google Apps, and Box. Some companies turn off these capabilities on enterprise systems to deny access. In these cases, people go home and use them on their own devices outside enterprise security because they are easier to use than tools like SharePoint. IT cannot stop this. This raises a lot of security issues.  Individuals have access but the enterprise cannot get access unless it signs an enterprise agreement with the vendor. It is important for IT to get in front of this issue so the right tool gets selected with an enterprise view and not just what happens bottom up. The use cases are a good way to start. Box and Accellion cover a lot of them.  Box is cloud only. Accellion offers cloud, hybrid, and on-premise.

Next we took a break and there is enough to read in one post so I will continue this soon in a second post.

Box Provides Comprehensive Collaboration and Extensive Application Integration to Enhance its Content Management Offering

Box provides secure online content management and has been getting a lot of press recently. I covered Box a few years ago (see Box.net Updates Interface and Becomes More Social) but much has happen since then, so it was great to speak with Jeremy Glassenberg, Platform Manager at Box to get an update.

Jeremy’s role involves planning for new developer tools and API methods. He also works on partner integrations and helps to support customers on internal integration projects.

Jeremy Glassenberg, Platform Manager at Box.com

I first asked Jeremy for his perspective on the market excitement that Box has generated. He said that Box offers a good solution to a lot of customers. It makes it easy to move content to the cloud in a secure manner and provides a means for collaboration around this content.  Box has developed a good system for customer feedback to continue to update the product.

In addition, their CEO, Aaron Levie, has gained a reputation as a great industry spokesperson who brings a lot of fun to his communication; so his presence has enhanced their press coverage. On Twitter, Aaron describes himself as the Lead Magician (and CEO). A sampling of his tweets confirms the fun factor.

We next dove a bit more into the Box offering.

Box in the Cloud files

Box was started in 2005 as a file storage system but has grown well beyond that initial capability.  There is an intuitive interface that allows you to send links to stored content in a secure manner. Box also provides collaboration capabilities around stored content. For example, a team can have their own folder and provide comments on content, assign tasks, and most recently, provide feedback through a new “like” function. Box is also integrated into numerous mobile apps, desktop apps and web services.

I asked Jeremy to expand on their integration strategy.

He said that Box wants to be accessible anywhere a user needs them so integration is an important component of the company’s strategy. He sees three types of integrations.
  • First there are partners with their own platforms, where Box has built and continues to maintain the integrations. Those integrations are under a continuous cycle of review and iteration.
  • Second, Box provides support for an external developer community working with the Box API for a wide range of integrations.
  • And finally, there are Enterprise customers who have their own integration needs using Box services.
Box in JIRA – link, preview, edit your Box documents, all from JIRA

AppFusions worked with Box to develop packaged integrations with Atlassian Confluence and JIRA. For the Confluence integration, users can access, preview, embed, edit, upload, and monitor Box activity – all from Confluence (video | listing). The JIRA integration allows for JIRA issues to be linked to Box files directly, as well as previewed, edited, or downloaded, while never leaving JIRA (video | listing).

The integrations are available via Box Apps, and Atlassian Marketplace. AppFusions will also be releasing their Box integrations with Atlassian OnDemand, expected later this calendar year.

Jeremy said he was impressed with both the technical competence and depth of AppFusions’ integrations. He also spoke of the also good attention to the user experience, creating UIs that make sense for the business users.

Box’s success is another validation of the mass migration to the cloud. If you can provide a secure application, business relevant features, and extensive integration capabilities, CIOs and other enterprise leaders will overcome their concerns and make the move to the cloud for its nimble and cost-effective qualities.