Tag Archives: Enterprise

Enterprise 2.0 Innovate 2012 Notes: Living the Hybrid Enterprise

I am pleased to attend Enterprise 2.0 Innovate on the West Coast for the first time. It is occurring November 12 – 15 in 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: Living the Hybrid Enterprise: How to Plan for, Implement, and Manage a Mixed On-Demand and On-Premise Enterprise, led by Josh Greenbaum, Principal, Enterprise Applications Consulting. Here is the workshop description.

“The end of software never happened, but the end of the pure on-premise enterprise is upon us. More and more companies are looking to create a hybrid enterprise that combines the best of on-premise and on-demand software and services. This workshop will help companies identify the right mix of people, process, technology, software and services to help them get started with building and living in a hybrid enterprise.

Defining the Hybrid Enterprise: tales from the front line. The first part of the workshop will showcase examples of hybrid enterprises and discuss the benefits and challenges of a hybrid strategy. Included will be real world examples of how companies mix and match their on-demand and on-premise software and services to meet their business objectives.

 The role of new and old technology in the hybrid enterprise.

This second part of the workshop provided guidance on how companies can evaluate the role of existing and new technologies, software, and services in the hybrid enterprise. This included guidance on how to manage the hybrid opportunity for existing suite and best of breed software as well new and emerging technologies in mobility, analytics, and other key areas.

The hybrid enterprise and the human component. Creating a hybrid enterprise isn’t just a technology decision, it also requires new thinking and processes about how to deploy human resources – both internal and external – in new and different ways. This final part of the workshop will help companies understand the challenges and opportunities that are part of the human element of the hybrid enterprise.”

Josh began open the session that will be a three-part event with panels. First, living in the hybrid enterprise, then implementing the hybrid enterprise, and finally the human factors issues in dealing with the hybrid enterprise. The hybrid enterprise has been a continuous evolution. The cloud started over a dozen years ago.  On-premise and on-demand were kept separate.  We have come a long way in our thinking. However, there are still multiple silos of disconnected functionality. There needs to be a hybrid world with connectivity and integration.

The hybridization of IT is also creating a more hybrid workspace.  There is more accessibility to people and content that is location independent. This will be a PowerPoint free session and I like this approach. However, I may have some name spellings wrong with the absence of PowerPoint and did not get everyone’s name.

Charlene Woo from Varian offered her company as a case example first. Charlene’s company started in the 1940s as one of the first companies in the Silicon Valley and it does medical technologies and is growing. They are a big SAP shop so much technology is on-premise. They recently expanded into talent management solutions. The business wanted the cloud solution and picked SucessFactors. Then SuccessFactors was bought by SAP.  So now they need to support a hybrid solution.

They already had some cloud solutions such as their learning management system but the talent management was the biggest so far.  They have recently gone live with several SuccessFactors modules that are cloud based.  The entre company is using both could and hybrid.  The cloud apps are actually more widespread than the on-premise apps because of the reach of their content. The SuccessFactors system and the learning management system are used by all employees, and even some business partners.

Their mission critical apps such as finance and sales are still on-premise. Their cloud-based talent management apps are fed with employee data from the employee data from the on-premise SAP system. Right now this is a one-way data flow.  They want to move to a more two-way flow.  The impact of moving to the cloud solution has more of an impact on IT than on end users. This is a cultural change for IT. The IT people were used to supporting SAP, and now they were giving up some of the support to the cloud vendor.

There is now a change management concern and insecurity on the part of many IT people. What will happen next?  At the same time, if IT does not meet the business needs, the business will not partner with internal IT and get their own solution. IT needs to adopt new skills and play a different role. They cannot dictate the technology any more.  IT cannot insist on on-premise anymore. There is also a need for new skills. They did implement SuccessFactors with internal staff.

Now HR plays a stronger role in supporting the cloud application rather than IT. HR needed to come up with the resources for this.  This requirement needs to be planned for. They have moved from a recipient of services to a provider. HR is enjoying the freedom of choice that this responsibility brings. However, this additional requirement for resources did not sink in until the system went live.  IT needs to play a leadership role in letting the business anticipate these new requirements.

Working with a cloud vendor is different than working with internal IT. The outside vendor may not know the company culture and goals. They also have different agendas. This requires good oversight of the vendor. IT can play a role here. Need to have a three way partnership of internal IT, internal business unit, and external vendor. IT can add value here.

Next, a three-part panel covered more of the details on hybrid solutions. There

was someone from Box (Dan O’Leary). He works with clients on custom solutions. The next person works for e2open (David Hale) that provides software that support large clients with supply chain solutions like IBM and Boeing. The third person works for Cognizant (Gareth Patterson). He focuses on the strategy of cloud.

Josh asked the panel how to get the cloud connected within the enterprise. What are some of the issues for enterprise versus consumer solutions? The Box guy said the product is easy to launch so the technology is not the hard part. It is more issues like governance that take time. Also how does Box fit within the enterprise stack?

The e2open guy said there service is on-demand and it serves mission critical tasks. So if it goes down, they hear about it quickly.  Single sign on is one key for them, as well as security. Also, how does their service integrate with other enterprise apps?

The Cognizant guy mentioned that many cloud apps have up to 80 integration points. This is a complex task. These integration points can be a major challenge. Do not underestimate this task. Also, you need oversight so large hosting bills do not get run up without an awareness.

The Box guy said their goal is to be the enterprise content layer. That drives their cloud strategy. Each organization needs to keep their main strategy in mind when dealing with the cloud.

The e2open guy tried to explain the cloud to his son and his wife mentioned time-sharing from 40 years ago. This stuff is not new. Users should not have to care where a service is located. The panel agreed that there are hybrid aspects to most situations.  This reminds me of how Fats Domino said that rock and roll was just a new marketing strategy for rhythm and blues. This is the case for many technology “changes” and yet, at the same time, there are some new aspects, new audiences, and some new contexts just as there was with rock and roll.

The Box guy said one important issue is how to classify data and content as what needs to be secure. This is especially an issue with the type of unstructured data that Box supports.  Their clients need to do this. When new employees come to Box, the first thing they get is a two-hour security briefing.  They also let their clients know about the risks within the cloud.  The e2open guy that they specify that certain types of data should not be sent to then to put in the cloud. The Box guy said that one of their main use cases is to replace Drop Box when there has been a security leak.

The Box guy said there is a Cloud Security Alliance that has certification criteria. It’s mission statement is to “To promote the use of best practices for providing security assurance within Cloud Computing, and provide education on the uses of Cloud Computing to help secure all other forms of computing.”

The Cognizant guy said that in his company no one monitors his Drop Box and his Box usage is monitored.  Josh said there is only so much you can do for security and people can go around safe guards if they want to do this.  The Box guy talked the balance of ease of use and security. First, he said do not compare to perfect but to alternatives. Box allows clients to control access. Personally, he has access to forty systems with single sign on but he also has three-factor security.

After the break, the Paul Brody, CTO of Social Communication Company (Sococo), demoed a team collaboration space that provides for ongoing virtual connection.  Sococo Teamspace. We can see all of his colleagues on the right and their status. You can see a map of their company in a virtual space and see where everyone is located.  There are individual offices and conference rooms.

Everyone has an avatar and it tells you about the state of the person. For example, if you put on your headset that means you are available for audio.  You can see when he is talking and how far the voice goes. He can close his door to let everyone knows they have to knock on his door to hear what he is saying. He brought someone into his office for a conversation just by tapping on his avatar.

With the virtual office you can see what everyone is doing all day long. If the door is open you can drop in on conversations. If the door is closed you have to knock.  The virtual office does not have to map to the actual physical office so you have freedom to design the virtual environment anyway you want. There can be private spaces that others cannot see.  It also works on the iPhone and they are working on other mobile devices.

You can share things on a screen in a virtual conference room. They can also integrate apps like Salesforce and Box.  Everyone in the room can see the screen and the content it portrays. This sharing can occur in an office or a conference room. The virtual space can be designed to reflect work flow with different rooms have names for steps in the workflow. Video can be portrayed, including the other people in the conversation.

Next, Tony Bryne from the Real Story Group and Gareth Patterson joined the Sococo guy to form a panel. Tony said the key issue is less the visualization of the environment but rather embedding the right communication services in the app.  United communications needs to be aligned to tasks. Tony liked the simplicity of the visualization in the Sococo app as that degree of realism might distract in the enterprise environment.

The Sococo guy said that communication services needs to be a layer that underlies all apps. I would agree. All communication tools are derivative of the telephone. They are transactional and you do not see context. We need new metaphors that is why they created their visualization.

Gareth said that there has been a shift in building a company toward pulling together services and starting quickly.  There is trend toward to good enough sooner rather than perfect that takes along time. Traditional IT wanted perfect which got in the way of possible.

The Sococo guy said that every new customer wants a pilot for 30 – 60 days. They can set up a pilot in a few minutes and they can quickly modify it.  So you can fail fast and refine what you need.

Josh said that the word culture keeps coming up. Tony said that we need to humanize the digital workplace. As software tools were developed it was often assumed that people were robots. This is why people go offline often. We need to make people more effective in their jobs rather than try to change their behavior.

Gareth said we need to redo corporate IT. People there are often bored because there are too many obstacles. Josh wondered if IT will shrink or shift. People do not say they do not need IT any more. Josh gave the example of the replacement of Wang word processors with PCs. Some people thought there would be no more secretaries. Actually some roles and skills simply shifted but headcount did not go down.

I was involved in a study of the office of the future for a pharma company that was moving its home office around the time this shift occurred. They were planning their resource requirements for the new location. The company did change and went from a one to one manager to secretary model to a dramatic reduction in the number of secretaries as they moved to a one secretary to many managers model. I am not sure this applies to IT but I do want to offer a counter to the analogy. I wonder how much the cloud and the rise of business self-service will affect corporate IT headcount. Maybe they will get jobs in the business units supporting self-service.

It was a useful panel that raised a lot of issues to consider.

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.

Scaling Social Business for the Real World

Dion Hitchcliffe has offered some very useful advice through his post, How To Scale Social Business For The Real World. He notes that the means to interact with customers have greatly expanded with the advent of social business.

However, it is not simply more channels, but qualitatively different types of channels.

The first major difference he writes about is the movement from containing engagement to enabling it. Dion writes about these new social channels, “Unlike the old narrowcast venues of phone and email, they are much more open, public, and participatory. They’re also less linear, harder to control, quite a bit messier, and significantly larger in size by any number of measures, including number of people, simultaneity (how many people talking at once), length of conversation, and complexity of conversation.”

This has created a quandary for some old-school types and an opportunity for those who recognize it.

The issue reminds me of the farmer in Nova Scotia who told me, “the weather is bad but if you like bad weather, it is good.” In this case customer communication has gotten complex and messy but it if you like complex and messy for the expanded options then this is a good thing. You just need to recognize and take advantage of it.

Dion explored some cases in his new book Social Business By Design and I recommend looking at it.

He writes that you need a clear strategy and effective leadership balanced by an evolving and adaptable plan for dealing with fast-emerging new engagement technologies.

To be successful, Dion writes that you need a continuous evolution of engagement within the organization. There are several characteristics. First, everyone in the organization needs to be fluent in engagement, even the many who only do customer engagement on a very part time basis. Second, you need to have workers dedicated to engagement such as community managers.

As my Merced Group partner, Catherine Shinners has written, the role of community manager has greatly risen in importance in the new world of social business. Third, you need a centralized listening capability and support for specialized de-centralization. Finally, the engagement process needs to match the organization. He adds that tools are not a strategy but they are vital for success.

I certainly agree with all these points. I would add one more that is certainly implicit in what Dion writes. You need an information architecture to support this engagement.

This architecture needs to be driven by the strategy, but it is a separate step that applies the strategy to technology.

One of the keystones of this architecture is the ability to share content across the multiple tool sets that are now available and are actively used with organizations. This is why we at AppFusions focus on application integrations.

For example,

  • is your issue tracking tool integrated with your collaboration tools to both share information across systems and better monitor and manage product management and customer feature requests?
  • Can you effectively mitigate potential risks and make the most of customer feedback opportunities?
  • Are your document management systems containing your fixed documents integrated with your issue tracking or collaboration systems, or are you still sending ad hoc attachments via email?
  • How about instant messaging – seems to make logical sense to launch instant message chats directly in context with your issue tracking or collaboration system where the conversation details are being tracked.
  • … and many more system to system questions where mixed data, workflow, or communications make sense.

To support these efforts, AppFusions has created integration connectors for Atlassian’s JIRA, the issue tracking tool used by 85% of the Fortune 500, and Confluence to such other commonly deployed Enterprise collaboration and content management tools, such as as JiveIBM Connections, and IBM SametimeBox, iRiseAlfresco, Google Docs, DropBox.

We are continuing to build more platform add-on application integrations to support our “connected enterprise vision” and help organizations better handle the new school approach to customer engagement that Dion describes.

Atlassian Stash Powers Enterprise Application Developers with DVCS Git

Jens Schumacher, Group Product Managerm Atlassian Development Tools

I have written about Atlassian on this blog (see for example: Atlassian Makes Significant Moves into the Enterprise Market). In this post, I focus on Atlassian Stash. It provides Git repository management for Enterprise teams behind the firewall.

I spoke with Jens Schumacher, Atlassian’s Group Product Manager for developer tools. These tools include: Bamboo, Crucible, Fisheye, and Stash. Bamboo provides continuous integration and release management. Crucible supports code review and Fisheye allows you to search out source code artifacts of various source code management flavors and browse commits, files, revisions, or related people. It also integrates seamlessly with JIRA.

Enter Stash! Stash incorporates the latest and greatest technologies in DVCS source code management and Git, allowing you to create and manage repositories, set up fine-grained permissions, and collaborate on code in a secure, fast and enterprise-grade manner.

Jens continued, providing me more background on the development of Stash.

Stash is the latest in Atlassian’s developer tools suite and was released in the Spring of 2012. Atlassian’s existing developer tools are already quite popular in development houses, but still the developers wanted more. They wanted to be able to host code in their own repository behind the firewall.

More – engineers are always pushing the envelope: they wanted Git support, a massively popular and growing DVCS approach used in code development and management these days.

To cleanly meet this need in both a tool and extensibility, Atlassian decided to build Stash from scratch including a ground up extensible API approach, rather than on top of their existing tools.

Stash incorporates code review into the development workflow so the new code gets properly reviewed before it is merged with the existing source code.

To facilitate development, Stash allows developers to set up branches, where code changes can be made in isolation and reviewed before being integrated with the mainline. This separation makes development of new features less complex.

You can easily have new code reviewed while incorporating automated testing tools as well. Stash facilitates the merging of reviewed code into the core source code. This concept of a separate workflow for development is popular with open source efforts and Atlassian has now taken a leading industry position with the Stash offering, enabling this capability inside the firewall.

Integration efforts with Stash are already supported in a number of ways.

  • Per Jens, 80% of the Fortune 500, as well as many many smaller firms, use Atlassian JIRA for issue tracking.Stash is fully integrated with JIRA so you can link code in Stash to a JIRA ticket and track the progress of changes.
  • Stash also natively integrates with enterprise user directory systems, such as Active Directory or LDAP, to make deployment easier within the enterprise.In addition, again, Stash was built with an extensive REST API to make information within Stash easily integrate-able with other tools.

Jens gave me a simple use case. Their customers often want to migrate content from one repository to another or from the cloud to within the firewall. Stash can automate aspects of this common process to simplify the effort.

In the future, Stash will be enhanced with more branch permission capabilities to better ensure that all code gets reviewed before it is merged into the core source code. They are also working hard on scalability requirements to better serve their many large customers. Currently, Stash supports up to 500 user licenses. Finally, they are working on adding enhanced collaboration capabilities for code review.

Jens noted that Atlassian has a massive ecosystem. This is helpful as there already are a number of add-ons for Stash. For example, there is a badge add-on to acknowledge developers’ efforts and skills. Another is a chart add-on to provide statistics. AppFusions built a Stash commenting add-on for Atlassian’s annual CodeGeist competition. Also, add-ons are available to help with different workflows that organizations have in place.

On top of all that, Atlassian’s very popular SourceTree DVCS client further removes DVCS source code tool complexity, and is used to support and guide the process of adding new workflows with proper controls within branching efforts, among other.

Customer response has been very positive since the release of Stash earlier this year. The timing was right for the release, as developers were ready for it.

Jens’ team is now providing new releases every 7 – 9 weeks, with many of the new capabilities coming from customer input.

New needs are always arising in enterprise software development efforts, and many organizations and third party developers want to tackle these needs. Stash provides enhanced support for these efforts.

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.


Doing Well by Doing Good: Humanizing the Enterprise

Forbes recently ran in interesting article, A Cure For The Common Corporation by Dov Seidman. It reported on comprehensive research that examined how governance, culture and leadership influence behavior and impact performance.

It complied around 2 million observations by 36,000-plus employees in 18 countries, from the C-Suite to the junior ranks. The major findings are conclusive that trust and empowering employees has its rewards:

  • 93% of employees within high-trust and truly values-based businesses achieve financial performance greater than competitors vs. 48% of those at strict top-down organizations.
  • Employees in high trust organizations are 22 times more likely to take a beneficial risk and this enables 8 times the levels of innovation compared to the competition.
  • 92% of employees of trust-based businesses based plan to be working for their company in a year, compared to 46% of those in strict top-down organizations.
  • 99% of high-trust and values-based companies observe highly satisfied customers vs. 42% of top-down organizations.
  • Finally, in high-trust companies, only 24% of employees observed misconduct or unethical behaviors, compared to 47% in low-trust focused organizations that ironically establish too much control to prevent these behaviors.

It is great to see this data supporting something that makes sense. The research also reported that despite these results very few organizations actually operate in a high trust mode.

In the new, networked enterprise this trust is essential to realize the opportunities it provides. Hopefully data like this will speak to senior execs to reform their approach to management to keep up with the times.

Others have written on this theme. For example, Louise Altman, Partner, Intentional Communication offered us — Humanizing Workplace Relationships – People Aren’t Tasks. The tag line is the most significant concept. I recently re-watched an excellent video produced by the BBC in 1997, Intellectual capital: The New Wealth of Nations. It made the same point. The film portrayed the industrial revolution as a plague on people where workers were treated as mere extensions of machines.

Now the percentage of tangible assets in the corporations in the S&P 500 has shifted from 66% in 1982 to 16% in 1999 and likely continues to fall (see Juergen Daum, Intangible Assets and Value Creation). In its place is the rise of intangible assets as the creators of wealth. These are mostly the ideas in people’s minds. Yet, as Louise points out many organizations are still managing people as though the wealth was created by tangible assets, machines, and people are just servants of these machines.

According to another survey conducted by Deloitte executives rank tangibles like competitive compensation (62%) and financial performance (65%) as the top factors that influence culture. While employees have a different view and say intangibles such as regular and candid conversations (50%) and access to management (47%) rank higher than compensation (33%) and financial performance (24%)

The prevalence of these misguided concepts is consistent with what Dov Seidman reported on in Forbes. As his data support, wealth now comes from treating people as human assets and releasing their creativity to enable innovation and new wealth in organizations. Consistent with this premise, McKinsey found in 2010 that the lower the decision level was in the organization, the higher operating margin. As many studies are starting to conclude, top down authority is the enemy of profits.