I met earlier this week with Constant Contact, the email service provider focused on the small (and I mean SMALL business market. . . half of their clients have fewer than 5 employees). They were in to talk about a new survey tool they've developed ListenUp!, the first product in a new marketing suite of SMB tools they are developing to complement their email capabilities. The survey tool looks good. . . a helpful solution for small marketers trying to conduct some market research, or gather some customer data to make segmentation possible.
But what really impressed me in my conversation with Constant Contact was their value system and how it has led to continued growth for them. Here it is:
The news to welcome us all back from the July 4 holiday was that "Google Buys Again." This time Postini, an enterprise app focused on communications security and compliance, for $625 million.
To me, this acquisition does means a few things:
1) It clearly demonstrates Google's intent to expand outside of its present role as a search engine or online media provider and into a more holistic role as a technology and media solutions provider.
2) It also expands Google's access to the enterprise customer. Google has made its first fortune by selling paid ads adjacent to the volumes of consumer searches conducted on google.com. New Web features like Google News, Gmail and Google Checkout are also providing Google consumer data and additional outlets where they can sell ads. Postini now provides Google insight into enterprise email and perhaps ultimately ad space within the enterprise inbox.
This September 25-26 at the Forrester Technology Leadership Forum in Carlsbad California, Matt Brown and I will be presenting a session on Social Computing coming to the enterprise. As we began the process of creating an agenda for the session we were immediately struck by the thought that this session should not be driven by the two of us (as charming and articulate as we may be) but by the community that is interested in the topic. In other words, you all should be setting the agenda for a session on social computing, not us. If social computing has the ability to change how work is done, let's put it to work. We always want feedback after a session, but here's a chance to get way ahead of the game and tell us what want before the event.
To that end, we have set up a Wiki to allow the community to drive the process. Matt and I will build the session agenda directly from the input into the Wiki, so if you have areas you'd like to see highlighted, stories to share, words of caution or encouragement please let us know. Willing to help? Access the Wiki here and let's get started!
We'll provide updates on how it's going (both the good and the bad) right here.
Today began with very interesting news — Autonomy entered into a definitive agreement to purchase message archiving and eDiscovery vendor Zantaz. This is a great purchase for Autonomy. They have already integrated IDOL server into Zantaz's archiving and eDiscovery applications, so they can capitalize on synergies immediately. eDiscovery is a hot market for both companies — the combined entities will have likely the best brand value in the eDiscovery space. With organizations truly called to action by the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure (FRCPs), Autonomy/Zantaz has the solution set to help implement a short-term solution that can evolve into longer-term information management strategies (see our eDiscovery market overview for more information on how the FRCPs have become an information management spending driver).
This also makes Autonomy more attractive to the larger vendors, and I would not be surprised at all to see a CA, EMC, IBM, or Oracle in turn acquire Autonomy. Oracle makes the most sense as it is the only of the big infrastructure vendors that lacks the message archiving capability that Zantaz could provide.
I recently co-presented at a workshop on eDiscovery. Before I spoke about what enterprises are doing about exploding discovery costs and the fragmented solutions landscape, a very experienced corporate general counsel spoke to the IT-heavy audience. The theme of his presentation was "help a lawyer today." That's right CIOs and IT project managers - your legal team is not going to tell you how to handle eDiscovery. You are going to be responsible for effeciently and defensibly collecting information in response to regulatory and legal requests. In fact, legal is relying on your expertise in technologies to better manage information.
The moral of the story is that IT must take the leadership role in creating a formal, cross-functional team and process for managing eDiscovery. Don't fret - here's a few cheat sheets to get you started:
A while back I was invited to a very interesting presentation of some research going on in Sun Microsystems' labs. They were showing off a project called MPK 20. The name of the project is aligned with the naming of the buildings on their Menlo Park campus, MPK 1 - 19. MPK 20, the next building, will be completely virtual. Think of MPK 20 as a private, behind the firewall, version of Linden's Second Life. The idea is for Sun to provide a very rich area for remote workers to come together and collaborate. Their early vision is very much a virtual version of their physical workspace world. The question that occurred to me is, do we need to pursue this path of virtual workspaces?
Let's start with an assumption. The paradigm of bringing workers to a physical office is beginning to break down and it's only going to get worse. A few driving factors:
Carbon footprint. Organizations will be increasingly held accountable for the overall effect they have on the world. Asking workers to drive or fly to a physical location in order to do work that can be done virtually is undoubtedly the biggest contributing factor to overall carbon footprint for most organizations.
Competition for workers. If you require workers to come to an office every day, your hiring is constrained by the talent pool that is located within commute distance of your office. Would you rather have the best worker available in the world or the best worker within 30 miles of your office? Additionally, workers that commute from long distances are far more likely to become frustrated and leave.
At the end of May, Microsoft announced a project called Microsoft Surface. Microsoft Surface is a new, game-changing computing interface: a 30-inch display table that individuals or small groups can gather around and use collaboratively. The user interacts with Surface using natural hand gestures, touch, and physical objects placed on the surface. Here's a photo courtesy of Microsoft, but photos don't do Surface justice so check out the demo on Microsoft's Web site.
My take is that this is all much ado about nothing. Why?
*Google is an easy target. Google is so large, and has seen such rapid growth over the last 3 years, that we all (competitors, consumers, government officials, press, industry analysts) can't help but be a little suspicious of them. And maybe a little jealous of their wealth and presence.