Microsoft today put itself squarely into the enterprise search market by introducing Microsoft Search Server Express 2008. You can download the release candidate from its website and give it a try if you have a Windows 2003 Server with some free space on it. It's free today, and it will be free when it goes to general release in the first quarter of 2008. Don't be fooled by its cost; this is a capable product that will get the attention of anyone considering or in the midst of a search deployment. Search Server will disrupt the strategies of clients and vendors within the already confusing search landscape. It is better than 'good enough' on many fronts, including its connectivity into Documentum and FileNet content repositories — also free — and its unified administration interface. For more insights, take a look at Forrester’s view on the release.
Second Life is an anonymous virtual world — most people cannot identify themselves with avatars that use their real names. I say most people because I suppose there is a chance your name in real life could be Baklava Lacava and you could have picked this combination for your avatar. Oops, no you couldn’t – Rob Koplowitz picked that one a long time ago. Anyway, users in Second Life (called “residents”) choose a first name and a last name from a list of options ranging from realistic to fantastic. For a long time I’ve been thinking that because Second Life is an anonymous world it will be doomed to be no more than experimental grounds for use at work. But yesterday I had a phone interview followed by an in-world tour from Claus Nehmzow, a partner at PA Consulting, a 3,000-person consulting company headquartered in London. My thoughts after talking with Claus:
The consolidation of the IAM market is not a new phenomenon and has been following the following pattern: a large software company with a follower IAM product set acquires a smaller IAM vendor with a proven track record to update the IAM product and services portfolio and to secure increased market presence. The acquisition of Securent by Cisco is fairly different and highlights the following trends: 1) Entitlement Management is needed so much by the market that Cisco – even though it has not traditionally been a player in the IAM space – enters the market first with an Entitlement Management product. It is surprising, as only CA has an EM product today – all other IAM vendors are still trying to build their own as the other serious competitors on the EM market, BEA ALES is not for sale as a startup. 2) Entitlement Management may be moving (along with to IAM) to operations and to the network protocol level. In fact, Cisco intends to incorporate the Secucent EMS product into the policy engine of their SONA architecture. Policy Enforcement Points (PEP) are currently implemented at the application endpoint. With this acquisition, in the future customers can implement hybrid PEPs distributed between the network and the application, thus starting to move non-business policy logic into the infrastructure layer.
I picked up a book at the airport last week because 1) It had a pretty cover, and 2) The title was Juicing The Orange: How To Turn Creativity Into A Powerful Business Advantage. I've been thinking a lot lately about the relationship between the stuff that information and knowledge management (I&KM) pros are doing at work and the business movement toward organizations that are creative and have a heavy emphasis on innovation and design. Juicing The Orange turned out to be about lessons learned specifically in the advertising industry — not exactly my area of expertise. But I couldn't put it down! Many of the points authors Pat Fallon and Fred Senn raise are directly applicable to the efforts I&KM pros are undertaking — especially those who are or who work directly with HR, chief design officers, or other "culture players," as they are described in Juicing The Orange. In particular:
Interwoven has announced its acquisition of Optimost, a company offering Web site testing and optimization through a software-as-a-service model. Optimost enables organizations to use multivariable testing to identify combinations of Web content — such as ads, pricing, and layouts — that get the best response from site visitors (all the better to drive up those conversion rates).
This isn't Interwoven's first effort to appeal to marketers; earlier this year, the company announced a targeting management module that allows non-technical users to manage contextual experiences for Web site visitors. This latest acquisition plays nicely into the story of traditional WCM vendors offering features such as targeting, testing, and analytics that will differentiate them from the platform vendors, which tend to offer more limited functionality in those areas.
My colleague Suresh Vittal commented that this acquisition is just another step in the broader issue of increasing relevance and targeting. The question now is whether Interwoven will continue to add additional components of an online marketing suite, such as enhanced campaign management and Web analytics, in order to further differentiate themselves from their competition.
Irving Wladawsky-Berger, Chairman Emeritus, IBM Academy of Technology, was speaking from experience this morning during his interview by Wall Street Journal Columnist Walt Mossberg at the BIF-3 collaborative innovation summit. By a near-death experience, Wladawsky-Berger was referring to what IBM went through when Bill Gates founded Microsoft and the PC took off. Another example interviewer Mossberg raised during the conversation was Apple, which was in terrible financial straits in the mid 90s and has risen from the ashes to become today’s darling in the consumer electronics and digital music markets. Wladawsky-Berger said that near-death experiences open up the mind to new experiences – they “clean the brain.” These experiences force people to think in new ways and look for new opportunities. For IBM, the Internet became the lifeboat and the company clutched onto it. Later came Linux and other technologies.
As part of the run-up to the Business Innovation Factory summit (BIF-3) currently going on in Providence, Rhode Island, attendees participated in an online social network. On the social networking site, the most common one-word answers to the question “What are 5 keys to innovation?” were rolled up into a tag cloud (see figure). Words that rose to the top of the list included creativity, collaboration, and passion. These are all good.
SAP made a major departure from its "tuck-in" strategy with the October 7 announcement of its agreement to acquire Business Object for 4.8 billion (Euro). On the surface, the deal makes sense from the standpoint of marrying business intelligence (BI) technology with ERP applications. The deal is surprising in the sense that SAP has long insisted that its growth strategy is organic and that it would not make major acquisitions to gain market share. The Business Objects deal is by far the largest SAP acquisition to date, comparable in scope to Oracle’s acquisitions of PeopleSoft, Siebel and Hyperion.
SAP and Business Objects today announced that the companies have reached an agreement for SAP to acquire Business Objects for approximate sum of slightly above 4.8 billion euro. Forrester has been predicting this continued market consolidation for some time — see our Microsoft Buys Proclarity and Oracle Buys Hyperion research documents, as well as a couple of my earlier blogs on the subject. SAP must be feeling a lot of pain and pressure to make such a significant move — SAP executives have been telling the world for years that they prefer small, tuck-in acquisitions. The deal though does make a lot of sense. In one transaction SAP gets the best of breed set of BI tools with full BI stack capabilities, everything from data integration tools like ETL and data quality to reporting, OLAP, dashboards, text analytics and many others. This deal has multiple implications to enterprise software users, especially for those 30-40% from the common SAP/BOBJ customer base:
Business Objects users will gain from SAP’s domain expertise. In the era of increasingly commoditized products and services, domain expertise and industry specific solutions are key differentiating factors for any enterprise software vendor.