An Experiment In A Community-Driven Research Agenda

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

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.

Categories:

Do Enterprise Users Need A Second Life?

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz

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.
Read more

Categories:

Google Gears And Converse All-Stars

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

One of the great joys I have in working for Forrester is the opportunity to collaborate with my colleague Oliver Young on the future of Web 2.0. Oliver and I bring very different perspectives to the table and the final product is better as a result. Part of the reason for our difference in perspective is generational. I am a baby boomer (born between 1946 and 1964). Oliver is what Forrester calls a millennial (born between 1980 and 2000). Oddly enough we share a passion for Converse All-Stars. Mine was the result of seeing them worn by the late great Wilt Chamberlain. Oliver, no doubt, was influenced by some highly pierced and tattooed musician.   

One area where we do not agree is on the impact of Google's recent announcement of Google Gears, a set of JavaScript capabilities that Google has developed and released to Open Source that allow disconnected access to web based content and application logic. The first instantiation is available today and allows users take Google Reader off-line. If you read my recent blog about Google and Salesforce.com targeting Microsoft, you can quickly see how critical this functionality is in competing with a vendor that can leverage an install base of about a half a billion copies of client based productivity software.

Read more

Categories:

Can Salesforce Help Google Storm The Microsoft Fortress?

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

Imagine two gigantic mountains of money. On top of each sits a warrior that wants nothing more than to be sitting on a pile of money twice the size. One warrior, we'll call him Google, dominates the world of on-line search and advertising. The other, we'll call him Microsoft, dominates productivity software.What's the fastest way to double the size of your mountain? Simple, take the other guy's pile.

Google entered the world of enterprise productivity software earlier this year. While they continually claim that they don't compete with Microsoft and that their goal is to bring collaboration and productivity to currently under-served workers,it's hard to imagine that they aren't eyeing that big pile of money that Microsoft is sitting on. Afterall, all those free lunches in Google's cafeterias aren't really free. Google wants you to give up that software and information on your laptop and access it all from their data centers.

Google spokespeople continually repeat the mantra, "We understand the enterprise". While I believe that to be true, I also think that Google has a lot to prove before being taken seriously as an enterprise software vendor. If they really intend to try to get at Microsoft's pile of money, they are going to have to demonstrate that they understand security, privacy and reliability and all in the emerging software as a services (SaaS) model. They also have to prove that they have the stomach to take on Microsoft for the long haul. Let's be clear here, Microsoft is not fond of anyone putting their hands on their pile of money.

Read more

The New Software Industry – Forces At Play, Business In Motion

Claire Schooley

by Claire Schooley.

I attended a conference sponsored by Carnegie Mellon West; The Fisher IT Center at the Haas School of Business, UC Berkeley; the Software Industry Center at Carnegie Mellon University; and Services: Science, Management, and Engineering Program at UC Berkeley. The one-day event was held at the Microsoft Campus at Moffitt Field in Silicon Valley. The goal of this conference was to discuss where the software industry is going. Ten sessions including individual speakers and panels from university and business communicated the strong message that software is at a crossroads and will dramatically change in the future, and . . . the change has already begun. To access slides of the speaker presentations go to http://west.cmu.edu/sofcon/postcon.

The changes are around growth of software-as-a-service, new roles of services as a value- add to commoditized software, and new businesses and pricing models. The overwhelming consensus was that software-as-a-service is where the growth is today. Speakers pointed out some of the most successful companies in terms of generating revenue like WebEx, Amazon, Google — all service-based. At the same time they do not see companies that have built their business around software like Oracle, SAP, and Microsoft going “down-the-tube” just yet. In fact Oracle already has Oracle On-demand, a very successful service solution while supporting their enterprise installed customers. Companies that have these installed applications will not find it easy to change to a service-model, even it they wanted to. It requires architectural, economic and cultural changes and requires a ten-year time table to move from an installed software model to a services model. It seems much easier to start from the ground up like Salesforce.com.

Read more

Organizations Need Two Dramatically Different Kinds Of Learning

Claire Schooley

by Claire Schooley.

Organization’s learning leaders hear the words “informal learning” or “eLearning 2.0” and think, “Oh my, now we have to change the way we provide training!” Yes, you may want to make some changes but, more importantly, you need to look at existing learning within your organization and determine what is training and what is education or development. I see two distinct types of learning that are both complementary, but also dramatically different. Today’s knowledge workers need both.

Training refers to the learning that employees access in order to do their job. This includes traditional mandated training for fields like accounting or pharmaceuticals. But a large percentage of training should be the “just-in-time” kind that gives the employees the information or knowledge refresher that they need to continue their work task. This informal learning is driven by the employee and is generally not tracked except to indicate the number of employees who have accessed the sites. Examples include online mentoring, clicking on the “just-in-time” learning related to the work topic for a three-to-five minute learning nugget, accessing the context-sensitive learning built into the application, or clicking on “expertise location” on the intranet to find a person in the organization who has the expertise to help. This kind of training or knowledge seeking requires a good search engine to find a document, PowerPoint, video, blog, wiki, etc. on the organization’s intranet site. A good practice is to make the five to ten-minute learning objects or course components searchable so an employee can find the exact part of a module or course that will provide the assistance they need.

Read more

Categories:

What’s All This Talk About Informal Learning?

Claire Schooley

by Claire Schooley.

After we leave formal education settings, 80% of our learning is of the informal kind; yet only 20% of corporate education dollars are spent on what is most important to us as employees.  Why are corporations spending 80% of their employee education dollars on that modest 20% of the learning we do?

So, what is informal learning? It’s that unplanned discussion with a colleague over an issue you don’t understand and glimpsing a new perspective on how to deal with an issue that has arisen. It’s sending an IM to a remote colleague to get information on how the company is implementing a procedure, and then setting up a 10-minute phone discussion to go deeper. It’s bouncing ideas for a new project off a colleague, then asking her to question your perspectives—like a kind of informal coach. These sound like things we do every day, right? Some corporate cultures actively encourage and support these informal ways of learning through trust, technology—IM, Expert Location, or good intranet search capability—and a supportive culture, while others frown on “taking time away from work” to talk to colleagues.

Read more

Categories:

Is Microsoft Serious About Social Computing?

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

I’ve already blogged here about how much I enjoy using Office 2007. Today I wanted to blog about wikis and blogs. I opened up Word 2007 since I generally like to create things locally and then push them up to the network when I’m ready.  I opened Word and clicked on “New” and found two choices; “Blank document” and “New blog post”. Well, that’s kind of cool. Microsoft has already integrated Word and blogging. Might even be able to use Office Live for that...

This brings me to a question that I’ve been hearing a lot from clients lately: Is Microsoft serious about wikis, blogs and other emerging aspects of social computing? The answer is a resounding YES. Wikis and blog are tools for creating content and collaborating. These are markets that Microsoft takes very seriously.

If you haven’t had a chance to familiarize yourself with Microsoft Office SharePoint Server 2007 yet, take a look at the social computing functionality. SharePoint now has the ability to generate wikis and blogs as template types. While SharePoint’s implementation may not be as elegant and full featured as some of the new pure-plays, it is completely and seamlessly integrated into their flagship collaboration product. (Apologies to the folks in Exchange, but let’s face it, you’re email, SharePoint is collaboration) What does this mean? Well here are just a few examples:

Every blog and wiki can be real-time enabled with presence, IM etc. if you are running Office Communication Server

Wiki and blog templates can be augmented through the addition of web parts

Templates can be customized and extended through the use of SharePoint development tools

Read more

Categories:

Billy Joe Armstrong, Social Computing and Converse All-Stars

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

Not long ago I was spending a sunny Saturday afternoon watching my son play soccer. Among the group of soccer parents gathered on the sidelines that day was Billy Joe Armstrong of Green Day rooting for his son who was playing for the opposing team. Billy Joe was wearing Levi jeans, a t-shirt and black Converse All-Stars. Since I was dressed the same, I asked my daughter Sarah if I was hip like Billy Joe. She explained that just because my 30 year old fashion sense had come back into style it did not make me hip. She also pointed out that use of the word “hip” was very un-hip.  Well, I used to be hip.

This brings me to the exciting new phenomenon of social computing in the enterprise, which like Billy Joe is undeniably cool. However, like Levis and Converse All-Stars, we’ve seen this before. The roots of the internet are in helping geographically and organizationally dispersed teams come together to network, solve problems, generate ideas, etc.  When ARPANET (the precursor to today’s internet) was a mere four node network connecting computers at UCLA, UC Santa Barbara, the University of Utah and the Stanford Research Institute the initial benefit was that these organizations could use the network to work together on building and expanding the network.

Even the “social” part of social computing is nothing new. Let’s face it, long before wikis and blogs were used to satiate our unquenchable thirst for all things Britney Spears, The Well served the same need for The Grateful Dead.

Read more

Categories:

Google Changes the Productivity Landscape

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

I have a confession to make. I really can’t tell the difference between Office 2000, Office XP and Office 2003. I have had all three installed on various computers in my home and they all look the same to me.

Now, I can tell the difference between all of the above and Office 2007. When I joined Forrester I left my Office 2007 beta behind and was presented with a brand spanking new laptop with Office 2003 pre-installed. To quote Kevin Kline in A Fish Called Wanda, “DISAPPOINTED”. Luckily, Microsoft came to the rescue and shipped me out a copy of Office 2007.

Against this backdrop I find myself on a call with Google who is briefing me on their upcoming move into the world of business productivity applications. That evening I sat down with my focus group of one, my son Jake who is a sixth grader with writing goals surprising similar to my own. I pulled up Google Docs and Word 2007 and asked Jake to make a comparison. After a few minutes he gave me his expert analysis. “They’re the same.” I was incredulous. I alt-tabbed between the lush, multi-hued garden of Office and the spiny houseplant of Google and asked how they could be the same? Jake patiently pointed out, feature by feature, that Google had everything he needed. All of the advanced features of Word were invisible to him.

Read more

Categories: