Is Salesforce.com The Key To The Cloud Kingdom?

Rob Koplowitz

RobkoplowitzBy Rob Koplowitz

Today Google and Salesforce.com announced another step in their ongoing flirtatious relationship. Salesforce.com will now bundle Google business applications into its on-line CRM offering. Salesforce will also begin to distribute Google applications backed by Salesforce support. It's always interesting when these two make an announcement for two reasons: First, they are both 100% committed to cloud computing and they think about the future of the industry in very similar terms. Second, it is fundamentally interesting to conjecture about the potential of a Salesforce acquisition. Note the rumor mill cranking up on this topic a few weeks ago when Oracle arranged for a $2B line of credit.

Now, Marc Benioff has stated early, often and loudly that Saleforce.com is not an acquisition target and has every intention of becoming the next major software infrastructure vendor. Fair enough. Salesforce.com has done all the right things to do just that. They've invested heavily in an infrastructure and built a reputation that represents a significant barrier to entry to anyone that wants to horn in on their territory. Salesforce.com has a significant history of securely and reliably delivering mission critical enterprise applications in the cloud. Raise your hand if you can make that claim. Not a lot of hands.

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Podcasts From Forrester

Claire Schooley

ClaireschooleyBy Claire Schooley

We're doing podcasts at Forrester now, and I'm the internal resource for how to get them done. Here's what we've learned so far:

Post new podcasts on a regular basis. Decide on a schedule — twice a week, every week, every two weeks and stick to it. Listeners look forward to new material on a consistent basis. Consistency helps you gain and maintain an audience.

Name your podcast. Consider a contest to identify a good name. At Forrester we are still working on a name. Any ideas? In the meantime, you can name the podcast after your company like we have — Forrester Podcasts.

Identify upbeat music. Start and end each podcast with three-to-five seconds of music. Use the same music each time to give your podcast an identity, like NPR's All Things Considered. Do you have in-house musicians who might enjoy creating your theme music?

Keep podcasts short. Six-to-twelve minute podcasts are ideal. If the topic takes longer, break it into two or more podcasts and let listeners know this podcast is the first of a two- or three-part series.

Plan a podcast format that fits the topic. Vary the format depending on the topic and the presenter but keep the music and podcast name consistent. Here are some formats we've tried:

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Microsoft Goes Hostile, Looks To Buy Yahoo! And Yes It Impacts You

Rob Koplowitz

Kylemcnabb_4RobkoplowitzBy Kyle McNabb and Rob Koplowitz

This morning Microsoft announced a $44.6b bid to acquire Yahoo! Driven largely to bolster Microsoft’s search and advertising business in order to better compete with Google, this move does have a few hidden gems that will impact enterprise IT environments. For insights into the consumer side of this story, see the post from Charlene Li and Shar  Van Boskirk.

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Travel Benefits Challenged By Environmental Damage

Claire Schooley

ClaireschooleyBy Claire Schooley

An article in January 25, 2008 Chronicle of Higher Education really caused me to sit back and reflect. The author, a university professor, questions the contradiction of conference travel thousands of miles away to hear or give presentations in light of global warming, with air travel one of the greatest polluters. Academics as well as business people travel all the time. In many cases it's critical for executives to gather for multiple-day meetings that address an issue or for academics to conduct research and interact with colleagues. But these are often the exceptions. People travel all the time to one-day meetings or even two-to-three-hour events and then turn around and come home. In fact I fall into this category. Recently I traveled from California to Amsterdam to deliver a half-hour speech, have Q&A, and do a five-minute Website video. At the after-party, I had an opportunity to meet and make connections and learn lots. It was great! I loved it! And that's why people travel. . . as social animals we like the face-to-face interaction, the new environment, or the invigorating atmosphere of a new culture. But is that always enough reason (as the author states) to "put more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than do 110,000 Chadians or 11,000 Indians in an entire year?" But patterns are hard to change, especially when we like and get additional value from traveling. After the speech I didn't turn around and come home but traveled on to Belgium and Germany (by fast train) to see friends and deepen those cross-cultural human bonds that are so important in our challenging world today.

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Social Computing As Disposable Technology

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

The question of measuring ROI of social computing is hot because it's so much a part of enterprise software acquisition. As information and knowledge management professionals move to get ahead of this emerging technology curve, they find a very consistent pattern:

  • People are using this stuff! Blogs and wikis in particular are popping up everywhere. Why not? They are easy to access, often free, and they are dead simple to use. It's one of those permission / forgiveness things. We've all done it.
  • If people are using these things that IT doesn't know about, there is no way of ensuring security, privacy, availability, governance, compliance, risk mitigation and all of those good things that keep the organization running and employees out of trouble (maybe even jail!).
  • Most really don't want to shut it down because in many instances these are more efficient solutions than those provided by the organization. These tools are often just easier and better for generating and publishing content.
  • The natural inclination in this situation would be to bring in the tradtional software vendors and see if they can support these new technology directions. Not surprisingly, a number of big vendors are ready and willing to help, including BEA, IBM/Lotus, Microsoft, Oracle and SAP.
  • Sounds great. Lots of reasons to go with one of the big vendors (see bullet 2).
  • How much will it cost? How much will it give back? In other words, can the acquisition be justified with a strong return on investment analysis?
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Content as a First-Class Citizen

Rob Koplowitz

by Rob Koplowitz.

Ever think about how much time, energy and money we expend on managing line of business data? Just drive past the Oracle headquarters in Redwood Shores and you'll see a glimmering green city of glass all built on revenue from managing business data. OK, they make some money in other areas these days, but the emerald city was build on database revenue. Managing structured information is key to the success of any organization. The number in the bottom line needs to be accurate or very bad things happen.

On the other side of the coin lives unstructured information. While some unstructured information has been afforded the respect given to structured business data (engineering drawings, legal documents, pharmaceutical documentation, insurance claims documents to name few) the vast majority has languished virtually unmanaged in file servers and on PC hard drives. Even companies with the right resources and motivation, like Oracle which has the ability to manage structured and unstructured data in its database as well applications to take advantage of both, have made only minimal progress at bridging these disparate worlds.

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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.

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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.
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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.

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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.

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