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.

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The Joy of Baking?

Stephen Powers

by Stephen Powers.

I recently spoke with an IT manager who came up with a great analogy for a problem I continue to see in the WCM space. He was telling me about how much customization his team has needed to do while implementing a WCM solution, and how he expected some features to be more out-of-the box, like advanced content authoring tools. He commented, “At Christmas time, the vendor sent us one of those gift baskets that vendors sometimes send. You know what those baskets are usually like - wine, cheese, candy. But you know what they sent us in this year’s basket? Brownie mix. We had to bake our own holiday gift. I wanted to call them up and tell them, ‘This is exactly what is wrong with your product!’"

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Which Pureplay BI Dominos Will Fall Next And Who'll Be The First To Push Them

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

Since Oracle really never competed toe to toe with IBM on applications and BI, the Hyperion acquisition is of a smaller significance for IBM than to other BI vendors. Watch for Oracle to acquire BEA, TIBCO or Informatica to leapfrog IBM in the EAI or middleware space.

It would be logical for IBM or SAP to pick up Cognos (not Business Objects, since it is still going through multiple product integration challenges) as the logical next large BI acquisition. SAP will probably make the first move, and once that happens, the IBM will look at Microstrategy or Information Builders as an alternative BI acquisition.

HP also clearly wants to be a BI player: they recently acquired a top boutique BI Systems Integrator, Knightsbridge, developed an integrated Data Warehousing platform – Neoview, and its NonStop database is used in some of the largest DW implementations. We would not be surprised if the next large BI acquisition comes from HP.

An orthogonal move could come from EMC or Sun, who have been Information Management players for years, with BI being a natural addition/extension. Notably absent from the rumors is Teradata, which in our opinion has to diversify into more layers of the BI “stack” beyond data warehousing to keep its competitive position.

Oracle/Hyperion Merger - Implications To Competitors

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

A clear implication of this acquisition is for Oracle’s pureplay BI competitors: Cognos, Business Objects, Microstrategy, SAS and Information Builders, since a combined Oracle/Hyperion BI offering with best of breed components in every layer of the BI “stack” will become increasingly difficult to beat. While many of these vendors were quick to issue statements that they view this transaction as an "opportunity they intend to take advantage of" and that they remain "clear leaders" in the space, it is very clear that they are, as they should be, very concerned of Oracle's new position.

The transaction also has potentially huge implication for Microsoft, which has been giving away its OLAP product, Analysis Services, as part of SQLServer. While Oracle is also packaging OLAP (Express) with its relational database, it was always considered a lower end product to Microsoft. If Oracle decides to bundle Essbase as part of its overall database license, it could make significant cuts into Microsoft’s OLAP market share.

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Oracle/Hyperion Integration Challanges

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

It is unclear whether Oracle will integrate, keep separate, or drop one of the clearly redundant products: multidimensional databases, Oracle Express (currently part of Oracle BI Server) and Essbase. However, if and when Oracle creates the same seamless integration they always had between its Express and relational databases with Essbase, it will truly become an awesome analytical database product hard to beat.

However, contrary to Oracle/Hyperion rosy statements of little if any product overlap, Oracle will face obvious and significant integration and product positioning challenges with multitude of overlapping and redundant products: Essbase vs. Express, Hyperion data integration and reporting tools (formerly Brio) vs. Oracle’s (including recently acquired Sunopsis), Hyperion Sales and Marketing Analytics vs. Siebel’s, plus some others.

Oracle's Double Whammy

Boris Evelson

by Boris Evelson.

For over a year we heard rumors that the dominos of the standalone, pureplay Business Intelligence vendors were about to start falling. We held our breath and took bets whether it was going to be Cognos, Business Objects or Hyperion. With the announcement of Hyperion acquisition Oracle did, again, what it does best — swiftly climed several notches higher on the BI food chain. It's important to note, though, that this acquisition goes a step further and actually repositions Oracle in two, not just one, market segments — performance management and business intelligence.

WebSphere Portal Coolness Factor Just Shot Through The Roof

by Erica Driver.

Today, IBM announced that it will bring Google's consumer-style Web utilities, called Google Gadgets, into WebSphere Portal 6.0 and WebSphere Portal Express. Nearly 4,000 Google Gadgets will be available to WebSphere Portal 6.0 customers at no additional cost. Google Gadgets include things like package tracking, Wikipedia searches, language translators, weather, and--my personal favorite--the Virtual Flower Pot. (Just today I realized that the reason my red tulips weren't growing is because I wasn't watering them by mousing over them frequently enough.) What this all means:

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Retention Management Best Practices – Hard To Find

by Barry Murphy.

Last spring, Forrester introduced the concept of retention management, which extends records management to all content from creation through long-term retention and destruction (check out the Retention Management document).  Seems simple enough, but with so many repositories of information (hard drives, network file shares, SharePoint sites, email servers and archives, and any number of managed repositories) extending retention policies to all of it is all but impossible.

To get a sense of how organizations address retention management, I reached out to approximately 300 companies for a research interview, figuring maybe 10 would be willing to speak about what they are doing.  In an indication of how hot the topic is, over 30 companies wanted to speak further.  Having conducted about half the interviews so far, it’s clear we are at the very beginning of the learning curve for retention management. 

Some emerging hypotheses to date:

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How To Restore Email To Its Productivity-Enhancing Glory

by Erica Driver.

I just got off the phone with a small software startup called Get Back Software. For $3/team member/month, a department head can use Get Back’s product, called Postware, to put a cap on the number of emails that people in their group can send. The thinking behind this new software as a service is that email has turned from a productivity-enhancing tool into a productivity sinkhole, and that by giving workers a limited “email allowance” you can change their behavior—you can get them to think twice before cc:ing their boss or replying to all, or inviting a colleague to lunch via email rather than by walking down the hall or picking up the phone. I agree with the core premise here—that the productivity benefits of tools like email (and instant messaging and mobile devices) go down when the volume of communications hits a critical mass and when workers have no control over the volume and frequency of interruptions to their work.

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Call For Collaboration Strategy Documents

by Erica Driver.

My mind is a sieve. It can take a few requests before I remember to do something. And even with a few prods, it takes a while for me to get moving. But I've gotten so many requests along the lines of "What does a collaboration strategy document look like? What should it include?" that it's all I'm thinking about these days.

I will be publishing a sample collaboration strategy document in Q2. If you have developed and documented an enterprise collaboration strategy and would be willing to share it with Forrester for the greater good of industry research--with our promise to guard it and not share it with anyone outside the company--we would love to include you in our research. You can find me at edriver@forrester.com.

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