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

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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.

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.

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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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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.

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