The Enterprise Social Landscape Enters Teen Years

At Forrester we have published our first Enterprise Social Platform Wave. I first entitled this blog "Enterprise Social Landscape Matures" but then realized that while the market has moved dramatically forward, it's hardly mature. Rather than mature, it often reminds me of my teenage son. Sometimes mature, sometimes not so much. The fact is that about 57% of enterprises are making some investment in enterprise social in 2011. Which means that 43% are not yet doing anything. There's a lot yet to be determined about this market. Yet, we see signs of growing up. There are some very large deals going down as some enterprises set standards and deploy pervasively. Jive, one of the vendors in our Wave, recently filed for IPO signaling maturation of the space. Some 800-pound collaboration gorillas have jumped into the space, including IBM and Microsoft. Cisco is making a move from the strength of its voice and video positions. OpenText is coming in from the content side. And there is still plenty of room for smaller disruptors with Atlassian, Socialtext, NewsGator, and Telligent all making waves in this growing market. Nine vendors were featured in the Forrester Wave: 

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Why Tibbr Matters

Sorry, this will be a quick one so I don't have time to build in an Animal House reference. I've been following all of the "expert" commentary on Twitter about Tibco's Tibbr announcement. At first glance, Tibbr appears to be another entrant in a crowded space that includes Yammer, SocialText, Salesforce (sorry again, a quick one so I don't have time for what deserves to be a very long list, you get the idea).

Tibbr is not a me-too entrant in this space. Tibbr leverages Tibco's unique position to drive highly relevant information into an incredibly compelling new knowledge worker experience. The link between critical line of business data and the average knowledge worker in an enterprise has long been more tenuous and less effective than it should be. Tibco has an investment in enterprise application integration that might astound the uninitiated. So here is an example of how an internal microblog/activity stream might look in a Tibbr-enabled world:

"Joey's Diner has the best clams casino. I can't get enough of them."  — Get over yourself, no one cares what you're eating. And by the way, your self-indulgence is creating noise that is blocking critical signal.

"The Knack are back. Great concert last night at the Konocti Harbor Inn." See above, you get the idea.

"I'm working on a huge proposal for a key client, has anyone done a big deal with legal"   Great, now we're getting somewhere.

"Inventory levels of widgets are critically low in Kansas City store"  Holy mackerel, that's important. Thanks, Tibco, for making a massive investment in building integration to my inventory system.

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Collaboration Will Become More People-Centric In 2011 And Will Challenge C&C Pros

For a number of years now, Forrester has used the following definition for Web 2.0:

A set of technologies and applications that enable efficient interaction among people, content and data in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings, and social structures.

For many Content and Collaboration Professionals (C&C Pros), the first half of this definition looks very familiar. Providing knowledge worker with better access to information and co-workers along with communication tools has been the primary goal since collaboration tools began to seriously penetrate the enterprise 20 years ago.

Now the second half of the definition "in support of collectively fostering new businesses, technology offerings and social structures" is a bit different. This maps to some potentially broad and strategic organizational goals.  This is at the core Enterprise Social Media. And Enterprise Social is here. Smart C&C Pros have already begun to take a leadership position in guiding their organization down this path that could be game changer, albeit one that is fraught with challenges.

Here's the challenge: As collaboration moves from being document-centric to more people-centric, the rules change. "Need to know" becomes "need to share". This can be scary, particularly for folks in HR that are concerned with privacy, legal folks that are thinking of intellectual capital, compliance, and the list goes on. Let's not even bring up the word WikiLeaks for heaven's sake. You get the picture.

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Jump Start Your Enterprise Social Efforts With A Jam

So, your organization needs to get social. We all get the benefits. More interactions among more knowledge workers with more frictionless access to more content equals a perfect environment for something new and great to happen. "Peanut butter, have you met chocolate? Oh, you work in separate parts of the organization and haven't had the pleasure yet? Well, you two are a match made in heaven. And, the vast majority of the organization agrees."

Flip comments aside, companies are considering making big bets on enterprise social technologies. For many organizations, particularly in North America and Western Europe, knowledge workers are the last real opportunity for competitive differentiation. Social technologies offer the promise of magnifying that differentiation and potentially in dramatic fashion. The question is how do you drive the cultural and organizational change that come with Enterprise 2.0 as quickly and efficiently as possible. At the end of the day, how do you go about setting up the best environment to drive those incredibly valuable serendipitous interactions?

Andrew McAfee, the father of Enterprise 2.0, recently blogged that the way to get to critical mass most quickly is to drop the pilot and go straight to enterprise deployment. While the conversation that followed was somewhat contentious (including some interesting discussion on a panel I was on at the Gilbane Conference yesterday) Andy's main contention is not up for debate. Social networks thrive on scale and critical mass. The more quickly and broadly that the social network evolves, the greater the  chance it has to thrive and ultimately produce those accidental and potentially magical interactions.

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IBM Productizes The Information Workplace With Case Management Offering

A few weeks ago IBM invited me to a day-long conference in San Francisco to preview a new product direction around case management. At first I was a bit hesitant because case management is a bit outside of my normal research agenda, but an old pal in IBM analyst relations convinced me to come over. It was well worth the time. What I saw was much more than I expected as IBM plans to productize a true Information Workplace offering around the pervasive business issue of case management. The concept of an Information Workplace, first presented by Forrester in 2005, is defined as:

  • A software platform now emerging to support all types of information workers by providing seamless, multimodal, contextual, mobile, right-time access to content, data, voice, processes, expertise, business intelligence, eLearning content, and other information through the use of portals, collaboration tools, business process management, content repositories, content analytics, taxonomies, search, information rights management, and other emerging technologies.
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Is SharePoint 2010 Social Ready For Prime Time?

This morning Microsoft launched SharePoint 2010, the follow-up to the very successful Microsoft Office SharePoint Server (MOSS) 2007. As the morning progresses, I receive more and more notifications from vendors that are announcing integration strategies for the new offering. Meanwhile, other vendors announce strategies to compete. The social computing vendors are no exception. No matter the strategy, it's clear that SharePoint is creating a market disruption that not only vendors but clients need to address in creating and updating broad collaboration strategies. Many Forrester clients have already begun this assessment process, as evidenced by my inquiry load over the past several months. One question has surfaced repeatedly:

Does SharePoint 2010 affect my plans for social in the enterprise?

Well, yes and no. Here's the 100,000 foot view. If you are committed to SharePoint you really need to take a look at what Microsoft delivers as part of 2010. For many, this release will reach the proverbial "good enough" bar.  MySites, already a decent profiling service, continues to improve. Blogs and wikis, which were pretty dismal in MOSS 2007, are quite well done. Key missing elements like tags, tag clouds, community sites and activity streams are now part of the offering. Microblogs, a hot top of mind topic at the moment, are not quite there yet. Interesting. As Twitter explodes and Yammer continues to gain ground in the enterprise, SharePoint comes up short in microblogging. The reason? At least for the time being, SharePoint is dependent on a pretty traditional development cycle and microblogging exploded pretty late in the product development cycle. In other words, SharePoint is now clearly in the social game, but will play the role of fast follower for the time being.

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The Information Workplace Gets Social

"Super, then you'll have plenty to talk about!"

                                           Greg Marmalard, Animal House

Collaboration and social technologies continue to be hot in 2010. In Forrester's 2009 Enterprise Software Survey, we asked respondents to rate the following on a scale of 1-5:

How important are the following software initiatives in supporting your firm's current business goals?

          -Increase deployment and use of collaboration technologies

58% answered 4 or 5. In conversations with clients, it's clear that as we exit the current recession and enter a new economy, firms are betting on knowledge workers to drive competitive differentiation in the same manner that they bet on technology to drive efficiency in the early to mid-90's. The trend is particularly strong in North America and Western Europe where big bets are being made on innovation, design and other differentiation that will derive from more efficient, better connected knowledge workers.

This trend indicates high level, organizational goals and is likely to be more dependent on sociology than technology. The truth of the matter is that firms that have made large investments in collaboration, particularly social technologies, and have not made an accompanying investment in driving organizational and cultural change, have struggled. Why then, the trend toward investments in collaboration technologies?

The answer is that technology will support the efforts in a very significant way. And, in the case of social technologies, 2010 will be a break out year. Why? The market is clearly hungry for solutions and the vendors are poised to deliver.

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Is There a Role For Pre-moderation In Internal Social Networks?

"Well, as of this moment, they're on double-secret probation!"

Dean Wormer, Faber College

Recently I have had a number of conversations regarding the role of pre-moderation of internal social networks. Just by way of explanation, pre-moderation would be the approval of all content (posts and comments) prior to posting. Over the past several years and hundreds of conversations with enterprise clients, this has rarely come up.

Just to be clear, there is risk associated with enterprise social networking. There is nothing about social technologies that precludes requirements for privacy, security, maintenance of intellectual capital, regulatory compliance, etc. However, given the right degree of attention, these all are manageable. In fact, over time, social technologies will reduce the risk associated with all of these (more on that later).

OK, so if anyone can say anything at anytime, that's risky right? Well, in thoery, but in reality, not really. Remember, we're talking about internal social networks. Presumably, these are IT sanctioned, authenticated solutions. In other words, everyone knows who you are. And, we can assume that with some degree of planning and education, your users will be aware of the policies that govern the environment. And if you post something not within policy, well you get put on probation (or maybe double-secret probation). Animal House references aside, many a fine internal social networking policy begins with "don't do anything that will get you fired".

There are three key points here:

  • One, provide a sanctioned solution for your organization because if you don't they may well find something on their own and that could be a whole different kind of trouble.
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Social means business

Rob-Koplowitz by Rob Koplowitz

Last week at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference we found more evidence of the changing nature of enterprise collaboration. Both customers and vendors provided evidence that social networking was quickly moving into the enterprise landscape and warrants the attention due a potential game changer. There are three trends that warrant attention:

  • Forward thinking organizations are developing broad collaboration strategies that embrace social networking while recognizing and managing associated risk. In fact, it is becoming clear that a well managed strategy with regard to social in the enterprise should lower risk associated privacy, security and compliance. Sounds counter-intuitive? Well, transparency is a beautiful thing.
  • The vendor landscape is vibrant. At many conferences these days, the standard refrain is "in this economy". Not here. Vendors are investing heavily in new capabilities and are being rewarded with robust business. 
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"He don't know it's a d---- show, he thinks it a d---- fight"

Rob-Koplowitz By Rob Koplowitz

Great line from Rocky, one of my favorite movies, as Apollo Creed's manager recognizes that the underdog needs to be taken more seriously. In this particular scenario Cisco is the underdog. I'm currently listening to Cisco's vision for collaboration and in this market, they are an underdog. Microsoft is the 800 pound gorilla and IBM is a pretty big beast as well. In a market dominated by a small number of software powerhouses, why do we want to take Cisco seriously? For a few reasons:

  1. The market is going through multiple disruptions: the move to the cloud, the move to unified communications, the increasingly pervasive adoption of Web 2.0 technologies, etc. A market in disruption is an opportunity.
  2. Cisco is already a player. Really. WebEx is a big part of many organization's collaboration portfolio and was the first commercially successful SaaS based collaboration offering. They own a lot of eyeballs and they are good at SaaS. The Jabber acquisition was a key move that is just beginning to show full value by delivering standards based presence and IM across the entire portfolio.
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