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The Top 10 Enterprise 2.0 Stories of 2008

The enterprise 2.0 space saw good action this year. I’ve had a chance to see it up close, starting the year with BEA Systems (now Oracle) and closing out the year with Connectbeam. I think it’s fair to say that in 2007, social software was still something of a missionary sale. In 2008, company inquiries increased a lot. The burden still falls on the vendors to articulate business benefits, adoption strategies and use cases. But enterprise customers are now partners in this work.

So let’s get to it. Here are my top ten stories for the year:

1. Activity Streams

Facebook really got this going with its newsfeed, and FriendFeed took it to an art form with its lifestreaming service. In 2008, many vendors added activity streams to their applications: Connectbeam, BEA Systems, Atlassian, SocialText, Jive Software and others.  Activity streams are great for improving awareness of colleagues’ activities, and adding a new searchable object: actions.

2. Forrester’s $4.6 Billion Forecast

Forrester Research made a splash with its forecast that Enterprise 2.0 will be a $4.6 billion market by 2013. The ReadWriteWeb story about it has been bookmarked to Del.icio.us 386 times and counting. Forrester’s projections provided a solid analytical framework for the different tools, used internally and externally. According to the analysis, social networking will be the most popular tool for companies. Whether you buy the forecast or not, they remain the best-known, most visible numbers to date.

3. Oracle Beehive

Larry Ellison is fond of essentially dismissing SaaS. He does not have Oracle invest much in the trend. But Oracle did seem to embrace Enterprise 2.0 in a big way this year with Beehive, which is an “integrated set of collaboration services.”  The New York Times quotes Oracle EVP  Chuck Rozwat: “It is a product we built from scratch over the last three years.” Now since Oracle is a huge enterprise software company, there’s plenty of skepticism about the capabilities and innovation of Beehive. But there’s no denying that Oracle has the ear of the enterprise, and picks up a lot of market intelligence through its customer base. While Beehive itself may or may not succeed, the idea that Oracle came out with Beehive was a big story.

4. AIIM/McKinsey Surveys

Research and consulting firms AIIM and McKinsey each came out with surveys of corporate interest in enterprise 2.0. The AIIM survey looked at levels of awareness and interest among different Enterprise 2.0 technologies. AIIM also took a fairly expansive view of social software. The top 3 “Enterprise 2.0” technologies in terms of corporate awareness? Email, instant messaging, search. That’s actually a funny list, yet there are lessons there for vendors and consultants in the social software industry. If those are entrenched, can you play nicely with them? One other quote I like from the report:

This study of 441 end users found that a majority of organizations recognize Enterprise 2.0 as critical to the success of their business goals and objectives, but that most do not have a clear understanding of what Enterprise 2.0 is.

McKinsey’s survey of enterprises looked at the interest in various tools as well. It also asked respondents what the leading barriers were for success of social software initiatives. Top three were: (1) Lack of understanding for their financial return; (2) Company culture; (3) Insufficient incentives to adopt or experiment with the tools.

5. Facebook Co-Founder Leaves to Start an Enterprise 2.0 Company

Facebook co-founder Dustin Moskovitz and colleague Justin Rosenstein announced they were leaving the hot consumer social network to start a new company. The new company will “build an extensible enterprise productivity suite,” with the goal of “making companies themselves run better.” Why would these young guys, sitting on top of the leader in consumer social networking, choose to exit? As I wrote at the time:

The Enterprise 2.0 market is still quite nascent and fragmented. Combine that industry profile with projected spending in the category, and suddenly you understand why these guys are striking out on their own.

Assuming they’ll be able to tap the mother ship for help, I think this was a fairly important story this year.

6. Microblogging Enters the Enterprise

Joining wikis, blogs, social bookmarking and other incumbent tools this year was microblogging . Given the way Twitter is used by Enterprise 2.0 aficionados, and is enjoying skyrocketing popularity, it’s no surprise we started seeing microblogging emerge for internal use. At the mostly consumer-focused TechCrunch50, enterprise microblogging start-up Yammer won the top prize. Other start-ups in the category include SocialCast and Present.ly. SocialText added microblogging with its release of Signals.

7. Gartner Narrows its Criteria for Social Software

Gartner came out with its Social Software Magic Quadrant in October. As SageCircle notes:

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is probably the iconic piece of analyst research. With its visibility and status, it also has enormous influence on vendor sales opportunities, especially when it comes time for IT buyers to draw up the all-important vendor short lists.

So it was with great interest when I read that Gartner had narrowed the criteria for whom it puts in the Magic Quadrant:

Added blogs and wikis to the functionality requirements

The effect of that is to establish those two tools as the de facto standard for enterprise social software inside the enterprise. To the extent corporate buyers are listening to Gartner for signals about the market, this will make it a bit more challenging for start-ups with interesting offerings that address other parts of the social software market. Yammer, for instance, won’t make it into their Magic Quadrant.

8. Enterprise RSS Fails to Take Off

RSS is one of those technologies that you know has huge value, and yet continues to struggle for awareness and adoption. Google tracks the leading “what is” searches. The fifth most popular on its list? “What is RSS?” Take that as both good and bad. Good that people want to know, bad that awareness continues to be a struggle.

Forrester analyst Oliver Young has a sharp write-up that shows enterprise RSS did not expand inside companies as many had thought it would this year. As he notes:

Of the three enterprise RSS vendors selling into this space at the start of 2008: KnowNow went out of business completely; NewsGator shifted focus and now leads with its Social Sites for SharePoint offering, while its Enterprise Server catches much less attention; and Attensa has been very quiet this year.

RSS is a great way to distribute content inside companies, but its ongoing limited adoption was a big non-story for the year.

9. IBM and Intel Issue Employee Social Media Guidelines

IBM and Intel each established guidelines for their employees who participate in social media. As I wrote, this essentially was a deputization of employees as brand managers out on the web. These market leaders were essentially saying, “have at it out there on blogs, social networks, Twitter, etc. But make sure you know the company’s expectations.” These guidelines represent a milestone in large enterprises’ comfort with social media. I expect we’ll see more of this in 2009.

10. The Recession

This affects all industries, globally, of course. And Enterprise 2.0 is no exception. Jive Software made news with its layoffs, but the effect was industry-wide. And of course, corporate buyers aren’t immune either.

Those are my ten. Did I miss a big story for 2008? Add your thoughts in the comments.

If you’re interested in tracking what happens in 2009, I encourage you to join the Enterprise 2.0 Room on FriendFeed. It is a centralized location for tweets and Del.icio.us bookmarks that specifically relate to Enterprise 2.0.

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My Ten Favorite Tweets – Week Ending 112108

From the home office in Manila, Philippines…

#1: “If a mind is always open, it never finishes anything. If it’s always closed, it never starts.” – Scott Berkun, The Myths of Innovation

#2: @pico On FriendFeed? Attention on FriendFeed (for non A-Listers) is driven by: being interactive + decent-to-great content.

#3: Observation: E2.0 crowd is much more active on Twitter than FriendFeed: (1) established connections, (2) conversations, (3) broadcast.

#4: @pico It’s kind of a parallel to enterprise 2.0 in general. E2.0 tracks what happens in Web 2.0, with a 2 year delay. Web 2.0 is the filter.

#5: Just showed my colleague how I’ve got my FriendFeed Enterprise 2.0 List up on my monitor via real-time. His reaction? “Gotta show me how!”

#6: Reading: Why doesn’t anyone care about HP? http://bit.ly/16dEB

#7: @jeffmann The Gartner MQ for social software available in full without registration here: http://bit.ly/gs6dH

#8: Preso best practice = mostly pix, few words. Great for in-person presentations. But Slideshare versions lose context w/ single word slides.

#9: Wow, now my LinkedIn profile is pimped out with my blog posts and Slideshare. Really, really cool what LinkedIn is doing.

#10: RT @THE_REAL_SHAQ Sittin next to steve nash, tryna get hi to join twitter >> Twitter’s viral nature is everywhere…

*****

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Notes on Presenting to Gartner…and That Magic Quadrant Thing

I had the opportunity to create and lead a presentation to Gartner last week, on behalf of my company Connectbeam. Now if you don’t about Gartner, the one thing to know is that Gartner’s analyses are used by organizations as decision criteria for purchases. Gartner affects how a lot of IT money gets spent.

So naturally, enterprise vendors are quite interested in how they are viewed by the respective Gartner analysts covering their sector. In fact, here’s how analyst relations strategy firm SageCircle describes it:

Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is probably the iconic piece of analyst research. With its visibility and status, it also has enormous influence on vendor sales opportunities, especially when it comes time for IT buyers to draw up the all-important vendor short lists.

For an amazing review of the whole Gartner Magic Quadrant (MQ) phenomenon, make sure you read SageCircle’s 7-part series about the MQ.

And here’s what a Magic Quadrant looks like:

The MQ focuses on two dimensions. Here’s a description of them from CMS Wire:

  • Ability to execute: This criteria measures an organization’s success at selling and supporting both its products and services from a global perspective
  • Completeness of vision: This criteria deals with a company’s potential and helps to separate the vendors who are focused solely on the short-term from the vendors who have a more long-term view of their market

Yes, it’s a simple graph. But so much magic occurs to determine where companies fall on the X and Y axes of the MQ. For reference, Forrester Research has its own version of this, called the Wave.

Presenting Connectbeam to Gartner

In my previous jobs in technology, I’d only been exposed to one major analyst briefing. I had the good fortune to sit in on BEA Systems briefing to Forrester about our portals and enterprise 2.0 offerings. That particular session, which lasted several hours, was led by the head of marketing for the Business Interaction Division, Jay Simons. Jay did a wonderful job leading the Forrester guys through the BEA product and roadmap.

But now for Connectbeam, it was on me. What should we present to Gartner? I hadn’t read any good information on the specifics of what points to make to Gartner. But I did remember some points from the BEA presentation several months back.

After the usual iterations, dead ends and inspirations that characterize presentation building, I settled on three core points:

  1. Our latest release. Connectbeam recently GA’d Spotlight 3.0. Pretty important to talk about that.
  2. Our roadmap and vision. I didn’t think about the MQ as I did this, it just seemed a natural for talking with industry thought leaders. Where are we heading?
  3. Our customers. The idea here is that Gartner needs to know how you’re tracking. It turns out this was some of the most engaged conversation during our hour-long presentation.

The presentation seemed to go well. I personally enjoyed the chance to talk with these guys, because they’re smart and focused on the enterprise 2.0 sector. They just know stuff. Thanks to analyst Jeffrey Mann for tweeting about the meeting.

We originally anticipated two analysts from Gartner, ended up with four. It’s only now that I realize that the next enterprise social software Magic Quadrant is targeted for a 4th quarter release. Perhaps that’s why we had a larger attendance, but I’m not expecting Connectbeam to be in this MQ. We’re really just starting to maintain a dialogue with Gartner.

I know this is an area of focus for a lot of companies. Thought I’d share this experience, in case others are talking with Gartner or other firms. If you’re interested in talking more about it, feel free to connect with me through Twitter or LinkedIn (links are also on the right side of this blog).

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