Gilbane – Industry Analyst Debate


What is the most important trend in the last 12 months?

  • Rob – What’s going on with clients in social enterprise. Pilots that have convinced organizations to pursue the technologies. New SharePoint from Microsoft. Companies committing to this as part of their enterprise strategy (manage products better, capture leads better, drive deep cultural change). Investment in this has grown in the past couple of years. Companies are making a big bet in doing these.
  • Scott – Barriers to entry are relatively low. Elimination of pilots since barrier to entry is so low. This is a very dangerous situation.
  • Tony – Hybridization of business models between open source (community development) and commercialization. The notion of “open” … there are a lot of ways to be open. People are getting more sophisticated and understanding trends of what it means.
  • Hadley – Extent of which the explosion of data has become analyzable; metrics are being applied; products are being designed and all of this is becoming visible in ways it never has before. There isn’t somebody in most organizations with the decision-making ability about what to do with all this data.

Semantic Web – Can people envision a point where people will have an open, semantic web profile?

  • Hadley – Not a big fan of using the semantic web term, because it may never be achievable. Microsoft was probably way ahead of the game with Passport years ago. Way of using the data footprint is going to emerge piece by piece in restricted domains. Doesn’t see it happening as an open profile that others may accept. Others may disagree about a central profile service. Dubious that it will occur any time soon.
  • Tony – Analagous situation going on behind the firewall you have a proliferating profile problem. Enterprises are trying to get things under control. Shoving it all into a directory service really doesn’t work either. Fight between platforms about who is going to own the profile and the activity stream.
  • Rob – We play multiple roles. We are different when we interact with vendors / partners vs. interacting internally. People are thinking about how to manage multiple roles within an enterprise.
  • Scott – Is having one profile positive or negative — do you really want recommendations on a website based on what you said on another site? Within the organization, can also be limited and put you in a bubble.
  • Tony – Where does the profile live? Definitive public profile is Facebook simply because of the API. When you can think of this of a service, you can hopefully have more transparency about who owns the data.

What are some user experience patterns?

  • Hayden – Google changing its user interface, so it’s more than just a simple search box and a long list of blue links. More customizations on user experience with things like product purchases, etc.
  • Rob – Have information workers, we’ve been taught not to share information. Information has been access controlled. Changing thinking that the default should be to share broadly and then think about what controls should be on it. How do I find the expertise to move forward? Not based on geography or team.
  • Tony – More task-oriented user interfaces vs. dashboard or control panel interfaces. “I want this to be easy like Google.” actually means “Understand what I need to do my job and don’t give me anything else.”
  • Scott – People are finally understanding that the web is not paper and that not everything has to be above the fold.

Discussion about pilots. Should we do pilots of social collaboration efforts? if you can’t get a critical mass of people to participate, you’re not going to get good data.

  • Tony – Critical mass is important. These types of projects are not inexpensive measures. You may also know about different employees / teams running pilots on their own. You do need to have critical mass – especially to people that have been underserved.
  • Scott – A pilot doesn’t have to be small. You can deploy it and have it be time-bound to get some experience before you mass deploy it.
  • Tony – Tendency to overweight the network effect. Extending things to the enterprise can bring many surprises. You need to know what you’re getting into. Old school – “build a little, test a little, build a little, test a little …”
  • Scott – There’s something to be said about passing the sniff test. All these things come and go – unrealized promises of IT.

What are we piloting? Is it an enterprise piece? Or is it a new feature on top of an existing platform?

We’re looking at pilot too much at the surface level.

Is there a life for specific social platforms or will they be integrated into other platforms?

  • Rob – You’re going to get social capabilities in a lot of different platforms. Oracle: social-enabling underlying other business applications. You’re going to see social add-ons to products within your organization. There is still the big piece that needs to be tested – Is there another layer that is social in nature? Consumer trends in the marketplace and bringing them in? There’s a bunch of vendors that are making the bet that they can become the vendor that they can become the social vendor in your enterprise.
  • Tony – Line between social and collaboration is blurring. Customers as asking about social as a service. Increasing concern about creating new silos. Can I get social as a layer? Set of services that aren’t necessarily around interacting but community as an application. Community vendors behind the firewall, particularly because this is an area that’s immature in Sharepoint 2010.
  • Scott – Answer varies whether you’re inside the firewall or outside the firewall. The company that figures how to incorporate all the information and use it to your advantage is going to win. Inside the enterprise, we still don’t know how to use that content and how to use it.
  • Hadley – Software is about human behavior. Every time we try to introduce software that tries to get people to collaborate better, we wind up with egg on our face. Social software will be like email. Look around, look at Facebook and Twitter and the pace of innovation. The interaction between the IT strategy (do I buy from a big vendor, do I look at a best of breed) collides with the corporate strategy about we’re going to foster knowledge exchange. There isn’t a single person deciding how the technology is going to evolve.
  • Scott – You have to have human policies considered. You want people to share, but the people that get promoted are the ones that hoard the information and don’t knowledge share.
  • Tony – You don’t want to say that technology is going to change human behavior, but you don’t want to be cynical the other way either.
  • Rob – Now is the time for innovation to happen with coming out of the recession and the millenials coming in to the picture. If it doesn’t happen now, it may never happen.