The State of Collaboration in 2015 - Collaboration Goals and Plans For the Future

January 28 2015 04:00:00 PM Add/Read Comments [0]
Constellation recently published our "State of Enterprise Technology" series of research reports. These reports assess the current state of the enterprise technologies Constellation has deemed significant to digital transformation. These reports also describe the future usage and evolution of these technologies. Constellation will continue to publish reports in our State of Enterprise Technology series throughout Q1.

The State of Collaboration in 2015 is my first contribution to this series of reports.  This report is designed to help you set benchmarks and prepare for your collaboration future. 

Here’s an excerpt from the report: 

The State of Collaboration in 2015 Shows Maturity in Market and User Adoption

2014 will be remembered as an inflection point where stand-alone tools began to give way to enterprise software with integrated collaboration features. Constellation defines this as Purposeful Collaboration, where social features are native features of the tools people use to get their jobs done. For 2015, the most significant improvement in these tools will be how they leverage vast amounts of information to help people make more informed decisions. It’s this intersection of collaboration and analytics that will propel the next level of employee productivity. 

Image:The State of Collaboration in 2015 - Collaboration Goals and Plans For the Future

Download the report snapshot and table of contents on the Constellation website

It’s Like Facebook For Work. Wait It Is Facebook For Work

January 15 2015 08:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [1]
On Jan 14th, Facebook officially announced their much rumoured Facebook at Work offering. This private version of the popular social network is designed to provide employees a place to collaborate securely with their colleagues. This sounds like a great idea, if it were still 2010.

Image:It’s Like Facebook For Work. Wait It Is Facebook For Work

In the late 2000s a shift began taking place that was commonly referred to as Enterprise 2.0, or E20. In E20 companies began adopting "social tools" such as blogs, wikis and activity streams to enable employees to communicate and collaborate more openly than they were doing via email. To explain this shift to potential buyers, early vendors such as Socialtext (where I was Director of Marketing), Yammer, SocialCast, Jive Software and others would use the analogy “It’s like a Facebook for the Enterprise". Even though forums and communities have been around since the 70s (the Well, AOL, Compuserve, etc.) a great deal of credit goes to Facebook, for popularising the modern era of social networking.

Around 2011/12 the theme os “Facebook for the Enterprise” began to evolve, as it was not resonating well with executives. They assumed this type of behaviour at work would be a waste of time, sating things like "Why would I want employees sharing pictures of what they had for lunch?" The lack of understanding of how social network could benefit businesses lead to my introducing of the theme of Purposeful Collaboration, where social features were integrated directly into the business tools people use to get their jobs done. Organizations realised that employees need social to be part of the way people work, not a separate destination to go to. This has led to vendors such as SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Infor, IBM, Microsoft (who acquired Yammer) and others have made sharing, commenting and liking native features of their CRM, ERP, HR and other business applications.

Fast forward to today, where Google has struggled to gain mainstream enterprise adoption of Google+ and vendors like Slack, Glip, Hall, Unify (formerly Siemens) and Cisco have started to blend collaboration and unified communication. So, is Facebook's announcement too little, too late? Not necessarily. Below are a few of the pros and cons of Facebook at Work.


- Name Recognition
: Facebook is "the standard" when it comes to social networking. Like it or not, it's a household name. You know the saying "fish where the fish are", well almost everyone is familiar with Facebook to some degree. Sure the demographics are changing and younger people are avoiding Facebook because it's for old people... but those "old people" are the workers of today so why not provide them Facebook at Work?
- Familiar User Experience:
Yes, Facebook has had several hiccups when it comes to the design of their timeline, but they remain one of the key influencers on how people use activity streams/news feeds. Since people are already familiar with it, employers can save time and money by avoiding education and training on a new tool. As my colleague Holger Mueller points out, Facebook's popularity forces other vendors to improve their products, which is a win for users.
- Large Partner Ecosystem:
Perhaps the biggest plus Facebook has going is the massive ecosystem of developers than know their API and can build add-on tools. While most of the current apps are games, it's not a far stretch to image a shift from Farmville and Candy Crush integration to add-ons for SAP, Salesforce, file sharing, web-conferencing, and other business tools.
- Bridging Employee to Customer engagement:
Today many companies already have a "business relationship" with Facebook via their company's Facebook Page. Facebook could provide a compelling solution that bridges private employees conversations with the ones taking place with customers. So for example, a support team could see a question on the company Facebook page and route it to the right product manager to get an answer. Note: I'm not saying this bridging exists today, I'm saying it could be a useful feature if Facebook delivered it.
- Application Assets:
Facebook has several applications outside of the news feed that could provide the foundation for a useful business platform. These include: Messenger (for chatting/voip/video calls), Instagram (photos and videos), Paper (displaying news/content) and Events (calendar).
- Massive Mobile Usage:
a very high percentage of Facebook usage comes from mobile devices such as phones and tablets. Facebook's experience in this area could be a strong selling point to organizations who's employees require anytime/anywhere access.


- Enterprise Software Is Not Consumer Software:
Often when consumer companies try and break into the business world they fail to understand that companies have different requirements than individuals. Organizations have to deal with things like auditing and compliance, accessibility, multiple language support, directory integration, administration of people and groups and billing/usage reports. Facebook will need to show that they can meet these business requirements before business will use them for work.
- No Purposeful Collaboration:
As mentioned above, companies have shifted away from just wanting a social networking to wanting collaboration tools that integrate with the tools employees use to do their jobs. For Facebook at Work to be successful, they are going to need to provide integration with CRM, ERP, HR, Customer Service/Support, Marketing, Finance and other business software. They will also need to have integrated with functions such as project/task management, file sharing, and web conferencing. This con can be linked to the pro above of partner ecosystem, as the lack of these things provides opportunity for partners to fill in the gaps. The Facebook Custom Stories platform (Open Graph) already has the framework for these integrations, no people just need to build them.
- Lack of Vertical Expertise:
It's not enough to just provide a single collaboration platform and try and have it fit all use-cases. Winning collaboration vendors understand the specific needs of industries such as Healthcare, Finance Services, Legal, Manufacturing, Entertainment, Government, etc.  Facebook will need to build teams in each of these areas if they hope to sell into specific industries.
- Privacy Concerns:
Warranted or not, most people have concerns about what Facebook does with their information. While Facebook has stated that you will have to switch IDs between personal and work, they still have a lot of work to do to convince organizations that their sensitive and confidential corporate data will be safe on Facebook's servers. The last thing a company wants is an employee "accidentally" posting something publically that they thought was being posted internally.
- Insufficient Search:
One of the most important aspects of enterprise software is search. Employees need to be able to find the people, content and conversations they need to get their jobs done. While Facebook is steadily improving their search, it is still very cumbersome compared to most enterprise software. Contrast that to the type of analytics based search and filtering that companies like Microsoft and IBM are now offering, and Facebook has a lot of catching up to do. That said, Facebook's Graph Search has the potential to be quite powerful, so let's see where Facebook takes this in their At Work offering.
- Go To Market Channel:
While many business today are using Facebook for marketing, the people who are paying for those Ads and managing Brand pages are not the same people that will be purchasing enterprise wide collaboration licenses. Facebook will need to find a way to reach people with buying authority, whether they reside in IT, LOB, or the executive office.
- Customer Support:  
Today Facebook support is primarily an online help knowledge base. They will need a much more robust support organization in order for organizations to feel comfortable using them for critical business communications.
- Pricing:
Currently no pricing has been set, but if organizations are already paying for something like Microsoft Office 365 or Google Apps (both of which include social networking) then they will be weary of spending additional funds.
- Competition:
Perhaps the biggest hurdle is that there are already so many collaboration solutions available. The list I maintain of social software vendors contains over 50 companies, and (sadly) it is very out of date. Many of these vendors have a decade or more experience providing collaboration solutions, so Facebook may have a considerable challenge on their hands winning deals against these vendors. On the other hand, even after a decade of tools being available the market is so fragmented and no one vendor dominates the space. So perhaps Facebook can capitalise on their name recognition and win a decent percentage of deals. Time will tell.


Overall, I support Facebook entering the business market. They have a product already used by a billion plus people at home, certainly some percentage of those people will be happy also using it for work. I think they chose the right name, "At Work" versus something like "Facebook for the Enterprise", as I don't predict any large organizations will adopt this. There are just too many other choices for them that are better suited to meet the needs or large companies.  However, the millions of small businesses that don't have IT departments and may already be using Facebook as part of their marketing efforts may be quite happy using Facebook for secure employee collaboration.

My advice to Facebook, spend 2015 partnering with large enterprise software vendors so that you can announce integrations that prove the validity of Facebook at Work as a platform people can really use to get their jobs done.

Constellation Research realises that this is just the first release, and we look forward to working with Facebook and their business customers to help move their collaboration offerings forward.

My Greatest Collaboration

January 1 2015 11:00:00 PM Add/Read Comments [9]
Toronto Ontario, Dec 30th 2014 4:22am - Lepofsky Inc. released their newest product, Isabelle Jordyn Lepofsky. Isabelle, also known as Serafina in Hebrew, was under development for a little more than 9 months and entered the world weighing 7lbs 11ozs. Executive VP of Engineering, Samara Lepofsky is doing great after an incredible evening of pushing to get the product shipped.

Chief Fathering Officer Alan Lepofsky was beaming with joy about the new release. "I know version 1 has minimal features, but she's still the greatest 'social business' I've ever been part of. We're excited about the future roadmap which includes rolling over, sitting up, walking, talking and breaking hearts."

"It was wonderful collaborating with Alan on the creation of Issy, but I'm happy to be out of development and beginning the growth phase." - Samara

The staff at Lepo Inc. wants to thank everyone for their support during development and delivery. Stay tuned for more information about Isabelle coming soon.

Image:My Greatest Collaboration

*For my non-tech friends and family, the press release style announcement is a joke related to my job.

9 Actions For Your Digital Strategy

December 23 2014 01:41:34 PM Add/Read Comments [2]
The following is reported from it's original source at Constellation Research

This year end checklist offers suggestions designed to enable you to take control of your digital strategy in 2015. Consider these actions to ensure you dominate digital disruption in the new year. 

1. Matrix Commerce: Scrub your data
By Guy Courtin

When it comes to Matrix Commerce, companies need to focus on the basics first. What are the basics? Cleaning up and getting your data in order. Much is discussed about the evolution of supply chains and the surrounding technologies. However these solutions are only as useful as the data that feeds them. Many CxOs that we have spoken to have discussed the need to focus on cleaning up their data. First work on a data audit to identify the most important sources of data for your efforts in Matrix Commerce. Second, focus on the systems that can process and make sense of this data. Finally, determine the systems and business processes that will be optimized with these improvements. Matrix Commerce starts with the right data. The systems and business processes that layer on top of this data are only as useful as the data. CxOs must continue to organize and clean their data house.

2. Safety and Privacy - Create your Enterprise Information Asset Inventory
By Steve Wilson

In 2015, get on top of your information assets.  When information is the lifeblood of your business, make sure you understand what really makes it valuable.  Create (or refresh) your Enterprise Information Asset Inventory, and then think beyond the standard security dimensions of Confidentiality, Integrity and Availability.  What sets your information apart from your competitors?  Is it more complete, more up-to-date, more original or harder to acquire? To maximise the value of information, innovative organisations are gauging it in terms of utility, currency, jurisdictional certainty, privacy compliance and whatever other facets matter the most in their business environment. These innovative organizations structure their information technology and security functions to not merely protect the enterprise against threats, but to deliver the right data when and where it's needed most.  Shifting from defensive security to strategic informatics is the key to success in the digital economy. Learn more about creating an information asset inventory. 

3. Data to Decisions - Create your Big Data Plan of Action 
By Andy Mulholland

Big Data is arriving at the end of the hype cycle. In 2015, real-time decision support using ‘smart data’ extracted from Big Data will manifest as a requirement for competitiveness. Digital Business, or even just online sellers, are all reducing reaction and response times. Enterprises have huge business and technology investments in data that need to support their daily activities better, so its time to pivot from using Big Data for analysis and start examining how to deliver Smart Data to users and automated online systems. What is Smart Data? Well, let's say creating your organization's definition of Smart Data is priority number one in your Big Data strategy.  Transformation in Digital markets requires a transformation in the competitive use of Big Data. Request a meeting with Constellation's CTO in residence, Andy Mulholland. 

4. Next Gen CXP - Make Customer Experience Instinctual  
By Natalie Petouhoff

STOP thinking of Customer Experience as a functional or departmental initiative and start thinking about experience from the customer’s point of view. 
Customers don’t distinguish between departments when they require service from your organization. Customer Experience is a responsibility shared amongst all employees. However, the division of companies into functional departments with separate goals means that customer experience is often fractured. Rid your company of this ethos in 2015 by using design thinking to create a culture of cohesive customer experience. 
Ensure all employees live your company mythology, employ the right customer and internal-facing technologies, collect the right data, and make changes to your strategy and products as soon as possible.  Read "Five Approaches to Drive Customer Loyalty in a Digital World".

5. Future of Work - Take Advantage of Collaboration
By Alan Lepofsky

Over the last few years, there has been a growing movement in the way people communicate and collaborate with their colleagues and customers, shifting from closed systems like email and chat, to more transparent tools like social networks and communities. That trend will continue in 2015 as people become more comfortable with sharing and as collaboration tools become more integrated with the business software they use to get their jobs done. Employees should familiarize themselves with the tools available to them, and learn how to pick the right tool for each of the various scenarios that make up their work day.  Read "Enterprise Collaboration: From Simple Sharing to Getting Work Done".

6. Future of Work - Prepare for Demographic Shifts
By Holger Mueller

In the next ten years 10% to 20% of the North American and European workforce will retire. Leaders need to understand and prepare for this tremendous shift so performance remains steady as many of the workforce's highly skilled workers retire.
To ensure smooth a smooth transition, ensure your HCM software systems can accommodate a massive number of retirements, successions and career path developments, and new hires from external recruiting. 
Constellation fully expects employment to be a sellers market going forward. People leaders should ensure their HCM systems facilitate employee motivation, engagement and retention, lest they lose their best employees to competitors. Read "Globalization, HR, and Business Model Success". Additional cloud HR case studies here and here

7. Digital Marketing Transformation - Brand Priorities Must Convey Authenticity
By R "Ray" Wang

Brand authenticity must dominate digital and analog channels in 2015. Digital personas must not only reflect the brand, but also expand upon the analog experience. Customers love the analog experience, so deliver the same experience digitally. Brand conscious leaders must invest in the digital experience with an eye towards mass personalization at scale.  While advertising plays a key role in distributing the brand message, investment in the design of digital experiences presents itself as a key area of investment for 2015. Download free executive brief: Can Brands Keep Their Promise?

8. Consumerization of IT: Use Mobile as the Gateway to Digital Transformation Projects
By R "Ray" Wang

Constellation believes that mobile is more than just the device. While smartphones and other devices are key enablers of 'mobile', design in digital transformation should take into account how these technologies address the business value and business model transformation required to deliver on breakthrough innovation. If you have not yet started your digital transformation or are considering using mobile as an additional digital transformation point, Constellation recommends that clients assess how a new generation of enterprise mobile apps can change the business by identifying a cross-functional business problem that cannot be solved with linear thinking, articulating the business problem and benefit, showing how the solution orchestrates new experiences, identifying how analytics and insights can fuel the business model shift, exploiting full native device features, and seeking frictionless experiences. You'll be digital before you know it. Read "Why the Third Generation of Enterprise Mobile is Designed for Digital Transformation"

9. Technology Optimization & Innovation - Prepare Your Public Cloud Strategy
By Holger Mueller

In 2015 technology leaders will need to create, adjust and implement their public cloud strategy. Considering estimates pegging Amazon AWS at 15-20% of virtualized servers worldwide, CIOs and CTOs need to actively plan and execute their enterprise’s strategy vis-à-vis the public cloud. Reducing technical debt and establishing next generation best practices to leverage the new ‘on demand’ IT paradigm should be a top priority for CIOs and CTOs seeking organizational competitiveness, greater job security and fewer budget restrictions. 

Dominate digital disruption in 2015. Join Constellation Executive Network for exclusive research, advisory, and events. 

Interested in Collaboration Software? Then Think About These Things

December 22 2014 12:30:00 PM Add/Read Comments [0]
As 2014 comes to a close, here are ten things for organizations to think in regards to collaboration software as we head into 2015.

Of course there are more areas such as application development, partner ecosystem and security.  Which of the items in the video to you agree or disagree with?  What's missing?

Here is a graphical summary of the video above.

Image:Interested in Collaboration Software? Then Think About These Things

Constellation Research Named Top Firm of 2014

December 20 2014 09:44:27 AM Add/Read Comments [0]
Thank you to our amazing customers and to my hard working colleagues for making Constellation Research the #1 Independent Analyst Firm of 2014.

Image:Constellation Research Named Top Firm of 2014

More information about the Institute of Industry Analyst Relations, visit their site here.

Happy 25th Birthday Lotus Notes

November 27 2014 12:25:03 PM Add/Read Comments [12]
My career in technology began in May 1993 when I was a coop student at IBM Canada. My responsibilities there were spilt between AS/400 tasks and setting up this new groupware thing called Lotus Notes. Well today Lotus Notes celebrates its 25th birthday.

Image:Happy 25th Birthday Lotus Notes
Image taken from Mat Newman's blog.

It's amazing how pioneering Notes was in creating the industry that we today call ‪"social business." I, along with many of my friends and colleagues owe our careers to Lotus Notes.

Let's look back at some of the things Notes did, oh so many years ago:

: Long before Apple made the slogan "There's an app for that" popular, Lotus Notes users spent their days clicking on little square icons each representing a different business application. These applications included CRM tools, inventory control, project management and thousands of other uses.

: Long before two-factor authentication sent text messages to your phone to help secure logins, Lotus Notes required not only a password, but that you had an actual ID file on your computer. Notes has built in encryption which still protects data better than many of today's collaboration tools do. Notes has granular access control lists (ACLs) for each application (database) providing a range of user roles ranging from Depositor to Manager. Notes uses execution control lists (ECLs) to control what programs can and can't do on your behalf. (think of it like today's "permissions" in mobile apps) Notes even provides field level security via reader/author name fields on forms. These features are mainly invisible to users, but provide an incredible level of security.

Long before people starting "syncing content to the cloud", Lotus Notes enabled people to "replicate" data between their computer and the server that hosted their applications and mail. This local replication enabled people to use their mail and apps even when disconnected from the network. (i.e. offline)

Long before "mobile" was an industry buzzword, Lotus Notes apps ran on phones and PDAs. Yes, it was mainly Palm Pilots and BlackBerry's back then, but it was still amazing for the time.

What do you think Lotus Notes greatest strength was? (is?)

Sadly, I barely use Lotus Notes anymore, but I still respect how ahead of its time it was, and in some ways still is. I'm constantly hearing pitches from "hot new startups" that are trying to do things Notes did 20+ years ago. I've posted this poster from 1991 several times, but let's review it once more.  Just replace a few words and this could be any collaboration vendor's current marketing campaign.

Notes from Lotus

Until now, most PC software was designed for individuals using individual PCs. But today, more and more people are working in teams on networked PCs that require a new kind of software.  Software that lets them quickly share ideas and information no matter where, when or how they work.

Enter Lotus Notes.

The first software than actually thrives on the fact that people need to work together to be effective.  Lotus Notes creates a new communications environment where users can develop applications - for sales tracking, project management, customer service, and free form discussions of all kinds - and routinely access and share this information from their desktop to anyone, anywhere in the world.  In fact, no other software maximizes your investments in networked PCs like Lotus Notes.

After all, helping people work together is what Lotus does best.  

Image:Happy 25th Birthday Lotus Notes