PeopleLinx Pivots To Social Selling

August 13 2014 12:00:00 PM Add/Read Comments [0]
Yesterday's launch of PeopleLinx version 3 represents an important evolution for the company, as they shift their platform from being LinkedIn-centric to broader platform for helping Sales Professionals do their job.

When I first met with PeopleLinx, the company was focused on helping businesses improve their employee's LinkedIn profiles. The idea was that employees are embassadors of the company they work for and therefore their LinkedIn profiles should properly represent their employer. That never resonated well with me, as in my opinion, my LinkedIn profile represents me, not the company I work for.

With V3, I'm happy to report that PeopleLinx has now evolved their vision and product to be part of the fast growing "Social Selling" market. What that means is, PeopleLinx examined the end-to-end workflow that Sales Professionals go through from lead generation to signing new customers, and is providing tools to help various steps along the way.  At the moment the company is focused on the areas of content distribution and employee training or guidance, but their roadmap includes much more.

For content distribution, PeopleLinx is providing a way for employees to share content with their connections on various social networks.  For example, say the Marketing department creates a new product brochure. They can upload that content to PeopleLinx and each Sales Professional can then share (via social media) the brochure with their prospects and customers.  PeopleLinx then tracks the sharing of that content, providing a dashboard for monitoring the combined activity.

Image:PeopleLinx Pivots To Social Selling

On the employee training side, PeopleLinx guides (and tracks) employees through a set of steps that their company has configured.  As you can see below, each step has an action for the employee to take, which they can either dismiss or mark as completed.

Image:PeopleLinx Pivots To Social Selling

MyPOV: The Challenge of Yet-Another-Tool

There are several impressive things about PeopleLinx. They have invested a lot of time with their customers to understand what they need to make their sales teams more organized, better connected, and consistent in delivery. V3 is a step in the right direction in delivering on those needs. They have also invested heavily in user experience / design. The product is simply yet powerful, clean yet highly functional.

The challenge I see is that PeopleLinx is "Yet-Another-Tool".  It is not the company intranet, email client, social network, file-sharing tool, project management platform, CRM package, social media monitor, etc. It's an additional tool that Sales Professionals will have to add to their ever expanding toolset (both on desktop and mobile) and that may not be something people are looking to do. I'd like to see PeopleLinx partner with some of the key social business vendors, enabling them to surface their content sharing and guided tasks inside the company intranet, social network or task system.  

There are several players in the Social Selling market, including vendors like Nimble, Contatta, Tellwise, RelateIQ (now owned by, Crushpath, TinderBox, Clearslide and many more. The product that can offer the most seamless (integrated) experience across all the tasks that busy sales professionals have to do, while at their desk and on the road, is the one that has the best chance of winning.

What Do You Like and Dislike About Mobile Computing

August 2 2014 01:04:54 PM Add/Read Comments [10]
Love it or hate it, mobile computing is (has) dramatically changed the way we work. In my opinion, working mobile means more than just using phones and tablets, it's any time you're doing your job away from your standard office environment. Being mobile could mean using your laptop in your backyard or at a coffee shop. It could be virtual desktops shared from one machine to another, or via a kiosk. It could mean a screen in your car or in an airplane. It could be wearable technology like glasses, watches, or clothing. Dream big!

Image:What Do You Like and Dislike About Mobile Computing

So I have two questions for you:

1) What are the 3 biggest advantages mobile access provides in helping you get your job done?

2) What are the 3 biggest challenges you have getting your job done while working mobile?

Your answers could be technical, cultural, financial, or anything else.

Thank you for your replies.

People, Places and Things

August 2 2014 06:15:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]
Everything old is new again...

In response to my Tweet

Joel Demay pointed out to me that Facebook's Graph Search helps you search for people, places and things...

Image:People, Places and Things

Which was the main focus of Lotus's ~1999-2002 Knowledge Management efforts. "People, Places & Things as the three essential ingredients of an effective Knowledge Management infrastructure"
I especially like how together they support relationships and community, all within the context of what you're working on.

Sound familiar?

Image:People, Places and Things

Oracle Adds LinkedIn Support To Their Social Publishing Platform

July 19 2014 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [3]
This past week at Oracle's Marketing Cloud Interact 2014 conference they announced the addition of LinkedIn as one of the destinations that their Social Relationship Management (SRM) platform can publish articles to. The Oracle Social Marketing Cloud Service (OSMCS) enables marketing professionals to create, publish and monitor content across multiple web sites from a single location. The new LinkedIn capability expands the existing Facebook, Twitter, Google+ and Youtube destinations.  

Image 1: Easily publish to multiple destinations at the same time

MyPOV: As the number of social media and social networking sites increases, marketing professionals have an increasingly difficult time making sure their content reaches the correct audience via all the right channels. LinkedIn Company and Showcase pages are an important destination for brands, so at a time where LinkedIn is removing access to their API from almost all partners, this new feature is an excellent addition for Oracle customers.

Image 2: Configure workflow and see preview for content will look at each destination

Collaborative Marketing Campaigns

Since its inception, Oracle Social Network (OSN) has always been focused on integration with Oracle's core business applications such as CRM, ERP, HR, etc. While engaging with customers and prospects happens outside an organization's firewall, it's important than employees be able to collaborate internally as they plan and track their marketing efforts. Constellation Research expects to see Oracle showcase deep integration between OSN and the various Oracle Marketing Cloud products (Eloqua, Responsys, BlueKai, etc.) later this year at Oracle OpenWorld.

Is Your Company An Awesome Showcase For Purposeful Collaboration?

July 8 2014 12:30:00 PM Add/Read Comments [3]
Call for Applications for 2014 SuperNova Awards for Leaders in Disruptive Technology
Deadline August 1, 2014

In its fourth year, the Constellation SuperNova Awards will recognise seven individuals who demonstrate true innovation through their application and adoption of new and emerging technologies. As always, we’re searching for leaders and teams who have overcome the odds to successfully apply emerging and disruptive technologies for their organizations. Special emphasis will be given to projects that seek to redefine how the enterprise uses technology on a large scale.

We’re searching for the boldest, most transformative technology projects out there. Applications will be judged by Constellation analysts and some of the most influential thought leaders in enterprise technology.   If you or someone you know has what it takes to compete in the SuperNova Awards, fill out the application here.  

Learn more about last year's winners:
  • Future of Work - Greg Hicks, Director IT, Social and Collaborative Innovation, UnitedHealth Group
  • Next Generation Customer Experience - Pierre Bourbonniere, Head of Marketing, La Société de transport de Montréal (STM)
  • Digital Marketing Transformation - Karen Simmons, Senior Director, Enterprise Data Warehouse, Kelley Blue Book Co., Inc.
  • Data to Decisions - Roman Coba, Chief Information Officer, McCain Foods Limited
  • Consumerization of IT & The New C-Suite - Chris Plescia, IT Leader, Collaboration, Nationwide
  • Matrix Commerce - Alan Hilburn, Director – IT Transportation & Operations, PSC, LLC
  • Technology Optimization & Innovaton - Don Whittington, Vice president and CIO, Florida Crystals Corporation

About the SuperNova Awards

The Constellation SuperNova Awards are the first and only awards to celebrate the leaders and teams who have overcome the odds to successfully apply emerging and disruptive technologies for their organizations.  We at Constellation know advancing the adoption of disruptive technology is not easy. Disruptive technology adoption often faces resistance from supporters of the status quo, myopia, and financial constraint. We believe actors fighting these forces to champion disruptive technology within their organizations help, not only their organizations, but society as a whole to realize the potential of new and emerging technologies.
This annual search for innovators includes an all star judging panel, substantial prizes, invite-only admission and speaking opportunities at Constellation's premier innovation summit - Connected Enterprise.

Who can enter?

The awards are open to end users only. End users at vendor companies may enter the awards.  Vendors and agencies may submit on their customer's behalf but must enter their customer's details and have their approval. We will disqualify any vendor applications without end user contact information.

Who should enter?

If you have overcome the odds to successfully implement a disruptive technology solution in your organization, we want to hear your story! Special attention is paid to implementation stories involving overcoming adversity and resulting in business model transformation.
Apply now:

Judging Process

The judging process is comprised of two phases.
  • Phase I: Judging panel reviews applications to determine SuperNova Award finalists
  • Phase II: Voting opens to the public. A combination of the public and judges votes will determine the winners of the SuperNova Awards. Judges votes are weighted at 75% of the total.
Winners are announced at the SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner during Connected Enterprise.

A notable list of technology thought leaders, analysts, and journalists will judge the SuperNova Awards. See the full list of judges here.


Award categories center around Constellation's business research themes. Award categories:
Awards Ceremony

The SuperNova Award Winners will be announced live, on stage, at the SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner on October 29, 2014 on the first night of Constellation's Connected Enterprise.


Finalists in each category will be awarded one complimentary ticket to Constellation's Connected Enterprise.
Winners in each category will win a one-year subscription to Constellation’s Research Library.

  • May 22, 2014 application process begins.  
  • August 1, 2014 last day for submissions.
  • August 22, 2014 finalists announced and invited to Connected Enterprise.
  • September 8, 2014 voting opens to the public
  • October 1, 2014 polls close
  • October 29, 2014 Winners announced, SuperNova Awards Gala Dinner at Connected Enterprise

Apply now:

For SAP Customers The Future of Work Is Collaborative

June 16 2014 11:00:00 PM Add/Read Comments [4]
At SAP, collaboration is more than a 3 letter word. (Jam)

In late May, SAP released the latest version of their collaboration platform, Jam. A week later at their annual SAP Sapphire event I had the opportunity to speak to several members of the Jam team. The three key themes I took away from those conversations are:

- Integration Is Essential
- SAP Understands How People Work
- It’s Time To Build An Ecosystem

MyPOV: These are excellent business focused areas that provide more substance than the highly overused "cloud, social, mobile and analytics" rhetoric I hear from so many companies.

Collaborate Where You Work

As “sharing” becomes an accepted, and even expected part of way people work, it’s important that software supports, not hinders collaboration. One of the ways to accomplish this it to integrate social/sharing features with the tools and processes that people already use to get their jobs done. SAP clearly understands this, and since the introduction of SAP Jam in 2012, the software giant has focused both product development and marketing on making sure SAP Jam is not just a stand-alone enterprise social network, but rather an integrated part of their vast software portfolio. (CRM, ERP, finance, HR, BI, learning)

One manifestation of this integration comes in the form of widgets which can now be added to a group’s home page to display content from other platforms. For example, in the image below, a list of CRM Opportunities is displayed on the right hand side, with additional details for the selected record displayed in a popup window.

A second example of integration is the new add-in for Microsoft Office Outlook, which enables people to create status updates or blog/wiki/forum posts in Jam, right from their inbox. It’s wise of SAP to provide this integration, as email is still one of the primary tools of the business world.

MyPOV: I’ve written extensively about #PurposefulCollaboration, where social features are no longer something people need to think about, as they seamlessly become part of the standard way of working. SAP is a leader in this area, enabling SAP Jam conversations to be embedded inside other SAP applications as well as letting SAP applications be embedded inside Jam. As you’ll read below, they are also now extending this to 3rd party applications.

SAP Understands Business Workflows

Very few people have “being social” in their business titles. Most people work in Sales, Marketing, Engineering, HR, etc. Knowing this, SAP has studied several of the most common business areas and created templates for SAP Jam to match the workflow of each. They call these SAP Jam Patterns, and first introduced them in Nov of 2013. With the May 2014 release they have added a few new work patterns (Service Requests and Event Planning) which also included the introduction of new features such as integrated calendars and subgroups.

MyPOV: In order to get people to change the way they work, it’s essential that the new tool/process provide value above and beyond what’s already in place. As customers start to use SAP Jam, it’s critical that the barrier to entry be low. Having templates that pre-populate with workflow specific content and connections to other systems makes it much easier for people to get started and find value in their new SAP Jam groups. SAP is not unique in this area, nor are templates a new concept. Lotus Notes had these in the 90s, Microsoft SharePoint followed with them in the 2000s, and Jive Software delivers them today with what they call Purposeful Places. Still, it’s good to see SAP providing them for their platform.

A Platform Not A Product

Perhaps the most important announcement at SAP Sapphire (wrt to Jam) was that 3rd party developers will now be able to build their own add-ons and customizations to Jam.  That means business partners with specific domain expertise will be able to build their own Work Patterns, or add features to Jam that SAP is not delivering themselves. Similarly, customers with their own in-house developers will be able to extend Jam to meet their specific needs. Documentation, code samples and other information about the SAP Jam Developer Community can be found here.

MyPOV: A vibrant ecosystem is critical for long term success. The new OData and REST APIs could help SAP compete with the collaboration platforms from vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and Salesforce, each of whom already have robust partner communities developing on their platforms. SAP will need to educate and financially motivate their existing partners on the value of adding collaborative features to their applications.

Top Down Messaging

Even though the key theme of SAPphire was "Simplify", the importance of collaboration was still weaved throughout the show. While SAP Hana Cloud Platform may have gotten the most attention, SAP Jam was mentioned in the keynote and was prominant in both the sessions and showcase floor. SAP Jam has a complex history, evolvling from products like Cubetree and StreamWork. The SAP Jam team should leverage the new Simplify theme to help customers understand that the Future of Work is collaborative, and SAP Jam provides simple deployment and simple user expereince, but at the same time has a deep intergation with the business patterns people use to get work done.

Cisco Needs To Broaden Their Definition Of Collaboration

May 22 2014 02:15:00 PM Add/Read Comments [7]
As I watched the CiscoLive! keynote titled Exceptional Collaboration Experiences in the Age of the Connected User, a line from one of my favourite movies The Princess Bride kept going through my head: "You keep using that word. I do not think it means what you think it means." In this case it's collaboration, as Cisco and I clearly have a vastly different definition of the word.

We all know WebEx web-conferencing. Similar to Microsoft Office, it's one of those tools that is almost always part of the standard business toolset. Over the years Cisco has tried to leverage its leadership in web-conferencing to expand into the new world of social networking. At first they had Cisco Quad which did not gain much traction. They then added new features and rebranded to WebEx Social, alas it still did not make a big impact in the enterprise social networking market. I won't get into details here about why I think it failed, but the short version is that collaboration was never integrated into the workflow of the standard WebEx meetings that everyone participates in. For example, when a meeting ends, there are no task assignments or follow-up items created. So I was excited back in Dec 2013 when Cisco acquired Collaborate, a nice social task management vendor. I thought "Hey, they may start to solve one of the fundamental problems with meetings". Unfortunately Cisco seems to have shutdown Collaborate and says the team has been retasked to work on other areas. So did they buy it just to own the URL? Similarly way back in 2011 Cisco acquired Versly and were going to provide a file-sharing and document editing product yet that never saw the light of day. Then last month another bit of news came along, Cisco was discontinuing WebEx Social and was going to partner with Jive Software to deliver an integrated collaboration and unified communication experience. You can read my thoughts on that here.

So that brings me to the CiscoLive keynotes. I was excited. I had high hopes. I thought "Ok, it's their 3rd attempt at the collaboration market, but maybe they will do better this time." Then CEO John Chambers opening keynote came and went without a single peep about collaboration. He focused on the company's grand vision of the "Internet of Everything", to which I say people need to be one of those "things." Still I remained optimistic, as the main "exceptional collaboration experiences" keynote was the next day, so surely they would demonstrate and amazing vision of how employees and customers can work together to get their jobs done, right?

Well, Rowan Trollope, SVP and GM of Collaboration Technology Group delivered a very passionate keynote... about web-conferencing... on a dedicated machine. Again, nothing about people really working together around a business process. At a time when social network and sharing are part of our everyday lives, and mobile computing is skyrocketing causing CxOs to struggle with the "Bring Your Own Device" movement, Cisco highlights a brand new $2000 desktop unit!

Yes, the DX80 is a really nice device, no question there. It does remove the desktop clutter of speakers, microsophones, headsets, etc. But is web-conferencing really Cisco's vision for exceptional collaboration experiences and the Future of Work?

The demos went well, but they were circa 2000. Seriously. A decade ago when I helped run the keynotes for IBM, we showed n-way video chats in Sametime and told the story of how much more productive meetings were going to become. Sure, the DX80 is A LOT nicer what we used back then, but guess what, the demo was essentially the same: Presenter stands on stage, connects with a few people backstage or in another building, they all wave hi to each other to show it's live. Come on!!! Where is the business value story?

Well, it turns out the did have some good business value stories. Rowan was joined on stage by Hans Hwang - VP Advanced Services who talked about how MissionPoint Health Partners is using Cisco to create better patient care.  

Similar stories were told about how Coca-Cola is training their sales staff remotely instead of requiring travel; and how the oil and gas industry (I apologise, I forget which company) is increasing safety on deep sea oil rigs.  So why were these slideware and not demos?

Picture This

Image if they had set-up a mock hospital room on stage and actually acted out a scenario where doctors collaborated to help a patient. The demo could have had a DX80 in one office and another doctor running around with their iPad. The two could have been members of a Jive Community where they share medical best practices, discovered the experts they needed for a specific case, launched a n-way video conversation, gotten the answers they needed in real time, posted some comments and praise in the social network and bam... everyone in the audience and watching online would have thought... we could really use a tool like that at our organization. Instead, they showed people waving at each other in a web-conference.

It's A War Out There

Cisco is facing fierce competition coming at them from many fronts.

The other large web-conferencing vendors have far more compelling collaboration stories, including social networking, task management, document authoring and editing, file sharing and more.
- IBM has IBM Connections, IBM Sametime and IBM Docs
- Microsoft has Office365, Yammer, OneDrive and Lync
- Citrix has GoToMeeting, Podio and ShareFile
- Unify (formerly Siemens Enterprise) has Ansible

On the startup front, an entire need breed of web-conferencing tools is chomping away at the web-conferencing market, including: Blue Jeans, Fuze, Join.Me and recently launched SlingShot.

Even consumer tools, like Google Hangouts, Apple Facetime, Microsoft Skyp and Logitech LifeSize are replacing the old standard of using WebEx.

Where Is the Innovation?

Do you want to see the future of web-conferencing, take a look at companies like DVE Telepresence who are creating mind-blowing holographic offerings for meetings and even live presentations.

DVE Telepresence Powered by Microsoft Solutions from Rigel Productions on Vimeo.

Next Batter

This was Cisco's 3rd chance to show they understand collaboration. You know what they say about 3 strikes...

As a company, Cisco is in a great position to be part of the new world of the "Internet of Everything" as they call it. I'm just disappointed that they did not hit the ball out of the park showing how Cisco, along with their new partner Jive Software can deliver compelling collaboration experiences that include both social networking and communication features. Since they missed the opportunity, here I'll do it for them.