Archive for May, 2008

Evolution or revolution for Enterprise 2.0 vendors?

May 27, 2008

The ever militant Fidel Castro once said ‘A revolution is a struggle between the past and the future’. The evolutionary or revolutionary stakes are getting higher in the Enterprise 2.0 space with the giants IBM, Microsoft and Oracle demonstrating their financial muscle at the Enterprise 2.0 Boston conference. These enterprise vendors are now the top sponsors at this event for the first time as highlighted by Susan Scrupski.


Fidel Castro

But are the Enterprise vendors serious and really committed to Enterprise 2.0 and if they are where will this leave the current Enterprise 2.0 vendors such as Socialtext and Jive? Alternatively, is the Enterprise market in the mists of revolution where the giants will be overthrown by a new software model as suggest by Sam Lawrence? Of course the answer is complex and difficult to see.

A brief historical reflection reminds us of the colossal mistakes and monumental triumphs these giants of the software industry have made in the past. Remember when IBM gave away the early PC O/S to Bill’s firm which still enjoys market sector dominance or how frustrated Microsoft currently are at missing out on the enormous Ad funded growth achieved by search engine firms. However these Enterprise vendors became big because they are clever survivors having evolved. When IBM shifted its attention to services it became the largest IT service in the world, after missing the browser innovation Bill famously turned Microsoft’s resources to counter act Netscape’s market traction and remember how Larry at Oracle out manoeuvred everyone with SQL.

Unlike Cuban politics that resulted in the country remaining in a void between past and future the software industry moves very quickly, every 18months they say, and with the Enterprise 2.0 stakes rising we should not have to wait too long to see an evolution of the past enterprise vendors or a bright newcomer future. The software big guns have the advantage of deep pockets, mountains of resources, and large and often loyal customer installed bases.

Source: Forrester

With the major software vendors initiatives and investments into Enterprise 2.0 are we witnessing them preparing to defend their territory with their powerful guns? The large vendors certainly lack the entrepreneurial flexibility of the younger dynamic small firms which have been directly meeting emerging end user problems and needs with fresh a Web2.0 approach.


The big guns of Navarone

Throwing money at an emerging marketplace will not necessary bring success to the big enterprise vendors because of the changing nature of IT and the well documented difficulty and commitment needed to change the direction of such large organisational ships. However, if the current Enterprise 2.0 players are to continue to enjoy success and move more into the mainstream Enterprise market I suspect they are going to have to make a change in tact because of the increasing interest of the software giants with their aforementioned strengths. Only time will tell whether this is a revolution or evolution.

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Conference Top Man’s efforts and outlook for Enterprise 2.0

May 21, 2008

I had the pleasure of a preview interview the Mr Steve Wylie, the top man organising the Boston Enterprise2.0 conference from the TechWeb (formally CMP) happening June 9-12 in Boston. Steve and his team certainly seem to be working hard to make the 2008 event a big success.


Steve (left) hard at work

For this year’s conference Steve said they’d put a lot of effort into building up case studies and presentations from Enterprise firms that have implemented Enterprise 2.0. Steve is hoping to upgrade Andrew McAfee’s scorecard grades for case studies and stories from last years ‘c-‘ to a ‘b-‘.

The conference will be running a very open 2.0 flavour “Un-conference” session named Enterprise2Open for the first time which should be fun as the audience get to decide the subject and the proceedings are refereed by the chair, in this case Ross Mayfield of SocialText. I’m looking forward to meeting Ross who seems to have a quite a following in this market. This session has the potential to be really energetic or very chaotic. Perhaps this is the beginning of a new format for conferences run by the audience. It’s already started to happen at talks with Twitterers judging the speakers real-time and setting the tone.

The conference is really focusing suppliers and customer’s hearts and minds on this market and Steve seemed very pleased having changed the conference title from the more limiting ‘Collaboration Technology Conference’ and with a 20% increase in attendees from last year. I’m also very committed to this space with our new E2.0 informational website (E20portal.com) due for release in June. However, Steve did admit the Enterprise 2.0 term was still lacking definition because of conflicting opinions and purists views and went on to comment ‘We are still in an early market’. Perhaps the big enterprise vendors marketing departments will stamp their definition on the market with their monster marketing budgets.


Microsoft invest $900m in Vista, Office 2007
and Xbox 360 on sales and marketing, 2007

Steve was encouraged by the increased involvement of the large enterprise vendors and their rapid product development responses to Enterprise2.0 market and felt this validates the market as ‘no longer a niche’. This is good news for Steve because if the market grows so does the conference and ‘The Enterprise 2.0 Conference is the leading Enterprise 2.0 event’, Steve Wylie.

As a blogger it was a little sadistic to turn a difficult question posted by the blogger on themselves. Steve posted ‘And the Winner is…’ questioning if ‘newbie “Enterprise 2.0” vendors will become serious enterprise players? Or will the big vendors prevail? What do you think?’ Steve response was ‘We needed to take a good hard look at the big vendors’ and ‘some small vendors will disappear and others will prevail’. “That was very on the fence Steve”, I thought, but it is a hard question especially when all the vendors are paying the conference bills.

Steve and I have a very similar conference interest to understand how Social Networking will move into the Enterprise and what the Role of Facebook will be (see his latest blog post). I tried in vain to get Steve to give me some insights to new product vendor announcements, however there should be a press release a week before the event. I’m sure all the vendors will be shouting from the rooftops about their new major software releases at the conference including SocialText and Jive. It was a good chat and I was very encouraged by Steve’s efforts and outlook.

$100 “Golden” ticket for Enterprise 2.0, Boston 2008

May 16, 2008

Hi Folks, The nice guys at TechWeb (formally CMP) who run the Enterprise 2.0 conference have given me a $100 voucher ticket for the June 9-12th June event to give to you.

If you want it just let me know via a comment or email (info@viisys.com) and we will send you the code. Next week I’m planning to write a preview of this event and my firm will be releasing a NEW Enterprise 2.0 information portal (E20portal.com) all about E2.0 before June 9th, so keep an eye out.

In your wildest dreams you can not imagine the marvelous SURPRISES that await YOU”

Mixing social network fun with serious business

May 16, 2008

With human social behaviour forming over 10,000’s of evolutionary years it is very interesting to watch our social communication now working over a relatively new medium. Ning the new Social Networking website and many of its predecessors have tapped into people’s need to socially communicate and share common and fun interests. This new medium is free, quick and easy to access within our increasingly busy lives enabling us to stay in touch with more people, more often. These social sites have expanded user numbers rapidly by piggy backing, known as “viral loop”, off our existing social networks as explained by Adam L. Penenberg at FastCompany.com.

Contact through Social networks allow us to share feeling and pass on thoughts within our personal home life, however when we leave for work we don’t simply leave our social behaviour at the front door. In business, Social Networks dance to a very different tune because rather than sharing feelings of fun to strengthen our exiting ties or make new friends we are required to seek information to base business decisions upon. Information and views shared in business are often about markets changes, customer needs, competitor’s new products or services. Work is our modern day environment of survival of the fittest and thus the war like mantra that often exists in business strategic terms.

I’m not saying we shouldn’t try and make work a fun and enjoyable place, in fact workers are more effective when happy, however at work we have a definite purpose and that purpose is contextual. Long before Ning and Facebook firms have been taking advantage of individuals social networks and connections to access and sell to new customers. Tupperware parties, insurance referrals and home product pyramid sales structures are examples which have been successfully used for many years. Harnessing an effective internal social network structure in business can also bring real business benefits, however simply giving employees fun communications tools will not necessary make them more productive. This week Ross Dawson the uncamera shy business leader highlighted some of the benefits of social networking in business in an inteview with Skynews.

I recently meet Jenny Ambrozek, a New York based organizational development consultant and she has been studying Social networks in business for many years along with academics such as Robert Buckman. Jenny recently undertook a study into Facebook in business in partnership with a leading business school. The conclusion from this study was that a Social Network environment brings many benefits to the participants but Facebook’s holes Limit Potential Use as an Enterprise Wide Net Working Platform’. Whilst some firms have fully embraced this new medium many businesses have banned employees from Facebook out of fear.

Facebook and Ning were not made to address business needs and problems, however they are awaking us to a more people focused open environment and their evolution to a business specific set of tools may well provide a much improved approach than our current siloed and channel centric systems.

Are you listening to the marketing guys shock messages?

May 8, 2008

Our newspapers have made shock headlines into an art form and the Internet brings the marketing guys an increasing versatile method of delivering new shock and controversial messages. The Internet is much more targeted at specific groups than newspapers and brings the reader the option to rapidly and directly become involved with the conversation.

 

Sam Lawrence, a seasoned marketing campaigner, has provided a great shock message example by comparing Social Enterprise Software to the transformation innovation from 35mm to digital photography. Lawrence sees IBM, Microsoft and Oracle as the 35mm film ‘Goliath’ against his firm Jive as ‘David’. Retrospect is a fine thing and right now the analogy is stretching innovation imagination a little too far, however marketers have no time for non-existent future facts. This short low budget blog post certainly seems to have got tongues wagging with both IBM and Microsoft employees debating on Sam Lawrence’s blog comments. Lawrence’s timing is impeccable with Microsoft failing to muscle in on the Google Ad funded party through the Yahoo acquisition.

A particularly shocking and well timed piece of marketing was from Volkswagen with the ‘tough’ polo ad. ‘It was not’ an Ad the urban legend suggests. This viral Ad was at a time of heightened terrorist tension and if you click the link you can imagine how much of a stir the Ad created.

Even Harvard are getting into the viral YouTube act with Gary Hamel’s unashamed short and punchy book pitch proclaiming that we are using an out of date 19th century management structure in business today. You don’t find many books being advertised so effectively on YouTube. Hamel’s shock statement is based at a time when our western economies are working out how to maintain GDP’s through knowledge worker innovation. I’m sure Hemel’s marketing has helped put him into first place of the most influential thinkers.

The internet is a gorilla marketers dream offering a low cost and very effective way of at getting people to talk about shock messages. The choice to respond to these messages gives the reader a feeling of involvement, even if they don’t respond, and here lies the power of the ever increasing and evolving Internet marketing machine.