Tag Archives: Collaboration

The quiet arrival of the SharePoint killer

It was with some interest that I read The Forrester Wave™: Collaboration Platforms, Q3 2009 after a link was Tweeted out yesterday. I was reading in reverse order from Gartner’s Magic Quadrant, see my Gartner Magic Quadrant; a dark horse closing up the outside fence… My main interest in Forrester’s was to see where Jive were placed. Of late I’ve been doing a lot of hands-on work with Jive and getting to know the platform in a great amount of detail.

forrester

On reading the wave report, I was struck by one small arrival – a horse of even darker hue,  that of Cisco WebEx Connect as a collaboration platform. Most people are aware of WebEx as a webinar tool and have not used Connect.  I was at Cisco when WebEx was acquired and in San Jose too and remember all the WebEx signs in the carpark. It all looked a bit puzzling, for me at least, until I found out about Connect. Connect is a superb tool and worth acquiring for that alone. It’s a SharePoint killer.

Here’s why. Connect is 2.0 in a way that SharePoint never will be. It’s modular, making it infinitely extendable and uses accessible open APIs:

  • URL commands
  • XML Request / Response interfaces with well-defined schemas
  • Web Services interfaces that support Web Services Definition Language (WSDL) with access through Simple Object Access Protocol (SOAP).
  • Representational State Transfer (REST).

What this means is a rapidly deployable, file-store and  silo-busting collaboration app with the ability to slot in any number of friendly mash-ups. Twitter for Connect/ no problemo, just load it up and slot it in. Facebook, ditto, iPhone easy. What’s more it’s robustly secure, no worries about the firewall with this baby. And of course it’s backed up by a tech behemoth. This is no start-up.

Potentially, this is the Enterprise 2.0 application.

I say potentially as to be frank I was surprised to see it in the Forrester Wave (and it’s not present in Gartner’s). The product is superb but I’ve never seen it pushed out and really marketed for what it is. Go to the WebEx site (and it’s still on the WebEx domain) and Connect is listed but not featured much. It doesn’t scream out what it does. What’s more, I couldn’t find the link where I might connect up with Connect. Puzzling.

Now if you go onto the Jive site you’ll see a lot of publicity about SharePoint connectivity. All good stuff as SharePoint is almost a defacto standard in many corporations. This could change almost overnight. Here’s how and why.

Cisco, Miscrosoft and Google are in a cage fight. That fight I dubbed The Battle of the Cloud a while back. Cisco own the Network, Miscrosoft the Software and Google own the Experience. All of these 3 areas get completely mashed up in the metaphor we currently know as the cloud. And I believe, the stakes are high enough to see severe casualties amongst the 3 big players. (See also Dion Hinchcliffe’s Cloud computing and the return of the platform wars…estimate is for $42 Billion by 2012, I’m taking the argument even further).

Against this backdrop, singular products like Connect, that many don’t even realise exists, provides some wonderfully disruptive possibilities as a disruptive Enterprise 2.0 collaboration tool. Given this, what I’d do if I was sitting in the board at San Jose would be to ramp up the marketing for Connect. And if I really wanted to shake up the whole apple cart, I’d also make it free.

Gartner: the CIO and Web 2.0

The beleaguered CIO is being proffered heavy weight advice by the analysts at Gartner. First they weighed in with a Gartner Presents CIO Resolutions for 2009 and now Gartner’s top pundit Mark McDonald has offered his advice to the CIO in an interview with the Wisconsin Technology Network saying that “CIOs may have only four months to show results”:

Now is the time for CIOs to pick one thing that they have to get done fast and get done well and put all of their resources against it.

What’s interesting is where he sees that worth being demonstrated. Budgets in IT he notes will be flat. Large scale type projects therefore, while they can generate revenue or create savings, are currently too costly a risk for the cash-strapped IT dept:

Investments in BI and CRM and ERP were viewed as investments, and fairly significant capital expenditures.

And what this means is that they won’t happen in the foreseeable and certainly not in the next couple of quarters. Asked what will be “left out in the cold” McDonald’s reply was:

Basically, anything new,- but Web 2.0 tools are not among them.

What we are seeing therefore McDonald argues is Web 2.0 achieving mainstream adoption despite the downturn. This will be both as an external marketing tool and as an internal collaboration tool. Neither he says should be put on the back-burner. Notably, it’s the internal collaborational aspect that is now generating the most heat:

Every company, regardless of who they are, is probably going to be looking at using Web 2.0 to improve internal collaboration, but I think there is a significant difference between companies that are effective and have a history of being effective, which is achieving their goals.

This I think is the rub of the interview – social media as collaboration technology is going to take off, not least because it’s relatively cheap to introduce and can quickly achieve demonstrable results. The key aspect I believe though, is whether the company can capitalise on the potential gains here in Europe. McDonald is focusing on the USA and it will be telling to see how the potential adoption takes place in the UK and in Europe. Now, McDonald says is the chance to sieze the opportunity in the USA, let’s hope our European CIOs achieve this too.

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The interview has had keen reactions most notably Fast Forward Gartner: Web 2.0 Tools Exempt from Economic Cutbacks and at The Content Economy Cutting costs by improving internal collaboration