Enterprise Collaboration Technology Market Overview #KMWorld

KMWorld 2013Speaker: Tony Byrne, Founder, Real Story Group

[These are my notes from the KMWorld 2013 Conference. Since I’m publishing them as soon as possible after the end of a session, they may contain the occasional typographical or grammatical error. Please excuse those. To the extent I’ve made any editorial comments, I’ve shown those in brackets.]

Session Description: To date, technology analysts have quite properly focused on the social and business aspects of social collaboration technologies. And yet, social collaboration tools, including collaboration suites, pure-play blog/wiki/social-networking products, and revamped portal products from major vendors, differ quite substantially in maturity, approach, and support. This session shares customer research from a noted evaluation firm on leading enterprise collaboration technologies and provides a framework for customers to evaluate the marketplace based on their own needs.


  • What’s the difference between Collaboration and Networking?
    • Collaborate = working toward a common goal
      • Actions: Organize, do, formalize
    • Network = connect with others outside the context of a specific goal
      • Actions: Discover, connect, brainstorm
  • What’s the problem with these differences?
    • Vendors tend to focus on either collaboration or networking. Few do both well. This means you can, for example, brainstorm in a networking application, but then need to move to a collaboration application in order to actually implement that idea.
  • Features vs Applications
    • In Byrne’s view, having the right application is more important than having the right features
    • SharePoint is a good example:
      • From a feature perspective, it appears to be “more or less feature complete.” However, this is misleading since it doesn’t do everything equally well. (In fact, it doesn’t do most things well!)
      • From an application perspective, SharePoint is very poor. However, since SharePoint is a platform, “with enough time, money and ibuprofen, you can get it to do what you need.”
    • Real Story Subway Map:
      • this map shows how the various vendors and their collaboration/networking applications compare.
  • Three options for better Collaboration & Networking
    • Extend the application by writing your own code
      • this approach presents some real problems:
        • it can be expensive and time consuming
        • when the platform is upgraded by the vendor, you’ll have to find a way to upgrade the proprietary code
    • Supplement by buying something “above” the platform
      • finding third-party software products that fill in the gaps
      • this is a relatively safe and easy approach
    • Complement the platform by buying something that runs “next” to the platform
      • it has its own repositories
      • it needs to be integrated with the platform
  • Be very careful about the Enterprise Surprise
    • There are lots of applications from smaller vendors that are cool and work well in a simple pilot. However, when you go enterprise-wide, you get tripped up by problems with their common administrative and management services. For example, does the application have a UI that works internationally, across geographies, time zones, languages?
    • Access control and entitlements may be valid concerns within an organization
      • however, many social software systems have no real notion of entitlements: the goal is openness, information access is either totally open or there is a binary choice between private and public.
      • they often lack the ability to reflect the differing roles and responsibilities of users
  • Social  as a service rather than a place
    • many social applications sit outside the applications within which employees work all day. Therefore, to be social, they need to go to a place that is different from the place in which they work.
    • it is better if social is in the flow of work; if your employees live in an application, social should be there too.
    • if your employees “live in Outlook,” look for applications that provide a social “pane” in Outlook
    • some applications (e.g., Tibbr) can put a social/collaborative chrome or layer on top of an existing paltform
  • Mobile Matters
    • Some social software (e.g,  Chatter) works well on the desktop, but they don’t translate well into mobile
  • How to find the right technology?
    • Start with a longish list of possible products (10-12)
    • Winnow the list by comparing product offerings against each other and, more importantly, compare them in the context of key use cases in your organization.
    • Hold a competitive bake-off between the 2 products that survive your selection process. Install the applications in your sandbox so you can experience what it is like to use the technology and to work with the vendor.
      • This is important so that you can really experience how the technology handles your business needs and technical requirements.
      • It also corrects for any errors/gaps in your perception of what your colleagues actually want and how they will actually use the tool.

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