Secret Santa Surprise: Land of (not-so) Misfit e20 Toys

Picture 8To close out 2009, I thought I’d write a wrap-up of some of my favorite Enterprise 2.0 platforms that for some unknown reason don’t have the visibility they may perhaps deserve in the broader landscape. If you’re shopping for Enterprise 2.0 platforms in 2010, please be sure to give a few of these a looksee.

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1. Traction Software. Traction Teampage has been around since 1999 and was originally developed by the good folks who created hypertext journaling (like, orignally). As you can imagine, over ten years this product has grown to become one of the most versatile tools in the socio-collaborative arsenal. Traction has an A-list of great customers including many security-conscious Federal agencies (such as the Department of Justice). One of our members, Brian Tullis @briantullis (Alcoa), did an amazing job with his case study at Traction’s annual user group conference. You can watch that here.

Picture 14 2. PBWorks. Similarly, born “PBWiki,” PBWorks has outgrown its wiki origins and has a full-featured platform that now includes voice, micro-blogging, live-editing and notifications, IM, and project management. (I probably left out a few.) This tool also has a very pleasing user interface and could win awards for ease of use. PBWorks seems to have hit a home run in the legal sector, but it’s truly a great platform for anyone interested in collaborating online. ITSinsider e20 trivia contest: First person who comments on the blog who knows what “PB” originally stood for wins a 2.0 Adoption Council coffee mug. (PBWorks employees– you can’t play. )

Picture 153. ThoughtFarmer. Ah. Jevon McDonald @jevon (my brilliant, handsome fellow EI) introduced me to ThoughtFarmer. It was probably love at first site (pun, yes) with me and ThoughtFarmer. The first time I interviewed Chris McGrath, @thoughtfarmer I may have asked him to marry me as I was so swept away with the beauty of the software and its elegant design. The ThoughtFarmer story started like this: “A client hired us to design their SharePoint site. We hated it so much we decided to tear it apart and start from scratch building a product from the ground up.” Of course, I’m paraphrasing from my memory of the interview. What ThoughtFarmer did, however, was design a socio-collaborative platform starting with PEOPLE as the centerpiece. I think when I heard that, I popped the question to poor Chris. As I commented on the ThoughtFarmer blog last week, some of our best contributions in the Council come from ThoughtFarmer members. I look forward to many years of ThoughtFarmer success.

Lotus Connections 4. Lotus Connections. Luis Benitez @lbenitez approached me at the Enterprise 2.0 Conference in San Francisco and asked me why Connections is not getting more love from the e20 echo chamber. I told him I hadn’t heard a lot from the Connections team and would like to change that. Considering word on the street is that the SharePoint team calls the SharePoint v. Connections bake-off Mike Gotta held in 2008, “The Boston Massacre,” Connections has lost a little momentum over the past year, especially, as MSFT is now evangelizing SharePoint 2010. Connections is still a best-in-class enterprise alternative. Headshift’s Jon Mell @jonmell has some great experience and posts on Connections. Head there for more details.

Picture 75. Socialcast. Socialcast continues to impress me. The latest redesign of the product is as elegant as it is functional. The platform’s ability to integrate legacy application data, its security provisions (behind the firewall as well as hosted), and the multitude of opportunities to feed external social content make it one of the most simple on-ramping e20 introductory tools available for businesses of every size. Socialcast is also free up to 50 for an unlimited number of users. Check ’em out.

Of course, these are just a few of my favorite tools in the e20 space. I wish every vendor continued success in the category. The pace of innovation in this sector is part of the fun of being an engaged observer.

What are your favorite tools/platforms?

As a Matter of Fact…

Well, well, well.   Didn’t I relish that gushing endorsement of social computing last week by Marc BenioffYes. I did. As the conversation took off on Twitter, what was game-changing-significant was that a tech celeb– known very well in Enterprise circles, as well as the financial community– threw his Enterprise SaaS hat in the ring and announced the company’s, “Biggest breakthrough ever: Salesforce Chatter.”  Of course, Salesforce Chatter is the company’s answer to social computing.

Sometimes it takes a celebrity to help a new technology cross the chasm.  But more often than not, however, the most influential catalyst is market acceptance.  So, whilst I welcome the newfound attention and consciousness-raising for 2.0 adoption in business, I’m eager to start publishing some of the factual data that supports the hype is not without merit.

The 2.0 Adoption Council is now unveiling some of the research we’ve been collecting on our members.  The first synopsis report should be ready this week, available for download.   The survey reflects responses from over 70 of our members spanning over 17 industries, managing over $50M in budgets expressly dedicated to Enterprise 2.0 initiatives.

Here are some quick data points that are proving interesting:

adoption research

In addition to our survey research, The Council has also released its first “how-to” report, “A Framework for 2.0 Adoption in the Enterprise.”  This report was written by Gil Yehuda after interviewing members who described a narrative on how rolling out an initiative worked at their large enterprise.  The paper tracks neatly through a logical iterative sequence and “Director’s Commentary” on how to successfully introduce 2.0 technology and practices to a diverse employee base.

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The market survey results should be ready this week for download free (courtesy of OpenText who sponsored the study), but the “Framework” report is available now for $425 in our store.

More good news coming from the Council includes the announcements of some strategic relationships, as well as a new web site currently in production.

Stay tuned.

E20/SF: Bigger and Better than ever

flickr by Alex Dunne
flickr by Alex Dunne

Bigger, busier and more “social” than ever, the Enterprise 2.0 Conference San Francisco is abuzz with conversation on how to participate in the market’s riches.

Lots of new products/services have been announced here, and the sessions have been packed– some standing room only or attendees taking seats on the floor.

Andrew McAfee, the father of e20, launched his book here.  You can see him in this photo (bottom left) signing books issued by the publisher.

We have approximately a dozen members here from The 2.0 Adoption Council. As always, it’s great to participate virtually, but the face to face meetings and memory-making events are irreplaceable.

We were extremely proud to announce our “Internal Evangelist of the Year 2009” yesterday.  The winner of this year’s award is Claire Flanagan, Senior Manager KM and Enterprise Social Software Strategy, CSC.  Claire received accolades from her executive leadership, as well as Jive software whose platform CSC is building out to its nearly 100K employees.  The final nominees for this award also included Megan Murray, Booz Allen Hamilton and Greg Lowe, Alcatel-Lucent.

Today, Council members will participate in a morning keynote session addressing the highly charged question, “Is Enterprise 2.0 a Crock?”   And once again, Ross Mayfield and I will be facilitating a few unconference sessions this afternoon starting at 3:15pm.  If you have a burning issue you want to address with peers, this is your opportunity to share informally with conference attendees and get some personalized answers.

Jive: Keepin’ it Real

Flickr by chrissuderman
Flickr by chrissuderman

You know that feeling when you have to take a random trip to the mall and when you get there, the entire mall and every retail establishment has been magically transformed for the holiday shopping season?  Wow.  It’s not even close to Thanksgiving, you think… But sure enough, you find yourself a little excited, a little sentimental, a little anxious about the fact that the holidays are upon us.  It’s an emotional, a psychological reaction that launches a number of triggers that will ultimately lead to the consumer behavior the retailers are banking on.

That’s how I felt the first day at SAP Tech Ed, SAP’s annual education extravaganza.  I had never been to an SAP Tech Ed before, and wasn’t sure what to expect.  In the first twenty minutes after I arrived at the newly renovated, cavernous Phoenix Convention Center, I started hearing the words collaboration, transparency, and social.  And it wasn’t from the blogger’s corner, I was hearing these words from SAP executives and customers.  The event was suddenly, surprisingly relevant to me in a way that I did not anticipate, nor that I was prepared for.  It was magical.

And similar to my experience visiting the mall and being greeted by a re-themed holiday shopping bonanza, the event launched a numbers of triggers for me.  The first trigger was excitement.  SAP gets it! I beamed to myself.  For so long, it appeared SAP corporate was just not interested in the Enterprise 2.0 agenda.  As recently as last SAPPHIRE (April), SAP’s massive annual customer and partner event, I was grousing about the fact that 2.0 was all but completely absent on the agenda or the trade show floor.

The second trigger was anxiety.  At the same time as SAP TechEd, Oracle was holding its famed Oracle OpenWorld. Keeping a CPA eye on the tweet stream, it occurred to me that Oracle was “getting it” too.  As I write this, Microsoft is amassing its fan-adulating entourage in Las Vegas where it will announce the long-awaited SharePoint 2010 which has been predicted to be the e20 startup killer.  And, lastly IBM got this a long time ago which completes the MISO (Microsoft, IBM, SAP, and Oracle) four horsemen of the 2.0 apocalypse.  The combined market strength of the enterprise vendors to persuade and advance their particular offering signals an unmistakable step change in the heretofore teensy Enterprise 2.0 sector evolution.  The big boys are moving in with their big marketing budgets and massive sales organizations.  Not to be discounted either is Google whom unless you’ve been trapped floating above the earth in a homemade helium balloon, or hiding in an attic closet, you know has recently launched Google Wave: its impressive collaborative, real-time sharing platform.  The other one I suppose I shouldn’t leave out is Cisco who’ve been re-tooling their go-to-market messaging around a fluid collaboration theme for months now.

Why does this tacit endorsement of e20 by the large enterprise vendors prompt my anxiety?  Because I’m concerned they’ll dominate the discussion; maybe suppress innovation, dilute the passion that has historically fueled interest in e20.  It’s hard to predict what the effects of mainstream promotion will be for e20, but one thing is for sure, e20 is about to bust out of the echo-chamber.

I started this post on the plane ride home from SAP’s TechEd (USA) two weeks ago now.  Yesterday I was pre-briefed on Jive’s new announcements coming with its SBS 4.0 platform.  Whatever real anxiety I felt about the big boys moving into the space has now been dissipated.

It takes a startup like Jive to inject innovation, creativity, passion, and excitement to this sector.  Jive is releasing a ground-breaking set of features that will set a new high bar for excellence in the category.  I’m certain the tech bloggers will cover the announcements in depth, but in brief, Jive is announcing an iPhone app (plus an email-driven enriched BlackBerry experience), very slick MS Office integration, and a bridging capability that will unite internal and external communities.  All this in addition to the series of announcements Jive made previously that include social media monitoring and a SharePoint connector.

What’s significant about the Jive announcements is the company’s commitment to releasing timely, innovative new capabilities in response to customer feedback and requests.  I’m here at JiveWorld, the company’s first customer event.  From the energy circulating in the crowd here, it’s obvious to me Jive is customer-driven and loyalty from Jive’s customers handily delivers repeat revenue as well as product improvements.

Jive’s ability to manage the books, pay careful attention to its user base, invest in educating its partners and employees, rationally identify its target market, as well as manage its growth effectively squarely positions the company uniquely from other startup competitors in the space.  Further, it accentuates the advantage startups have over the large enterprise vendors where releases are timed in years, not months.

So, as the e20 market twists and turns to accommodate innovation, advancement, and welcome step changes in attitude and strategic direction, one thing is guaranteed—all of this progress benefits customers.  Customers have a hard enough time getting this job done, so thank goodness, vendors like Jive are making it easy to accelerate adoption and experimentation with 2.0 tools and philosophies.

Join me for a conversation on 2.0 adoption

Bjoern Negelmann has been conducting a series of TinyChats with leading voices on Enterprise 2.0 in preparation for the upcoming Enterprise 2.0 Summit in Frankfurt, Nov. 10 – 12. I hope you’ll join me this Friday: 9:30am ET for a conversation on trends in 2.0 adoption.

I think the process is fairly simple.  At 9:30am ET, just go here.

Enterprise 2.0 Demystified

Novell hired me to do a short webinar explaining the chronology of Enterprise 2.0 and some of the key challenges in embracing it. I created this presentation which has a visual I am continuing to refine that explains e20 relative to the social memes. I created this presentation before the meme wars began this week. Enterprise 2.0 still works to define the business of enterprise transformation for the folks who are currently committing talent and investment to transforming large organizations.

In my experience the word “social” has always presented problems in the enterprise. Management exposed to the philosophies of 2.0 thinking, aren’t keen to encourage socializing in the enterprise, but are very willing to improve working. I saw a similar post by Chris Yeh on this theme. Also, we had a good chat internally in the Council about the meme wars, and members expressed their frustration in a wholesale change to the labeling of the sector. It will cause practical disruption and well as introduce confusion at a time when many in the organization were just starting to “get it.”

Many readers of this blog will be receiving an invite to our 2.0 Adoption Community that is still scheduled to launch tomorrow. I hope we can continue this discussion there with an eye toward improving the experience for the most valuable players in this conversation: the customers who are valiantly trying to get this done.