I’ve had a fascinating week talking to Google, Jive, and Amazon. Just last week was talking with Gartner VP about the life of an analyst. My world as a free agent begins right after I get back from the European SharePoint Conference, May 18. That’s right, my contract with ViewDo Labs as a Global Evangelist is winding down. I’m planning on making a big career move, but for the most part I expect to stay in Enterprise Collaboration, but my alignment may change as I try to not let politics get in the way. Those who have been following my career… get ready for something BIG. In this next move, I’m waiting for the right thing. In the meantime, I’m working on TechAds Influencer Services writing some product analysis, doing webcasts, working with ISVs and traveling to remote places like Uzbekistan. Something that has been on my mind is what’s next and who will win? There’s a lot of assembling of strategies and things are really heating up in the Industry and I want to be a part of it.
Cisco + Jive
What happens when Jive and Cisco collaborate on Enterprise Social? Consolidation is what it means. I think we’re going to see a new stack with this collaboration that will push the enterprise players to meet and fill gaps in their platforms. Here’s how I expect that the Jive and Cisco stack could bring some addition features to what users expect in their enterprise social network or hub. Take Jive’s Enterprise Social Network and feeds which share what’s happening across the variety of communities that the conversations relate to, and Cisco provides two key essential elements their rich video sharing and desktop and document sharing platform. The alignment of their families of technologies first with Jive’s platform of communities and conversations and then to Cisco’s Video WebEx (Lync like), Jabber (Telepresence), Quad (SharePoint like). The agreement that was struck was on the sales side. Read about how Cisco is taking the best out of WebEx and adding Jive to fill in the social bits just announced yesterday, but is destined to shake things up.
Microsoft: Yammer + Office 365 + Skype
Microsoft with it’s acquisitions of Skype and Yammer plus the old and new SharePoint and Office 365 should be creating a more fluid experience of creating conversations that quickly turn into impromptu sharing sessions in video. Today I see walls between these worlds. People start a conversation in Yammer and then decide they need to setup a meeting to have the conversation. With presence and chat along side calendaring, it should be very easy to determine they are both have open calendars and the conversation turns into a video conversation where data can be shared not only across desktops, but across devices. There’s enough overlap between Lync and Skype that Microsoft really needs to decide what they will market for the enterprise through it’s cloud platform and clean up the messiness of Lync’s plugin and authentication challenges when dealing with partner to partner extranet style collaboration. It has mobile tools to extend to the mobile devices which will be essentially for the true real-time collaboration, but there is still work to be done to make these more seamless. I’m finding people chiming in on conversations and we say… well what are we going to do? People are ready for the real-time collaboration element that only a meeting or real-time conversation brings. The brainstorming stops and the real-time interactivity begins with that voice to video. There’s something that clicks when we talk back and forth more quickly in that planning and execution phase of work. The next generation features in Oslo, Office graph, and integrated social feeds nearly everywhere will make it a leader if it can stop fighting so hard against IT departments and start listening and working together. Why fight? A lot of people are getting black eyes including the biggest advocates the MCMs, MCAs shutdown as Microsoft swings it’s weight around pushing everyone into the cloud with a glimmer of hope for the second class citizen on premises version in 2015 that they don’t want to talk about yet. The story of Wally Mead leaving Microsoft and what happened in the system center community hits close to home. Will IT Ever Buy Into “Mobile First, Cloud First”? I really like the line… “Microsoft is going to the cloud with or without you.” The world of SharePoint isn’t just SharePoint, so make sure you don’t find yourself only being a SharePoint expert over the next 2-3 years, that space is getting really crowded and the ISVs are getting toasty as things heat up in the move to the cloud.
Google: Hangouts + Google Apps (Docs) + Google Drive +?
Does Google know the power of its Hangouts? Wow there’s some serious power in those easy to create and destroy hangouts. Right now I put it on the top in terms of ease of use. I thought Skype was easy. People aren’t going to go looking for hangouts, they need to be naturally attached to trending topics and trending conversations. When I’m in the social network and you see dozens of people chiming in on the new company announcement, it should be natural to click the link to join the sensitive conversation without worrying about who outside the company might be able to join in. So yes there’s some security consideration, but there are ways of building the right whitelist and these features simply need to be shared. It shouldn’t take all the heavy lifting to feel like you’re in a trusted environment especially when you may want to start a conversation with a partner without needing all that ADFS jazz. On top of that, what it’s been missing is the collaboration platform around it. Integrating hangouts with a true collaboration platform like a trusted flavor of Google plus with autogenerated circles based on departments, divisions, teams, customers and partners for the enterprise could easily create that trust and the opportunity to have rich conversations shared calendaring and groups. Yes, I think there is an opportunity for Identity Solution with Google. Relying on people to do the right thing may work at the small business, but not in the enterprise. The lines can only blur so far. The feature set needs to go from fluid conversation to video chat with a conversation that has a single link that others can join predefined by the creator that fits the conversation. We go from casual conversation based Tweetups and physical Meetups to the best of both worlds in a conversation and visual Hangout with simple and impromptu or planned conversations that hit the enterprise water cooler that is a future component of Social Intranets. Scheduling or impromptu these hangouts in the enterprise could create a new kind of meeting. Hangouts does now have a much richer platform for sharing slides and desktop sharing capabilities and adding the Google apps and you’ve got a rich platform for discussing document collaboration. If you haven’t seen how easy it is to take your session from your phone to your laptop or Chromebook and then to pull up and watch a YouTube video real-time with voiceover commenting and real-time pausing you’re missing out on the richness that Google has built into it’s platform. I do believe that Google’s hangouts video compression algorithm and seamless device support has a huge advantage. It will also has huge advantage on price. While Google may have already been positioning google+ for the business it may hurt credibility in the enterprise space more. Google does need to put out some news that will quell the Google plus news or be seen as killing social one to many times or lose face with the enterprise. Google enterprise needs a stronger voice in the enterprise period. They’ve been behind the scenes long enough. With such a rich platform, I hate to see it throw away serious technology that may have been one too many in it’s timing in the consumer space, but may just what the doctor ordered in the enterprise. Take the best of Wave (the email integration with conversation), Buzz the twitter attempt, and Google + the Facebook like platform, and listen to the enterprise. You don’t need to be first, you need to leverage your strength of easy and likeable and powerful and take it to the execution level and build real trust. Enterprises would love to see Google play in this space, if they can trust them. Trust is the key to their future, the features will come. Google Apps has been gaining huge traction in the small and medium business and Android and Chromebook are getting support from Microsoft. They have all made huge inroads this past year, why not Enterprise Social & Collaboration?
SalesForce: Chatter + (Platform Integration)
I expect SalesForce to need to acquire, integrate or partner to take Chatter to the level or see it be taken seriously only in the Sales department. The integration with other tools is actually quite rich and possible, the published APIs and integration with other Plaforms including yammer and SharePoint. SalesForce.com development is expensive becoming more and more common, but it’s often not an expense that companies are expecting. I really don’t see much chatter integration with other platforms though. Chatter is as a top ESN is falling behind as the focus continues on the real Force. There is a lot of incentive for the ecosystem to fill in some of these gaps with the adoption of SalesForce as a cloud platform for sales. Chatter is limited in it’s richer instant messaging to video and document collaboration capabilities. There’s enough momentum and a strong roadmap that SalesForce will definitely be a player and lay down the path for the others that are moving to the cloud. I expect some coopetition with other competing platforms filling in gaps until SalesForce stack comes together. Office 365 is happy to fill those gaps as is Yammer and for that matter, I bet we’ll see some of everything in a SalesForce cloud and integration deployment.
IBM: Connections and SameTime – NOT Legacy Notes
IBM will be IBM and fill in the gaps with services. It has in it’s SameTime and Connections products much of the special sauce and even has much of the device support, but likely won’t make the waves in getting ahead of the others. What IBM will be thinking about is mostly internal and will likely miss the mark on getting that rich platform supporting the external users in partners, customers, and in making it easy enough, rich enough and simple enough. The question in my mind is can they be agile, Can they make it easy enough and rich enough to gather the heart and mind of IT AND the business? There’s some real integration that needs to happen that combines video, document collaboration, instant messaging, and desktop sharing plus devices. Sad to see so many companies that have been waiting for IBM to be the leader again. They are in it for the long haul. There are some real strategic things that need to happen here. They really need something disruptive technology to make big inroads. People have spent enough time and money on Notes to SharePoint migrations that they are weary. What’s next out of IBM?
It’s never been a better time to be in Enterprise Collaboration with the waves of Mobile, Social, Cloud, but position yourself, the waves are hitting hard… and people will fly. Things are heating up and while people will fall off of the rocking boats, I’ve got friends watching the shore and manning a lighthouse. It’s about to get *very real.* Hang on! Some may not have the stomach for what’s ahead.