Don’t look to Facebook at Work to change much in the world of enterprise social, but enterprise recruiting could be a different story

Facebook At Work, should it be released in early 2015, isn’t likely to make a dramatic appearance on the market for enterprise social computing solutions. It’s not as if consumers of this kind of computing solution have few choices. But the market is constrained and, perhaps, for a set of good reasons:

  1. Hierarchical organizations have demonstrated substantial resistance to enterprise social computing solutions
  2. Facebook at work appears to be taking a path into the enterprise leading through BYOD and BYOA, and the consumerization of IT computing
  3. Organizations supporting lots of silos have not demonstrated much success implementing enterprise social computing solutions
  4. It’s unlikely Facebook at work will introduce any new features beyond those already offered by entrenched competitors
  5. Neither is it likely Facebook will offer anything like the analytics tools already available to enterprise social consumers using tools offered by Microsoft, IBM, or even Google

So if this rumored suite of tools isn’t likely to make much of an impression on the enterprise social market, then why all the publicity about it? One can argue Facebook is the leading solutions provider for social computing; therefore, any step they take in an enterprise computing direction is worth some commentary. But this argument doesn’t hold up under scrutiny. The history of the efforts of a number of other solutions designed for the enterprise social computing market is not filled with a lot of clearly successful efforts. Bottom line: enterprise social computing is a special kind of requirement, not necessarily a right step for the average organization and, potentially, a detriment to its healthy performance.

But perhaps Facebook, itself, is powering a lot of the “online chatter”. They certainly have a lot to gain should they establish a position as a serious option for this type of computing for enterprise-class organizations. Further, if they approach the market from the direction of LinkedIn, as the article from the UK Daily Mail contends, they will have more to gain. Popping up as a competitor to Yammer will require a lot more work on the backend then Facebook is likely to want to undertake. Even more, it will require Facebook sales and marketing personnel to win over prospects from enterprise IT organizations — not likely to happen anytime soon, in the opinion of this writer.

Taking a piece of LinkedIn’s business with corporate recruiters and the executive search firms supporting them is another matter, and one where Facebook looks like a real force, especially when their expertise in the mobile ad serving market is factored in to the equation.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


How to Evaluate the Impact of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant on the Fortunes of Early Stage ISVs

Early stage ISVs are not likely candidates for Gartner’s Magic Quadrant. So anyone interested in specific technology genres covered by Gartner with Magic Quadrants should plan on digging deeper if a list of all important players is to be compiled.

The CMS Wire blog recently provided a list of some of the most important criteria Gartner reviews before deciding to include an ISV in a Magic Quadrant ranking.

In a post titled Gartner Names Wise Choices for Workplace Social Software. Here are some of the criteria:

  • An ISV must employee at least 80 people, worldwide
  • ISVs with gross product sales less than $12 million, in the specific technology genre covered by the Magic Quadrant, will not be considered
  • Neither will any ISV with a customer list of less than 20 paid organizations representing 5K paid users

In this writer’s opinion, Gartner’s Magic Quadrant is more of a curation of ISVs worth consideration by larger businesses, than anything else. A listing in the “Leaders” quadrant by no means identifies an ISV as particularly “innovative”. It may be helpful to think of the ISVs in this top right sector of the famous Gartner Magic Quadrant graph as the most widely adopted of the ISVs included in the ranking, with, perhaps, an extensive set of features.

Early stage ISVs should neither expect to be included in a Magic Quadrant, nor, in this writer’s opinion, agree to be considered for inclusion in one of these rankings. Technology consumers are not often aware, neither as to the criteria Gartner applies as one of these Magic Quadrants is assembled, nor as to how Gartner applies one of these rankings. So early stage ISVs passed over, but mentioned, are oftened incorrectly considered “also ran” entries.

Maintaining an under the radar posture is preferred. It may even make more sense to continue to decline opportunities to participate in a Magic Quadrant ranking after achieving the critical mass required of each participant. Why risk inclusion in any quadrant other than Leaders, given consumer misunderstanding of what the rankings actually mean.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Is Collaboration the Irresistable Lure ISVs Need to Motivate Enterprise Business to Embrace Cloud Computing Offers?

Microsoft® appears to be using its Yammer business to equip SharePoint Online, Office 365, with ‘cloud only’ features. Does this point to collaboration as a very hot topic for enterprise business? Or is this move simply another example of engineers building ‘a solution without a problem’?

On June 3, 2014, Christophe Fiessinger, a Group Product Manager on Microsoft’s enterprise social team published a post titled Yammer brings conversations to your OneDrive and SharePoint Online files. This post introduced a new product called “document conversations”, which will only be available to businesses subscribing to Microsoft’s Office 365 cloud SaaS offer.

“Document conversations” look like a method to add comments to a work in progress (a document, spreadsheet, presentation, etc). This capability is, of course, now ubiquitous, and a familiar feature of not only each of the components of Microsoft’s Office suite, but also other authoring products, for example, Adobe Acrobat Professional, or InDesign, or even each of the components of Google Apps. But ‘document conversations’ expands the range of options for teams to collaborate. The feature is built on a “Yammer pane”, which is juxtaposed next to the work space, and can be used to directly solicit opinions from team members, or to present questions about the topic of the document-creation project. This “Yammer pane” can also appear next to an image included in a document, or even some external content.

Is Microsoft onto something here? Are enterprise business CIOs losing sleep over concerns about the extent to which personnel are collaborating (or, perhaps it would be better to say NOT collaborating) on organization-wide tasks, or even departmental objectives?

I am not prepared to answer this question, but I can confirm the components of the debut of this feature, meaning a set of capabilities exclusively offered to cloud SaaS subscribers only, is likely to be repeated, going forward, as Microsoft (and its competitors) ramp up efforts to persuade enterprise business to hasten the pace at which they are adopting cloud, SaaS offers.

ISVs have a lot to gain should enterprise business speed up this process. As their product marketing objectives become clearer (and I think the ascendance of Satya Nadella to the role of CEO at Microsoft, along with the introduction of the now familiar ‘mobile first, cloud first’ mantra is a good example of one of these businesses gaining clarity on just where it wants to go on this topic), then enterprise business prospects will likely witness a lot more of these efforts.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved


Highlights from the Keynote Presentation, Mobile World Congress, 2014, by Ginni Rometty, IBM CEO

Ginni Rometty, CEO at IBM®, delivered one of the Keynote sessions at Mobile World Congress, 2014. Her presentation focused on what she presented as today’s 3 prevalent themes (Rometty referred to them as “shifts”) changing the segment of the technology industry servicing enterprise business:

  1. Data
  2. Cloud
  3. and Engagement

Rometty characterized the current climate for ISVs like IBM as “both an exciting time and a disruptive time” (quoted from a video recording of Ginni Rometty’s Keynote at Mobile World Congress 2014. A link to a “Full Video” of here presentation has been provided, above).

But her own estimates of how long it will take large organizations of computer users (enterprise business and comparably sized communities in the public and not for profit sectors) to actually complete their shift to new paradigms for each of the themes was surprisingly conservative.

Rometty’s estimates are important. David Kirkpatrick, who introduced Rometty, claimed “IBM is the largest professional services company in the world.” (Ibid). Rometty, herself, offered some impressive statistics on IBM’s experience in the mobile computing market: ” . . . 6000 mobile engagements. We’ve had partnerships with 40 of the wireless carriers around the world, and we’ve spent decades building what I hope you think is a very good ‘Mobile first’ portfolio.” (Ibid).

1) Data
Rometty presented data as our newest “natural resource”. She focused on the enterprise business market for analytics and Business Intelligence (BI) systems. She claimed both of these types of enterprise system benefit most when the biggest set of data possible (she claimed enterprises are presently creating 2.5 million GBs, per day) is exposed to them.

She claimed “3 out of 4″ IBM customers are piloting big data projects right now, ” . . . Or have them in production.” (Ibid). But she went on to note only “1 out of 3” were using big data, BI, and analytics, right now, for product innovation. The remainder of her presentation on this first point amounted to a clear presentation of why IBM has mustered a lot of resources (she announced a cumulative investment, to date of $24 Billion dollars) to lead in this market.

2) Cloud
Rometty’s comments on the cloud theme were more cautious. She prefaced a prediction on enterprise business appetite for Cloud products and services with the caveat “when properly done”. By 2016, she predicted, ” . . . A quarter of the apps will be in the cloud.” (Ibid)

This pace is by no means meteoric. The preferred architecture for most enterprise businesses, she predicted, would be hybrid cloud, with 50% of companies implementing hybrid clouds by 2017.

I should add Rometty emphasized the importance of cloud security as a gating issue for enterprises businesses. Another point worth noting: Rometty announced IBM had spent $7 Billion on cloud, less than 1/3 of what they had invested in big data.

3) Engagement
Her presentation on this last theme, in my opinion, amounted to a preface to a presentation of IBM’s Watson product, as an example of the type of system enterprise business requires to successfully engage with today’s consumers. Rometty characterized today’s consumers as exhibiting an ever expanding willingness to provide personalized data in return for truly useful information. Once all this information is digitized, then a system like Watson will provide users with a uniquely capable tool to address rapidly shifting consumer requirements.

What was missing from her presentation on the engagement theme, in my opinion, was any meaningful mention of how businesses can transform social systems (blogs, newsfeeds, etc) into another version of the same kind of information Rometty claimed the data and cloud themes will eventually produce for product innovation.

Ira Michael Blonder

© IMB Enterprises, Inc. & Ira Michael Blonder, 2014 All Rights Reserved