• Customer Support in the Facebook and Twitter Era


    I’ve been a follower of Helpstream CEO Bob Warfield since before I begun blogging. He’s a super smart, super analytical SaaS commentator who left the world of full time blogging to enjoy the rewards of corporate leadership. I’d have…

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  • Integrating Google Wave into the Enterprise


    The one we’d all been waiting for – ever since the Rasmussen brothers announced Wave at Google I/O in May, we’ve been waiting for some hard examples of the power that Wave can bring. Gregory D’Alesandre (Dr Wave), Product Manager for Google Wave ran presented three examples of Wave integrations from Novell, ThoughtWorks and SAP.

    Every time you use any sort of communication technology you’re trying to achieve a goal, to get something done. With Google Wave the idea is that rather than understanding the “end goal”, users can start a Wave which can conform with the shifting objectives over time. D’Alesandre gave an introduction to Wave for the one or two people in the audience who haven’t seen it before. He explained that Google use Wave internally a lot and they find that all current communication technologies are a poor replacement for face to face interactions however every now and ten it’s better to interact electronically (he gave the example of a 12 person meeting with everyone trying to talk at the same time) – Wave enables this mass interaction without so much noise (although I’d have to say it does introduce significant dissonance as heavy users of multiple person IM will know).

    The Wave team has purposely avoided giving lots of lock-down options to Wave – if you allow people to lock their content down, Wave becomes very email-like – openness and flexibility increases the collaborative potential.

    D’Alesandre talked about Wave as a platform and invited their platform partners to show their offerings.

    First up Alexander Dreiling, Program Manager from SAP who demoed two gadgets that SAP has built – Gravity is a gadget that allows business process modeling to be collaboratively built. See the demo video below, and Timo Elliots earlier coverage here.

    Second up, Chad Wathington, VP, Product Development, ThoughtWorks demoed the integration of Wave with a software development project management tool. I covered the offering in more depth in another post but basically it allows for tasks to be created relating to a project all from within Wave and have them reflected in the project management tool. As I said in my post – this integration doesn’t show much more than could be achieved with a standard email/PM integration.

    And lastly Andy Fox, Vice President Engineering from Novell showed their integration using the Wave federation protocol – Pulse. Pulse aggregates multi channel communication as well as a list of relevant contacts – it’s effectively a social CRM/communication offering. It brought to mind Gist’s offering and, while it helps aggregate lots of data, it does little to ease the burden of the firehose of information. The addition it does bring is the enablement of visibility in real time – but it does raise some question as to the value of asynchronous vs synchronous communications.

    Some interesting integrations… but yet again nothing entirely ground breaking.





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  • A Google Wave Use-Case – Agility in Application Lifecycle Management


    I remember sitting enthralled at the keynote where Google Wave was first publicly announced – despite most of us being a little numb to general hype, most of us felt a bit of a tingle down the spine when seeing the Wave demo – it was just so goddam cool.

    Those of us who have used Wave however often end up saying, after a very short space of time, “well that’s cool and all – but what do we do now?”.

    Enter ThoughtWorks Studios with their integration between their Mingle project management tool and Google Wave. ThoughtWorks is demonstrating their integration today here at Enterprise 2.0 in San Francisco in a joint demo with the Google Wave product team (and, as an aside, it seems even Google realizes that they need to actively show users just how Wave is going to live up to its promise to reinvent the way we collaborate and communicate).

    The integration leverages Mingle’s latest release which added the following major functional areas to the product;

    • “Murmurs” Online Team Collaboration – using IM and Twitter-like functionality online conversations are automatically associated with a specific Mingle project artifact – then archived for on-demand retrieval and review. Uses XMPP so integrates with a variety of chat clients (screenshot below)
    • Integration with Tasktop – allowing developers to use whichever task tools work with their development environment, task notifications are automatically posted to Mingle
    • Program Management Capabilities – Allowing user created macros for reporting across disparate projects
    • Enterprise Scalability


    The idea of the integration is to show the how Wave can be applied to a real world situation, in Mingle’s case this is by using the project management tool to add structure and metadata to conversations in Google Wave. Users can create new artifacts in Mingle by selecting text within a Wave. They can view and interact with Mingle card data automatically, and they can see which conversations in Google Wave reference specific cards in Mingle. See the screenshot below)


    I put it to Chad Worthington, VP of product development for ThoughtWorks Studio that this integration was a tacit admission that users want to continue using their communication tool of choice – that is email. He didn’t deny this fact and expressed ThoughtWorks desire to mold to users preferences – this is fine but it does raise some questions about ongoing revenue and charging models – if people utilize your product entirely off-platform, that begs creates some difficulties. Just the kind of the issue Twitter is facing right now.

    While it’s cool to have an actual example and avoid those “well that’s cool, but what do we do now moments”, I struggle to see major differences between a cross Mingle/Wave collaboration and a collaboration using traditional PM tools – time will tell whether this particular use-case has legs. I’d also be interested to see if ThoughtWorks provides tools to do similar things in standard email as they’re powering within Wave,



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  • What E2.0 Champions are Doing Right… and Wrong


    Andrew McAfee, from the Center for Digital Business, MIT Sloan School of Management, believes we’ve reached a tipping point in terms of the acceptance of the tools and techniques of enterprise 2.0.

    McAfee sees some positive signs and some danger areas – “We have the opportunity to snatch defeat out of the jaws of success”. The way that’ll happen;

    • Declare war on the enterprise
    • Allow walled gardens to flourish – an interesting analogy to Napoleonic land division in Paris where smaller and smaller lots were created all divided with hedgerows – let’s not go there…
    • Accentuate the negative – the risks aren’t quite as bad as people make out, don’t dwell on them
    • Try to replace email
    • Fall in love with features – “what’s the simplest possible thing that could work”
    • Overuse the word “social”

    Andrew is the father of the Enterprise 2.0 term – while his shtick is getting perhaps a little tired – he’s still got a valuable voice to add to the discussion.

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  • SharePoint 2010 – Unwrapping the Release


    A live blog of the presentation…. Christian Finn, Director of SharePoint Product Management, and Alina Fu, Product Manager, Social Computing talk about the SharePoint 2010 offering. An interesting approach – Christian and Alina ran a “speed dating” session trying…

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  • 2009 – The Year of “A-ha!”


    Tammy Erickson, President of nGenera Innovation Network proclaimed that 2009 will be remembered as the year of “A-ha!”. Her presentation was very much in the spirit of Alvin Toffler’s Future Shock. Erickson pointed out some problems impacting upon the adoption of enterprise 2.0 and the changes needed to mitigate those problems. She believes that the train is leaving the station for enterprise 2.0 but that the fundamentals need to be addressed.

    Problem #1;

    • Old approaches have been mastered
    • Technology enables a very different level of performance
    • Competition will shift the playing field

    Erickson believes that Enterprise 2.0 is as game changing as the telex was in days gone by. The twentieth century icons where those who had the ability to master scale and cost. The steel mills, the auto makers. Today’s organizations are simply not optimized for the future. Reason #1 – they’re optimized with;

    • Division of responsibility
    • Specialization
    • Strict accountability – providing excellent control

    Going forwards though, enterprise 2.0 mobilizes intelligence;

    • The utilization of complex knowledge
    • Innovation through the contributions of many
    • Harnessing the smallest units of knowledge

    Reason #2 – traditional organizations are underpinned by;

    • Loyalty, reciprocated with protection and care
    • Individual autonomy
    • Identification with organizational units and individual managers
    • Based on planning

    Whereas new organizations have different assumptions;

    • performance based arrangements
    • collective purpose
    • identity with shared objectives
    • they’re based upon coordination not planning

    The ten factors that shift organizations – enables of collaborative capacity.;

    1. Highly engaged, committed participants
    2. Trust-based relationships
    3. Networking opportunities
    4. Selection, promotion and training based on collaboration
    5. Organization philosophy supporting a “community of adults”
    6. Executives who create a “gift culture”
    7. Leaders with both task and relationship management skills
    8. Productive and efficient behaviors and processes
    9. Clearly defined individual roles and responsibilities
    10. Important challenging tasks

    Reason #3 – The strategic role. Today the paradigm is

    • This is something we have to do to keep Gen Y happy – the recession put paid to that!
    • It’s extra, nice to have like fitness centers and day care
    • We don’t even know what “it” it

    Contrasted with the future organization

    • 2.0 supports a broad range of activities – with clear business objectives
    • Each best achieves through different organizational approaches and supported by different technologies

    Driving outcomes through collaborative intents;

    • Connect previously unrelated ideas
    • Access untapped people or expertise
    • Distribute work or risk
    • Co-create
    • Detect emerging patterns or trends
    • Pool judgments
    • Determine group-wide preferences
    • Air and debate multiple views
    • Influence views or norms
    • Coordinate in time and space

    Problem #4 – The technology itself. The concerns are;

    • It’s overwhelming – and difficult to harness
    • The solutions are heterogeneous and disconnected
    • Not secure or necessary relevant

    The coming realities;

    • Unifying approaches
    • Ways of partitioning and aggregating data
    • Ability to manage relationships

    Problem #5 – Engagement

    • Management 101 dictates
    • Directed activities
    • Clear instructions

    Participation 2.0 means;

    • Individual discretion
    • Dealing with rich content that flows through infinite links
    • Forming and maintaining complex relationships
    • Having trust, a stake, a voice, an impact and a community bond
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  • Selling the Case for Accelerating Business Performance with Enterprise Collaboration


    Oliver Marks and Sameer Patel – two of the leading lights in Enterprise 2.0 (that is experience in actually doing it rather than merely talking about it) presented this session. Their aim with the session was to move from…

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  • Layer7 – Abstracting Cloud Gateways


    I recently spoke with Scott Morrison, VP Engineering at Layer 7 Technologies, a SOA and governance company that has been doing appliance based gateways for years looking at traffic, cryptography, authentication, authorization, etc, and setting rules and policy. Layer…

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  • Xero Goes Personal – This Changes the Game


    An announcement from Xero today that I’ve known about for awhile but not been able to discuss publicly. From the media release; Online small business accounting software provider Xero (XRO) will launch a personal money manager in early 2010.…

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  • Enterprise Cloud Management from Conformity


    Recently I had a briefing from Conformity, a cloud application management platform vendor.

    Conformity seeks to be the hub, managing service provision for cloud/SaaS applications for enterprise. The rationale for this, as told by Scott Bils, co-founder and CMO for Conformity, is that SaaS applications are thus far relatively siloed in terms of provisioning, user management and access control.

    Bils contends that managing provisioning individually across multiple applications is simply not scalable and presents both a risk to enterprise and a barrier to the adoption of SaaS applications. As they say;

    SaaS and cloud applications provide attractive alternative solutions, however, the missing piece to the puzzle is providing enterprise-class management for these on-demand solutions that will enable companies to effectively manage and comply with the increased scrutiny imposed by new compliance and governance regulations.

    Enter Conformity, which provides a tool to manage the workflow associated with setting up users for service. Conformity is primarily a business process and workflow management offering, that is augmented by a partially automated offering – it is currently partnered with Salesforce.com, NetSuite, SuccessFactors, Xactly Incent, Google Apps, OpenAir and QuickArrow and for these applications offers truly automated provisioning, permissioning and de-provisioning of users.

    The main functional areas of the application are as follows;

    • User provisioning
    • Role and profile management – normalized permission models etc
    • Approval workflows – auditable workflows for change approvals
    • Directory integration
    • Compliance reporting
    • Usage analytics
    • Change management

    Conformity integrates with Active Desktop, so that changes within the active desktop directory are reflected within the control dashboard, it also runs back end consistency checks to ensure that permissions and authorizations at an application level reflect those within the control dashboard.

    What I really like about the Conformity approach is that it is very much workflow centric with a secondary automation play, rather than being primarily focused on the automation side of things. As I discussed with Bils, they’re never going to be able to integrate with every single application an enterprise might require, rather it is important that they document the workflows and processes for provisioning, such that Conformity becomes the hub for enterprise user management.

    Conformity also provides some visibility into cloud/SaaS application spend within an organization, an efficiency boosting service that, while somewhat peripheral to their core focus, should still prove useful.

    I like what Conformity is doing – their focus on workflow rather than technology is refreshing and the fact that they ease enterprises adoption of SaaS and general cloud solutions is good for all of us.

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