Box and Cognizant Partner To Develop Industry Applications

April 21 2016 10:06:08 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Today enterprise content management vendor Box and and business IT consulting firm Cognizant announced a partnership to develop industry specific applications. This is similar to the announcement Box and IBM made in June of 2015. 

MyPOV: It's good to see Box continuing to expand the ecosystem of partners that are leveraging the Box platform to build applications. This continues to validate their evolution from just enterprise file synchronization, storage and sharing to being a platform that can be used for the enterprise content management, workflow and security aspects of industry specific applications.

Here is short video of my thoughts on today's announcement:



Cisco Spark - On the Road To Success

March 8 2016 10:35:18 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Today Cisco announced two very strategic moves geared towards helping the success of their Cisco Spark collaboration platform.  

For those of you unfamiliar with Spark, it's Cisco's latest platform for team communication and collaboration. It brings together chat, voice calls, video meetings and file sharing. After several failed attempts at this space with Cisco Quad and Webex Social, Cisco finally appears to be on the right track in developing a platform and ecosystem that is more in line with what customers are looking for in a simple, cloud based, integrated tool. That said, there is still some confusion and overlap in their platform between Spark, WebEx, Jabber and Tropo. This is also a very competitive market with products like Slack, CoTap, Glip, HipChat, Unify Circuit, Ryver and others, which makes today's announcements event more significant.

Cisco Spark

 

The Success of a Platform Revolves Around Its Ecosystem

From their press release: "We want to make sure all great ideas come to life. We don’t want a lack of funding or support to get in the way. So in partnership with Cisco® Investments we have created a fund to invest $150 million in the Cisco Spark ecosystem. This fund will cover direct investments, joint development, additional enhancements and developer support."

As I mentioned above, the communication and collaboration market is a highly competitive one. It takes a lot to differentiate in this space, as most products have very similar features. Investing $150M to have 3rd party developers extend and enhance the functionality of Spark shows serious commitment from Cisco. Software vendors like Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and IBM already have large partner ecosystems, and recently Slack announced an $80M fund for developers. In a pre-briefing before today's announcement I joked with Cisco that they must have tried hard to get $160M so they could say they doubled Slack's deal.

With so many options available to developers today, it's vital that vendors build strong and trusting relationships with their partners. They must offer them training, support, financing, marketing, and more. While today's announcement is a great first step, the true measurements with come in 3, 6, 12 months when we see how this fund has been leveraged and what solutions have been created because of it. I hope Cisco is open with this information and shares several success stories. 

For more information visit the Cisco Spark Developer Fund website.

 

Build and Buy

Cisco also announced today the acquisition of search company Synata. I've been looking at this company since early last year, as they claim to help solve a problem I've been very vocal about around "social collaboration", this struggle of information and input overload. While everyone likes to complain about their overflowing mail inboxes, the reality for most people is that social tools can quickly become even more overwhelming and unmanageable that email ever was. Yes, sharing information is certainly better than it being locked away. However with departments, teams, companies even entire communities sharing information, finding the right people and content can quickly become a daunting ta sk. Vendors such as Microsoft (with Delve), IBM (via Watson), Google (with Google Now) and Salesforce (via SalesforceIQ) have been focused on not just helping people "search" for information, but instead helping them discover things related to the context of tasks they are working on. The acquisition of Synata signals Cisco's start down a similar path to helping people connect with the content they need to help them get their work done.

At the higher level, today's acquisition shows me that Cisco is not trying to build everything on their own. They are willing to invest in the Spark platform and acquire companies that fill gaps in the platform. They have done this in the past, with various degrees of success. For example: 

  • June 2014, Cisco acquired a Kollaborate.io (Assemblage), one of the early vendors that was creating "digital canvases" where information from multiple tools could be "assembled" on a single screen where people could comment on and share the information
  • Dec 2013, Cisco acquired Collaborate.com, a social task management vendor. Spark is still lacking in task management features.
  • Aug 2011, Cisco acquired Versly, Microsoft Office document creating, viewing and sharing

I hope that today's acquisition of Synata manifests itself in Spark more successfully then these acquisitions did in WebEx Social.

 

Leverage Your Base

While acquiring new customers is always the goal for software vendors, I think it is important for Cisco to focus on enhancing the collaboration experiences of their existing customers. I've been on thousands of WebEx meetings over the years. Not once have I been part of a collaborative process before the meeting, then had that information integrated during the meeting, then had the content, conversations, follow-ups, etc, from the meeting persist after the meeting ended. I hope to see Cisco use Spark to create a highly collaborative experience before, during and after WebEx meetings, perhaps merging the two one day.  Why have both?  I had hoped to Citrix would do this with GoToMeeting and Podio, but they did not. I hoped Microsoft would do this with Yammer and Skype (Lync), but they did not. I hoped IBM would do this with Sametime and Connections, but they did not. Let's see what Cisco can do.

 

On The Right Road

In conclusion, both of today's moves show Cisco's commitment to Spark not just as a product, but a platform for developers to build solutions that help people get work done. I applaud them on both the investment fund and the acquisition, moves that validate why I named Cisco Spark one of the 18 Products Shaping the Future of Work. Now Ciscos's next step is to prove success with customer and partner case studies.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 



Looking Back At Some Of My Thoughts On Assisted/Intelligent Collaboration

February 15 2016 11:13:36 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Below are some of the thoughts I've shared over the last few years on assisted/intelligent collaboration. (which term do you prefer and why?)

This is the next stage in personally productivity and team collaboration software, where the tools (software) help people work more efficiently and effectively. I have several reports coming out on these topics, and look forward to continuing my work in this area.

Scroll through the Storify collection below...



IBM Connect 2016 - A Little Swagger Back In Their Step

February 8 2016 08:04:37 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

The week before IBM Connect 2016 I wrote about the things I hoped to hear IBM address at their annual collaboration-focused conference. At that time I summarized my thinking with "I look forward to this new rebooted IBM Connect. I believe it will pay homage to the past while forcing an awakening for the future.” Having returned from the event I can now definitively tell you, it did just that.

In this post I will look back at each of the points I brought up and how IBM did in each. For those looking for some quick take-aways, here’s are some high-level thoughts:

  • IBM Connect 2016 was the best IBM collaboration event in several years. It was filled with positive news (as a conference should be) but I am worried that once the shine and polish of the event wears off, things will go back to normal. We’ve all witnessed IBM over commit and under-deliver before. I won't say I have no faith in IBM to deliver, instead I'll say I challenge them to prove they can. I think IBM learned a lot about the design processes, marketing, and product delivery over the last year with Verse. Insert the cliche of your choice, "Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice, shame on me.” , “One bitten, twice shy”, etc. Hopefully, this time around things will be different. They have to be, because there isn't a third chance.
  • The most important news of the entire conference came at the end, when Inhi Cho Suh was announced as the new GM of IBM Collaboration Solutions (ICS). Note the word collaboration is back, no more “social”. For those of you unfamiliar with Inhi, she’s one of the driving forces behind 30+ acquisitions that IBM has made in the data and analytics space. Most recently, she was in charge of the Weather Channel acquisition. IBM placing Inhi here shows serious commitment to getting ICS back on track.
  • While there was very little in the way of product announcements (seriously if another IBM tells me that Connections now has nested folders I am going to scream) Verse and Connections showed improved user experiences, new integrations with partner applications, and glimpses of how they will leverage IBM Watson’s “cognitive” capabilities to help automate common tasks to help people get work done. Connect 2016 was more about what’s coming and less about what’s available now.
  • IBM has started working on a new collaboration tool, currently called Project Toscana, which seeks to provide a more modern take on how people perform core collaborative tasks such as sharing images, videos, files and notes, creating project teams, answering questions, etc. than IBM’s current offerings. Think of it as “if you were going to build a collaboration app in 2016, where would you start” as opposed to “what should we add/change to our decade old platform."
  • Terms like IBM Watson, IBM BlueMix, Cognitive Computing and IBM Design are everywhere. It’s a new vocabulary for some of the long time attendees/customers, but necessary to learn if you plan on proceeding in the ICS world. Long time customers and partners, don’t expect a lot of news around Notes/Domino. IBM is certainly not ending them, but they are not the core of ICS's future. Verse is the new email client. BlueMix is the new platform for building collaborative applications. Toscana is (could be) the new Connections.

Now let’s dive into detail about the points I made before the conference. You’re going to see below that the individual scores are not that great. However, I don’t want them to take away from the fact that IBM Connect 2016 was a good event and for the most part very positively received by the customers and partners I spoke with. That said, as an industry analyst I don’t just experience one event a year or deal with a single vendor. My ranking are based on my knowledge of the industry as a whole and provide IBM guidance on where the y need to improve.

Vision - First and foremost, I want to sit in the audience and pretend I have no previous knowledge and see if I leave with a clear understanding of how IBM helps personal productivity and team collaboration (both internal and external). I want to hear how the IBM collaboration tools fit into the larger IBM vision, not just how other parts of IBM (like Watson and BlueMix) are helping collaboration. How does collaboration fit into cognitive computing? How does collaboration fit into application development? Not the other way around. Microsoft has made their vision clear, "Reinvent productivity and business process in this mobile-first, cloud first world”. I’d like to see something like that from IBM. I know IBM's company vision revolves around the Cognitive-era, so I expect we'll be hearing a lot about this at Connect.

Score (7/10) - As expected, IBM did a good job of explaining that cognitive computing is the way forward for the company. After all, Watson is currently one of their main differentiators. Other vendors such as Microsoft (CNTK) and Google (TensorFlow) certainly have their own Artificial Intelligence tools/platforms, but they are not household (or should I say boardroom?) names the way IBM Watson is. I would have liked to have seen more indications of how ICS is important to IBM, not just how other IBM technologies play a role in ICS. For example, IBM has made a big deal of their partnership with Apple to create iOS business applications. Why not embed collaboration into all of those and show them off at IBM Connect?

IBM showed two new projects that show the direction they are taking. The first called Orient Me, revolves around their existing Verse and Connections products. Orient Me is user experience that:

  • Adds the “Important to me” banner that is currently at the top of IBM Verse to IBM Connections
  • Expands “Important to me” to include groups (rather than just people)
  • Adds a new Action Centre that shows notifications, outstanding tasks and favourite items
  • Provides a new home page for all of IBM’s cloud offerings that surfaces the content that is most important to each person. For those of you familiar with Microsoft Delve, Orient Me provides similar functionality. For example, if you log on it may show you all the people, pages, posts and files associated with a project that you’re currently working on, even if those objects are spread across a variety of IBM Connections communities.

The second is called Project Toscana. Toscana is the result of IBM taking a look at the core collaborative functions that people do such as sharing statuses, asking questions, sharing files and creating content, and reimagining how you would assemble those into a product if you were starting today. To put it simply, IBM Connections is showing it’s age and seams, and Toscana is a way to modernize the collaborate elements of IBM’s portfolio by reassembling them in different ways. Toscana will also allow developers and 3rd parties to add new features and functions.

As part of Toscana IBM also showed a lightweight collaborative document editor. While this is nice, IBM is way behind Microsoft OneNote, Evernote, DropBox Paper, BoxNotes, Google Keep and several others in this area.

My thoughts: Over the next few years IBM could bring together Verse and Connections into a single product, surfaced with the work they are doing in Toscana. Instead of multiple products with multiple user experiences, Toscana could be the single communication and collaboration platform from IBM. No more Notes/Domino/Verse versus Connections versus Sametime versus IBM Docs versus IBM Files, etc, etc, etc. Just one tool that adjusts to the context, needs and preferences of the person using it.

Customers - I want to hear new customer references. Big ones. Name brands. Not upgrades. New customers. Nothing proves success like customers.

Score (7/10) - IBM did an ok job here. The marque customer of the week was Lufthansa Group, who will be deploying IBM Connections to 120,000 people, 40,000 of which are switching from Jive Software. They also mentioned Flex Contact Center which will be deploying IBM Verse to 11,000 employees. Also long standing customers like Bosch, TD Ameritrade, Colgate Palmolive and others presented on their deployment. This is a very important area, especially with Facebook already citing Royal Bank of Scotland, Caldwell Banker, Club Med, Heineken and Lagardère as customers and their product has not even shipped to the public yet.

Business Partners - One of the keys to Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and even Slack’s success is size and momentum of their business partner ecosystems. These vendors have a large number of companies building addons and integrations for their tools. Those vendors each have robust application catalogs/stores/marketplaces that enable people to extend their products with a few simple clicks (and maybe a credit card). In almost every product briefing I am in new products support “Exchange and Gmail” or “work with Office365”, but I very rarely hear IBM mentioned. I’d like to learn if IBM Verse and/or Connections has made any progress in these areas.

Platform - Similar to the point above about add-ons, what is IBM doing to help developers build stand-alone collaborative applications? The IBM application platform is BlueMix, I hope to leave with a good understanding of how developers use it to build collaborative applications. Vice versa, what components of IBM collaboration can be embedded into other applications? What incentive do developers have to build on IBM technologies versus Salesforce1, AWS, Azure, etc?

Combined Score (5/10) - IBM did a nice job during the keynote of highlighting integration with Box and Salesforce, two very important partners. While several times during the week I saw IBM talking about how many integration they have and showing a long list of connectors, they usually neglected to mention these are created by IBM Business Partner AppFusions, not IBM. The partner pavilion looked better than it did in 2015, and the partners I spoke with said they had a much better week this year. IBM announced integration with TrustSphere, which queries LinkedIn for relationship data about Connections profiles. I saw some really nice demos from companies like Actiance, Ephox and Kaltura and Kudos which I suggest all IBM customers take a look at. There were a few sessions for developers to learn about Xpages, BlueMix and Watson, but the event was missing the massive buzz of something like Salesforce’s Trailhead developer zone. IBM says there will be more emphasis on partners at their IBM InterConnect conference in Vegas, but I think they missed an opportunity here. Salesforce, Microsoft, Google and even Slack are growing their partner ecosystems. IBM needs partners to make Ver se, Connections and Toscana a success. I look forward to eventually seeing a “runs in Verse” logo.

Investments - IBM’s largest investments these days are around data and analytics. Their various acquisitions and partnerships with companies like Twitter (which they should buy now since the stock is so low), The Weather Company, and Box are all part of a strategy to get their hands (well algorithms) on as much data as possible. That data is then fed into IBM Watson to hopefully derive insights which can help improve business outcomes. I’d like to see IBM show similar commitment to analyzing the vast amounts of employee interactions that take place in email, calendar, contacts, social networking, etc. Google (with Google Now), Microsoft (with Delve Organization Analytics), and Salesforce (with SalesforceIQ) are far ahead of IBM in these areas. Microsoft is on a productivity/collaboration buying spree lately, having acquired Accompli, LiveLoop, Sunrise, Wanderlust, VoloMetrix, MileIQ and most recently Talko. I’d like to see IBM show some sign of investment in collaboration.

Score (1/10) - There were no announcements of this type at IBM Connect, however I am hopeful the 1/10 will quickly increase. As mentioned above, the announcement of Inhi Cho Shu as the new GM of ICS could be a massive game changer. In Inhi’s previous role as VP of IBM’s Analytics division she was part of over $20B, yes that’s billion, in investment via dozens of acquisitions. Let’s hope IBM provides her this type of opportunity in the ICS division.

Business Outcomes - One of the strengths that SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft and Infor have is that their social tools are deeply integrated with their business process software (such as CRM, HR, ERP, Finance, Legal, etc). IBM has done a good job integrating social into Kenexa, but what are they doing in the other areas? How does IBM’s collaboration software help a sales team close a deal or a supply chain discuss a shipment? Will IBM be partnering in any of these areas? Acquiring? Building? Will IBM provide any templates for specific business processes and/or integrations? Similarly, what about industry verticals? IBM has always had strong sales/services around verticals, so how about having tailored collaboration offerings for healthcare, manufacturing, energy, media, etc.?

Score (5/10) - During the keynote IBM played out a scenario that revolved around Marketing, however it did not include integrations with any of the most common marketing tools like Marketo, Eloqua, Constant Contact, HubSpot, ExactTarget, or even Hootsuite which IBM does have integrations with. Repeat that sentence for things like supply chain, manufacturing, or any other industry. IBM keeps talking about “New Way To Work” but they are not showing it. Verse and Connections are certainly improving the way people communicate, connect with colleagues and share information, but they are not yet fundamentally changing the way business professionals do their jobs. IBM has great offerings in these areas with their Apple and IBM business applications. I’d love to see those apps be infused with components of ICS’s portfolio. That would make for some truly fantastic demos.

Innovation - When I think back over the last decade or so of the tours I've had of IBM Research's Innovation Labs, I can’t think of anything that has made it into shipping software, or even into the hands of the public to look at. Microsoft on the other hand releases new “garage" products all the time. Microsoft is also rapidly adding new products such as Delve, Sway, Planner (beta) and GigJam (beta) that truly change the way people work. IBM Verse has done a nice job at integrating frequent contacts, email and calendar on a single screen, but it ’s time to do more than just make a better email client. I’d like to see IBM redefine the way we create content, share information, connect with colleagues/prospects, plan/attend meetings, organize and execute projects, etc. I’ve not seen any improvement in calendar nor IBM Activities in many years. That needs to change. For more on this topic, see my report: Collaboration Vendors Shaping the Future of Work.

Score (5/10) - Once again the IBM Innovation Lab was one of my favourite parts of the week. As expected several of the projects revolved around Watson/AI such as “Enterprise Cognitive Assistants” and “eAssistant: Cognitive Assistance for Conservation Auto-Triage and Briefings”. While these projects are exciting, unfortunately I didn’t see anything that I’ve not seen from IBM’s competition… many of which are already well past the lab stage and are already shipping. I didn’t see anything about how the integration of IoT and collaboration is going to change the future of work. There were no large touch screens, virtual/augmented reality glasses, motion sensitive controllers, clear/curved glass surfaces or modular furniture stretching my imagination about the future workspace. IBM’s researchers are some of the smartest on the planet, they need to be given free reign to push the envelope of what comes next in personal productivity and team collaboration.


In Conclusion


Overall (7/10) - The title of my original blog post was “IBM Connect 2016 - A New Hope Awakens”. Star Wars references aside, I do think Connect 2016 did just that… it gave customers and partners hope that things are improving for IBM Collaboration Services. For the first time in a few years IBM feels like they are not only on a better path but they also have a better attitude about it. IBM Connect 2016 put a little bit of swagger back into IBM’s step, but they have a very short window to prove they can deliver.

 

UPDATE Feb 9, 2016: I should have included IBM Design. They are critical to the success of ICS products. They had a great Design Lab, and ran several interactive design sessions. People have also asked me about Notes/Domino and Sametime. Honestly, I didn't attend any sessions about them or really hear IBM mention them much. If you have info you want to share about these areas, please leave a comment.

HighQ Raises $50M To Continue Growth In Social Business Market

January 27 2016 10:18:52 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

There was some big news today in the highly competitive enterprise social business market. By big, I mean $50 million big: 
HighQ completes $50 million growth financing round from One Peak Partners, Morgan Stanley Merchant Banking and Goldman Sachs Private Capital

You may not be familiar with London, UK based HighQ, but they are a leading vendor of collaboration software in the legal and financial services industries. With the money from today's funding round, they hope to expand their presence in North America and into several other industries.

Some of the strengths of the HighQ are:

  • Seamless integration of social networking, content creation (blogs and wikis), tasks, events and file sharing
  • Extremely granular permissions/security model including viewing, editing, printing, saving, even watermarking
  • iSheets, which is an online spreadsheet/database tool that enables people to easily create applications with structured, or organized data. So rather than just putting information into a document or wiki, you can create records, sort, filter, run reports, etc.
  • Very clean, modern design
  • Private messaging/chat

Areas I'd like to see HighQ improve:

  • Real time communication, including video chats/conferences and screensharing
  • Analytics to help both users and administrations gain insight into the content and conversations
  • Developer ecosystem for business add-ons and extensions
  • Deeper enterprise software integrations with products like Microsoft Office, Salesforce, ZenDesk, Workday, etc. 

To get a quick overview of one of their three products, HighQ Collaborate watch the following video. 

 

By the way all vendors should take note, this is how a product video should be done. It explains a problem and how HighQ solves it, shows the actual product (not just a fake animation), and it is just a few minutes long.  Well done.

 

HighQ is a Constellation Research customer. I look forward to continuing to advise them as they improve their platform and expand their customer base.  Congratulations on today's news, it is well deserved.

 

 

 

 



IBM Connect 2016 - A New Hope Awakens

January 26 2016 05:03:31 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

Next week IBM is holding their annual conference focused on collaboration software. However, this year things are going to be a bit different.

The conference’s roots date back to the early 1990s in what was originally called Lotusphere. That event focused on products like Lotus Notes/Domino, Sametime, Quickplace and others. Over the years as IBM evolved their collaboration portfolio the conference added sessions around the more “IBMish” technologies like WebSphere Portal and DB2. These additions did not resonate well with the faithful Lotus customers and business partners. In 2013 the event was renamed IBM Connect and added the IBM Kenexa portfolio of Human Resource and Learning Management products (which they combine under the term, Smarter Workforce). This change was also not met with universal acceptance. With market momentum shifting away from IBM to competitors like Microsoft, Google and Salesforce, many people believed that last year (2015) would be the final incarnation of the conference. The event was much smaller than previous years (down from several hotels to just one), but to the joy of the faithful, was much more focused on the core collaboration technologies that customers and partners wanted to hear about. Due to the success of the 2015 event, IBM Connect is back for 2016, but for the first time in 20 years will not be held at the Walt Disney Swan and Dolphin resort, instead taking place at the Orlando Hilton. 


In my opinion, the change is a good thing. It’s time to break the ties to the past. It’s time for a reboot. With that in mind, here are the main areas I’d like to hear about at IBM Connect 2016:


Vision - First and foremost, I want to sit in the audience and pretend I have no previous knowledge and see if I leave with a clear understanding of how IBM helps personal productivity and team collaboration (both internal and external). I want to hear how the IBM collaboration tools fit into the larger IBM vision, not just how other parts of IBM (like Watson and BlueMix) are helping collaboration. How does collaboration fit into cognitive computing? How does collaboration fit into application development? Not the other way around. Microsoft has made their vision clear, "Reinvent productivity and business process in this mobile-first, cloud-first world”. I’d like to see something like that from IBM.

UPDATE: I know IBM's company vision revolves around the Cognitive-era, so I expect we'll be hearing a lot about this at Connect.  I'd previously mentioned on Twitter that to make the keynote more fun, we should all take a shot each time IBM says Cognitive. :-)

Customers - I want to hear new customer references. Big ones. Name brands. Not upgrades. New customers. Nothing proves success like customers.

Business Partners - One of the keys to Microsoft, Google, Salesforce and even Slack’s success is size and momentum of their business partner ecosystems. These vendors have a large number of companies building add-ons and integrations for their tools. Those vendors each have robust application catalogs/stores/marketplaces that enable people to extend their products with a few simple clicks (and maybe a credit card). In almost every product briefing I am in new products support “Exchange and Gmail” or “work with Office365”, but I very rarely hear IBM mentioned. I’d like to learn if IBM Verse and/or Connections has made any progress in these areas.

Platform - Similar to the point above about add-ons, what is IBM doing to help developers build stand-alone collaborative applications? The IBM application platform is BlueMix, I hope to leave with a good understanding of how developers use it to build collaborative applications. Vice versa, what components of IBM collaboration can be embedded into other applications? What incentive do developers have to build on IBM technologies versus Salesforce1, AWS, Azure, etc?

Investments - IBM’s largest investments these days are around data and analytics. Their various acquisitions and partnerships with companies like Twitter (which they should buy now since the stock is so low), The Weather Company, and Box are all part of a strategy to get their hands (well algorithms) on as much data as possible. That data is then fed into IBM Watson to hopefully derive insights which can help improve business outcomes. I’d like to see IBM show similar commitment to analyzing the vast amounts of employee interactions that take place in email, calendar, contacts, social networking, etc. Google (with Google Now), Microsoft (with Delve Organization Analytics), and Salesforce (with SalesforceIQ) are far ahead of IBM in these areas. Microsoft is on a productivity/collaboration buying spree lately, having acquired Accompli, LiveLoop, Sunrise, Wanderlust, VoloMetrix, MileIQ and most recently Talko. I’d like to see IBM show some sign of investment in collaboration.

Business Outcomes - One of the strengths that SAP, Oracle, Salesforce, Microsoft and Infor have is that their social tools are deeply integrated with their business process software (such as CRM, HR, ERP, Finance, Legal, etc). IBM has done a good job integrating social into Kenexa, but what are they doing in the other areas? How does IBM’s collaboration software help a sales team close a deal or a supply chain discuss a shipment? Will IBM be partnering in any of these areas? Acquiring? Building? Will IBM provide any templates for specific business processes and/or integrations? Similarly, what about industry verticals? IBM has always had strong sales/services around verticals, so how about having tailored collaboration offerings for healthcare, manufacturing, energy, media, etc.?

Innovation - When I think back over the last decade or so of the tours I've had of IBM Research's Innovation Labs, I can’t think of anything that has made it into shipping software, or even into the hands of the public to look at. Microsoft on the other hand releases new “garage" products all the time. Microsoft is also rapidly adding new products such as Delve, Sway, Planner (beta) and GigJam (beta) that truly change the way people work. IBM Verse has done a nice job at integrating frequent contacts, email and calendar on a single screen, but it’s time to do more than just make a better email client. I’d like to see IBM redefine the way we create content, share information, connect with colleagues/prospects, plan/attend meetings, organize and execute projects, etc. I’ve not seen any improvement in calendar nor IBM Activities in many years. That needs to change. For more on this topic, see my report: Collaboration Vendors Shaping the Future of Work

Marketing - Is IBM still going to push “A New Way To Work”? I’ve been pretty vocal with my dislike for this phrase, as I’ve not yet seen anything from IBM that really changes the way people work. They have improved email (which is a good thing) but I have yet to see how they change the way employees do their jobs. This is tie d into innovation above. I also don't like the conference theme "Make every moment count". That seems like the type of thing you say when you're worried about the future. Perhaps I'll change my mind when I see how it is used at the show.

Let's Get Personal - Let’s stop wishing IBM would have a consumer play. IBM is not good at consumer offerings. They do not have a web search engine, map/navigation, news, social network or file/photo sharing service that people use in their personal lives. They failed miserably at trying to provide a public version of Verse for email. It’s time to lay this hope to rest. The B in IBM is business, they should focus there.

 

UPDATE - I didn't mention IoT.  I wonder what role IBM sees IoT playing in the future of collaboration.


Moving On

Let’s all go into this event with an open mind, and accept that the days of Lotusphere are over. The show is going to be smaller than in the past. It will be more like a customer conference, not an industry event. That’s ok, IBM needs to keep their current clients happy, but I don’t think a lot of new client prospects will be in attendance. Also let’s try and not put too much focus on personnel changes. Yes of course they matter, but they are not telltale signs of the apocalypse. I look forward to this new rebooted IBM Connect. I believe it will pay homage to the past, while forcing an awakening for the future. I hope IBM addresses the things I’ve mentioned above. Finally, I hope to see you there.

 

Feedback Please

Are there areas I’ve missed? Are there things you disagree with? Do my thoughts echo your own? I’d love to hear from you in the comments.


 



Salesforce AppExchange Celebrates 10 Years of Platform Success

January 13 2016 03:48:12 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

On January 14, 2016 the Salesforce AppExchange turned 10 years old.  That makes it more than 2 years older than the iPhone App Store, which opened on July 10, 2008!  For those of you unfamiliar with the AppExchange, it's a catalog of applications built by Salesforce partners that enables customers to add functionality to their use of Salesforce. Do you want to add Human Resources (HR), Supply Chain (ERP), or financial features? There's an app (well dozens) for that. On the collaboration side, do you want to add web-conferencing or task management? There's an app for that.

When choosing a vendor, one of the most important things to consider is how vibrant the company's business partner ecosystem is. The more partners a company has, the more features and functionality will be available. A flourishing partner ecosystem shows that developers have faith that the platform is a leader, and someone they want to invest their time and money on. With close to 3000 apps now available for Salesforce, it's quite clear that 3rd party developers feel confident Salesforce is a company they need to build products for.

To get started building applications for Salesforce, visit their developer site named Trailhead for documentation and tutorials.

The Salesforce AppExchange created the model that several other software companies have strived to emulate. Collaboration vendors such as BoxClarizen, Google AppsMicrosoft OfficePodio and Slack now offer integrated catalogs of their own.

 

 

Here is an infographic that Salesforce created to highlight some key milestones.