Category: Enterprise 2.0

The idea has been around for years–using tools like blogs and wikis in a corporate setting–but now it has a catchy name: Enterprise 2.0.

Web 2.0 & the Open Source CMS

Dr. Ian Howells, Alfresco’s Chief Marketing Officer, and I will be doing a webinar on Web 2.0 trends in the enterprise and the impact of these trends on content management.

This web seminar will cover:

  • The importance of Web 2.0 in the context of content management strategies and the competitive landscape.
  • How to get beyond the hype and leverage Web 2.0 techniques and technologies to deliver dynamic and interactive content.
  • How to tap into the fast-growing value of the Web 2.0 ecosystem to drive organizational productivity and competitive advantage, while still meeting the compliance and security needs of business.
  • How these ideas have been put into practice by Optaros for companies like Endeca and Swisscom using Alfresco Enterprise as the technology platform for a Web 2.0 solution

If you are interested, you can register online here.

WorkBook is a corporate overlay for Facebook

Via Andrew McAfee‘s blog, WorkBook, from WorkLight is a “corporate overlay” for Facebook. It somehow let’s your company’s users continue to use Facebook, but in a secure way, and incorporates data sources from within the firewall.

Here’s Andrew’s post.

I think I need to see more than a screenshot before I decide how interesting this is. It’s not clear to me yet exactly how WorkBook adds a security layer, how it connects to enterprise data sources, how those are made available, etc.
Also, I understand the security concerns raised when a company says, “Let’s just use the public instance of Facebook for our intranet,” but the specific constraint one of Andrew’s commenters proposed which is that “the corporate admin  [should] manage who they can be friends with” seems ridiculous. An internal social networking site in which people are not free to make connections to whomever they want seems doomed to failure.

Notes from the Gilbane conference on content management and collaboration

The Gilbane Conference on Content Management and Collaboration wrapped up last week in Boston. This was my first Gilbane conference. The most notable thing about the conference is that all of the sessions are made up of panelists participating in a moderated discussion rather than single speaker, death-by-powerpoint sessions. I found the format refreshing initially, but quickly discovered the downside which is that the panels can easily get way off-topic.

Some rough notes from the conference appear below…

Collaboration Case Studies: Pfizer

  • Pfizer implemented MediaWiki, initially to use as a knowledgebase.
  • Known as Pfizerpedia, the site gets 12,000 unique visitors per month.
  • Key adoption factors were: Seeding the wiki with content, promoting early adoption through key champions, taking advantage of pent-up demand, holding the hands of the users as they learned to use the technology, providing guidelines for acceptable use, integrating the wiki with other content stores (team spaces and formal document management), tracking and reporting on usage and impact
  • Pfizer found that because they lack enterprise search, their wiki evolved into a user-maintained index of sorts. I found it odd that an organization that is so knowledge-centric would lack enterprise search.

Collaboration Case Studies: Mitre

  • This was a great example of Enterprise 2.0 in the real world.
  • Components of their solution: Portal (Oracle), Team spaces (Sharepoint), Search and Expertise Location (Google Search Appliance), Social Bookmarking (Scuttle). If they have wikis or blogs I missed what they are specifically using.
  • Their “Phonebook” app was really compelling. Beyond just being a corporate directory with contact and org info, it allowed users to see what communities everyone belonged to, documents they’ve published, projects they are assigned to, things they’ve bookmarked, and whether or not they are online.

Look at for patterns and anti-patterns around wiki implementations.

According to McKinsey, 40% of the work done in western organizations is Tacit which includes decision making, collaboration, and knowledge management. This is where the focus of IT investments should be.


Kapow showed a demo of their mash-up maker tool. The simple example was that of being in a spreadsheet and needing to retrieve the stock price for a given symbol. Their point was that not all web sites have an API but with their point-and-click tool you can create REST-based services on top of any web page. In their example, they fired up Kapow, opened the website within the tool and highlighted the stock symbol field to define it as one of the service’s parameters. They then clicked the stock quote button which returned the price. They highlighted the returned price and defined that as the value the service should return. That’s all they had to do to define the service which they then deployed to a locally running server. They then went into Excel and wrote a formula which invoked the service using the stock symbol in the currently-highlighted cell as the service parameter to return the stock price. Obviously, if changes their markup, service will have to be redefined, but it was easy to see how business people with little or no technical skills could create their own mash-ups, even when the data sources don’t have an existing API.

IBM showed a demo of their mash-up maker called QEDWiki. They showed how they could build mashups through a web browser. Their tool didn’t provide the service builder–the value of the tool seemed to be bringing together data from existing REST-exposed sources into a single page and being able to do that configuration in the browser. They mentioned a mash-up tool being available at Alphaworks but it wasn’t clear whether or not that was the same package being demo’d.

Opening Keynote

Have you noticed how chummy Adobe and Alfresco are these days? John Newton, Alfresco CTO, and David Mendels, SVP from Adobe, were both on the opening keynote panel. The two were definitely in sync on where they thought content management was going. John said he thinks social computing will drive ECM from being used by 10% of the people in an organization today to being used by 80% or 90% in the near future. He mentioned the Facebook integration that’s been getting so much press lately. David said that content must be service-enabled so that it can be assembled in new ways which plays right into Alfresco’s recent addition of the REST framework.

Mendels also let it slip that Adobe has two hosted content management solutions, both of which run on Alfresco. One is Buzzword, which Adobe recently acquired. The other wasn’t named.

Alfresco says it’s all about connections. Adobe says it’s all about interaction. Seems pretty in-step to me.

WCM Keynote

This was a disappointing mix of closed-source WCM vendors. None of the vendors differentiated themselves at all or offered up anything new or interesting with regard to where WCM is headed.

WCM Analyst Panel

As a general rule, you shouldn’t miss an opportunity to hear Tony Byrne speak. His honesty and straightforwardness is always refreshing at these events. He gave the audience a piece of advice regarding evaluating CMS vendors which was to insist on a bakeoff. He said, “You wouldn’t buy a ferrari by watching the sales guy drive the car around the lot, you’d insist on getting behind the wheel. Why should it be different with a CMS?” I’d add a bit to that. When you do the test drive, you should take your mechanic.

I see many customers making CMS decisions before thinking about who’s going to do the implementation and the customization. Or they wait too long to get a professional services firm involved in the process. Obviously, I’m biased–my ECM practice at Optaros is in the business of helping clients with CMS evaluations and customizations–but the point is to seek advice from subject matter experts. Even if you do a bakeoff, there’s still a lot to learn from the people that have been there that you might not uncover during the bakeoff.

The Future of Collaboration/Enterprise 2.0

I was extremely frustrated with this session. I attended thinking the panel would stick to the topic–Enterprise 2.0. Unfortunately, the discussion was around everything but that. The moderator and the panel seemed to confuse “Web 2.0” with “Enterprise 2.0”. Rather than talk about how Web 2.0 technologies can be applied within an organization to boost collaboration, leverage the power of the social network across the org, and reap the benefits of a less-structured, self-forming, self-regulated approach to Knowledge Management (this is McAfee’s and generally everybody else’s definition of Enterprise 2.0), the entire session was devoted to old ideas around customer engagement, customer-driven product development, and online communities. It was a very extranet/internet-centric discussion which entirely misses the point.

I wasn’t the only one who was frustrated–after asking the panel a question which essentially boiled down to “Is it you or me? Which one of us is confused?” several people approached me to share their disappointment.

Andrew McAfee

This was a panel composed of Frank Gilbane and Andrew McAfee. McAfee has done a lot of research around Enterprise 2.0 at Harvard and is always an entertaining speaker. Unfortunately, the format and the length of the slot didn’t really give him much room to stretch his legs. I did get a chance to ask him if he had done any research into the size of an organization that’s required to get the full network effect inherent in Enterprise 2.0 solutions. He said no one really knows yet what the minimum size is but anecdotal evidence suggests it’s “surprisingly small”. If you are looking for examples of real-world Enterprise 2.0 implementations, you should check out the site he started for capturing Enterprise 2.0 case studies.

Gartner Portals, Content, and Collaboration Conference: Day 3 Notes

Planning for Five Major Mutually Reinforcing Discontinuities

This discussion was about how the following five things affect vendors and the IT landscape:

  • SAAS
  • Global Class [Infrastructure]
  • Open Source
  • Web 2.0
  • Consumerization


  • Vendors are scrambling to figure out how to fit into the new model.
  • They should be looking at it as a deployment and financing option but most aren’t.
  • Requires a different business relationship: Service levels, vendor is responsible for functionality (rather than customer)
  • Easy for customers to experiment with
  • Never-ending payments
  • Security, integration concerns
  • Big plays: Team collaboration, web conferencing, eLearning

Global Class [Infrastructure]

  • Extremely loosely-coupled
  • REST/POX (Plain Old XML)
  • Assumes that security threats are everywhere
  • Does not assume any particular platform, OS, or browser
  • At the current rate of scale-out, by 2010, 30% of the world’s servers will be in the Googleplex

Open Source

  • Not just about acquisition cost. Pay attention to TCO.
  • Impact of open source is understated. (The presenter meant it was understated in the market as a whole, but I’d say it was also understated by Gartner and at this conference, specifically. Maybe they were holding out for the Gartner Open Source conference later in the week?)
  • No throat to choke (I’d say this is true only for non-commercial open source projects).
  • Study shows that if open source databases were bought like licensed software, they’d have 40% of the relational database market
  • Bottom line: What is your risk profile? (I thought this was a little much).

The Web 2.0 and Consumerization discussions were essentially repeats of prior sessions. Digital Immigrants/Digital Natives, Directors vs. Leaders, “Get a MySpace for your place”, etc., etc.

On innovation

  • Innovation occurs in the hands of the users so let the users go
  • Failure breeds success
  • “Democratizing Innovation”, by Eric Von Hippel (I found a free PDF of his book at

Why Your Intranet Should be More Like the Internet

“The workplace should work like a machine, but adapt like a marketplace.”

On “Knowledge Management”: The internet is already solving the problem of content classification/organization and expertise location. Why not use these tools internally?

According to a Gartner study, the most often deployed (> 50% of orgs) social software types are currently: Email, IM, Web Conferencing, and Team Workspace. Less often are: Wikis/Blogs, RSS, Expertise Location, Social Tags/Bookmarks. (It is interesting to note, however, that most of the conference presentations treated “Wikis/Blogs” as almost passe, saying, “Most of you are already experimenting with these technologies internally”)

Social software functionality can be grouped into technologies that help:

  • Create
  • Organize
  • Find
  • Interact

Gartner is preparing its Magic Quadrant for Social Software. No one’s in the Magic Quadrant yet. The categories of vendors will likely be:

  • Social Software Suites
  • Wiki-centric
  • Blog-centric
  • Discussion-centric
  • Specialists

Critical functionality for social software deployments in the enterprise:

  • Open (from a technical perspective and from a “who can use it” perspective) and easy-to-use
  • Expose connections through bookmarks/tags
  • Provide a bridge to email
  • Focus on people first. Identify evangelists. Appeal to self-interests
  • Provide initial structure but be flexible and don’t overdo it
  • Lead by example, reward participants with attention

Gartner Portals, Content, and Collaboration Conference: Day 2 Notes

Portals, SOA, and Mashups

Portals have worked well in some enterprises, but there are problems:

  • Heavyweight technology requires specialized skills
  • Over-engineered platforms and protocols are complex and expensive

Portals will likely be an entry point for enterprise mash-ups

Interesting tidbit: Systems reflect the structure of the organizations that build them. If you have a dysfunctional organization, it is likely your systems will be too. Building the “perfect” system doesn’t help. Over time, the system will degrade to match the structure of the organization. (Melvin Conway, 1968).

I’ve definitely seen evidence of this at clients. A really obvious example is in workflow-centric solutions. Companies rarely take the time to streamline and cleanup processes the way they need to before formalizing the processes in automated workflows (“Implementing the new system is enough change. Let’s automate the way we do it now to encourage user adoption. We’ll come back later and tweak the business processes.”). So what you end up with is a system that works exactly like the current business process, warts and all.

More info on Conway’s Law at’s_Law

Portal of the Future

More discussion about the differences between Digital Natives (the generation of workers entering the workplace today) and Digital Immigrants (the generation of workers who’ve had to adapt to digital technology). Where this relates to the “Portal of the Future” is primarily about expectations regarding how we interact with relevant data. The nature of this interaction has to be client-independent, device-independent, context-aware, and truly-mobile.


  • Portal vendors will decompose products into services
  • Portal as entry point for enterprise mash-ups
  • Portals sharing data (due to most enterprises having multiple portals deployed)

Sites to check out for good examples of alternatives models of content aggregation:

These are basically the next generation of the old “My” portals.

Portal interoperability touchpoints:

  • Portlets (Standards exist here, but not for the rest)
  • User Profiles
  • Directory
  • Security
  • Metadata

Mash-up tools/APIs:

Seven Key Strategies for Combining Portal & CM

Probably a better title for this presentation would have been, “Seven high-level ideas that are related to portals, content, and collaboration”. It didn’t really discuss the combination of the two at any level of detail.

1. Build a foundation for a high-performance workplace

  • Provide a flexible environment to support the non-routine tasks people do every day. Key technologies: Collaboration and Content Management (Basic Content Services).
  • Focus on non-routine tasks and decision-making enablement
  • Content and collaboration are “birthright” technologies for your employees

2. Use the right tool for the right task

  • The problem is that email is being used to create/share content
  • Use BCS as a way to migrate people away from email

3. Take a process view

  • If you want to really get a handle on collaboration and content you need to start by looking at the processes in which collaboration plays a part or which involve content.
  • Gartner talked about two types of content/collaboration apps using two acronyms: CEVA & WEBA. Hopefully, these new acronyms won’t out-live the conference, but just in case they do…
  • CEVA stands for Content-Enabled Verticalized Applications. This is an application that is focused on a core business process. For these apps you should be able to provide templates, workflows, and automate some or all of the business process. (A lot of the workflow apps I’ve built over the years have been CEVA’s. Who knew?)
  • WEBA stands for Workplace-Enhanced Business Applications. These are apps that our really outside of your core business process. For these you need to define policies, communicate best practices, provide support, and examples.

4. Intranet & repository consolidation

  • The path of least resistance is to freeze your legacy content and create all new content in the new repository. The legacy repositories will dry up and go away over time.
  • The other alternative is migration, which can be costly, but at least gives you the chance to clean up.
  • The route you choose is really about cost.

5. B2C web presence

  • Most enterprises will need both Portal and Content Management
  • Each has specific areas of functionality they are responsible for, but there is some overlap in the gray area between the two.
  • For some reason, the speaker went deep into eforms at this point which I found strange as the bullet is about B2C web presence. I don’t downplay eforms as important, particularly as a low-hanging fruit for most enterprises, but it seemed like a non-sequitur.

6. Customer-centric communication

  • Nothing significant to note for this one.

7. SOA framework for the assembly of services

  • Again, kind of fizzling out at this point but the speaker did point out that your metadata approach can impact your ability to provide meaningful integration between or federation of your repositories. Enterprise-wide efforts to define and update an enterprise-wide data model help but can be costly.

Usability & Productivity: Are We There Yet? (Jakob Nielsen)

This was my first time hearing Nielsen speak. I found him to be insightful, engaging, and entertaining. Catch him when you can.

Usability is not just about visual design–it must also include information architecture and interaction design. You cannot just come in after the coding is done and slap on a pretty interface.

Everyone can do (and should be doing) usability testing

  • Doesn’t require a lot of fancy equipment
    • Closed door
    • Web cam
    • Screen capture
  • Plan on roughly five users for each type of user in the system. If overlap exists across user types, you can get by with less than five.
  • Keep it simple
  • Make it iterative. Don’t make it a big production. Maybe test one user type on one iteration and another on the next.

Of award-winning intranets, the following are the usability methods employed by those teams:

  • User testing (#1 method)
  • Survey
  • Card sorting
  • User test of prototype or wireframe
  • Heuristic evaluation
  • Field studies
  • Accessibility testing

The Web 2.0 sites/technologies getting covered the most by the media are not necessarily what you should be doing in your projects

  • The ugly truth about user-contributed content: 90% of the users contribute very little, 9% contribute a moderate amount, and only 1% are the hardcore, heavy users
  • Get back to basics
  • Search
  • Task-oriented navigation
  • Learn how to write for the web
  • People scan when they read online. Writers have to adapt to that style.
  • Use HTML pages instead of PDF. PDF versions of online manuals on a corporate intranet could be costing you “hundreds of thousands of dollars” in productivity loss
  • Tiny text with low contrast is really hard for people over 45 years old to read

“Banner blindness” is a strong phenomenon

  • Showed some eye tracking test graphics in which users were not giving a single glance to any of the ads
  • Non-ad content that simply *looks* like an ad gets skipped
  • Environments where a user should know there are no ads (like an intranet) are not immune to this effect

Gartner Portals, Content, and Collaboration Conference: Day 1 Notes

Tom Austin’s keynote
This was a good opening keynote, primarily aimed at getting IT leaders to realize that their job isn’t simply to take orders but to be the key enabler of innovation in the business.

Gartner research shows that most IT shops stop at “operations & hygiene” and “improving productivity & lowering costs”. What they should be focusing on is “improving performance of non-routine tasks” and “helping the organization innovate”. The personal tools and social services the IT organization puts in place and supports will be key enablers of those goals.

Workplace architecture

In a study of around 2000 companies, Gartner found that there are “Two faces of the workplace”. Roughly half of the respondents are in an organization of “Leaders”. The other half are organizations of “Directors”. Director organizations are those in which IT is essentially an order-taker. They see their job really as being the low-cost technology provider for the business and not much more. Leader organizations are much more entrepreneurial. The IT orgs in Leader companies see themselves as key enablers to innovation. The type of organization you are in can be a predictor of the success of the introduction of social tools and technologies. (It can also be a source of stress–if you are more entrepreneurial and you find yourself in a “Director” organization, the odds are that your tenure at that job will be short-lived).

At this point the conversation shifted to some high-level info on key vendors…


  • Workplace brand is essentially dead
  • Now have 23% of the content management market through its FileNet acquisition
  • Quickr product is their answer to MOSS
  • More “2.0” than Microsoft
  • At the mention of “Notes 8” I immediately felt old


  • Web 2.0 and future strategy based on the WebCenter Suite.
  • Stellent, a second-tier player with consistently good functionality, was a good acquisition for Oracle.


  • Sharepoint 2007 is not enterprise-ready
  • Grassroots, viral spread of WSS (the free, low-end version of Sharepoint) is working extremely well

General content management tidbits

  • CM systems live b/w 5 and 10 years
  • Flexibility, openness, interoperability are key because of this longevity
  • Up-front license cost usually less than 20% of the TCO over the life of the system so don’t get so wrapped around the axle about up-front licensing costs

Clash of the Titans: IBM, Microsoft, & Google

Five technologies that are disruptive to the “titans”:

  • SAAS
  • Web 2.0
  • Consumerization
  • Global Class Infrastructure
  • Open Source


  • #1 portal
  • Huge IM install base with Sametime
  • All about custom (because it drives services, for which IBM gets over half of its revenue)
  • All about focusing on the biggest of the big customers


  • Pervasive office suite
  • Meteoric Sharepoint growth
  • All about commodity
  • Take technology to the masses, become the exclusive provider, then increase prices.
  • Web-based applications threaten Microsoft’s core model
  • “Sharepoint is the athlete’s foot of 2007. You leave it alone and it spreads everywhere.”

Say Goodbye to Enterprise Content Management

The term “Enterprise Content Management” is really shifting from an umbrella term describing the different types of content management (document management, WCM, imaging, records management, etc.) to a term that describes a management discipline.

1990 – 2006: Thick clients, closed source, monolithic platforms/repositories
2007 and beyond: Federated repositories, SOA, Web 2.0, SAAS, open source

Gartner sees most companies interested in deploying Basic Content Services (see below) and then building vertical apps on top of a more formal content infrastructure where appropriate.

Basic Content Services (BCS)

  • Good enough is good enough
  • Pays for itself quickly
  • Addresses needs of 65% of the user population
  • Everyone should be rolling this out now
  • Average spend on content management is $475,000 for 250 users

Top business problems addressed by content management:

  • Loan origination
  • Litigation support
  • Claims processing
  • Case management
  • Contract management
  • Correspondence management

Solution Provider Sessions

The “Solution Provider” sessions were extremely weak. These were essentially speaking slots the premium sponsors of the conference paid for. The first one I attended, sponsored by BEA, was ostensibly a deep dive on Facebook. After two slides on Facebook it devolved into a BEA product demo.

The second BEA solution provider session was a customer case study on how an insurance company used BEA’s Aqualogic platform to roll out custom portals for their clients. Unfortunately, there wasn’t a lot of information shared with regard to challenges overcome, what worked well, or anything specific about how the platform was uniquely qualified for the solution.

Challenges of Enterprise 2.0 Adoption, Andrew McAfee

I’ve added McAfee’s blog to my aggregator within the last few months and I’ve enjoyed his posts. I was excited to get to hear him speak. This session was definitely the highlight of the day. Here are some rough notes…

Attributes of Enterprise 2.0 use:

  • Platform technologies: Enterprise 2.0 is about platform–not channel (ie, email)–technologies like blogs and wikis.
  • Social: The solutions are primarily about getting people together (not integrating data or systems)
  • Complementary with existing structures
  • Collective (subject to network effects)
  • Convergent
  • Emergent
  • Open
  • Undirected/autonomous
  • Non-credentialist. No one cares about your title or role. What’s important is what you do/say after you’ve joined the conversation.
  • Dynamic
  • Navigable. (McAfee did a survey of the audience in which he asked how many people thought their intranet was easier to navigate than the public internet. Only one hand shot up).
  • Extensible

McAfee really stressed the point that if you try to put too many controls on these systems (too much structure, roles/entitlements, workflow) you’ll totally screw up the intended purpose and really miss out completely on the business benefit.
Ease of use is a huge problem in adoption of these systems. McAfee referenced a study in which one of his colleagues determined that people typically overweight the incumbent technology’s benefits by 3 and underweight the prospective technology’s benefits by 3. He referred to this as email’s “9x” problem. Basically, any Enterprise 2.0 solution has got to be 10x better than email.

Beyond ease of use, other adoption problems included the concept of personal benefits versus cost and incentives to participate.

McAfee referred folks to for case studies on Enterprise 2.0 use.

Enterprise 2.0 whether you want it or not

Back in September I wrote a post about open source software driving the re-birth of “Shadow IT” outfits. Here’s a post that backs me up. Dion Hinchcliffe over at ZDNet cites examples of firms where wikis are proliferating un-checked. While his post is about Enterprise 2.0 and mine was about open source software more generally, the conclusion is the same: IT departments need to move now to facilitate the adoption of these tools or they will be faced with seriously fragmented technology footprints and data silos a-plenty.