There are a few vendor events that stood out in my mind for 2009 (related to Enterprise 2.0 and social software) - in no particular order:
Cisco Stumbles Early But Regains Composure & Sets The Stage
Back in July, I published a post Cisco: Great Expectations But "Where's The (Collaboration) Beef"? that took Cisco to task regarding how strongly it was "talking about" collaboration but was not really "doing" much about collaboration. However, by the end of the year, things become much more clear as I outlined in several posts:
The good news is that Cisco delivered its opening ante and salvo (hosted/SaaS e-mail) as it more proactively enters the collaboration market. In 2010, expectations will continue to rise that Cisco will have a decent critical mass of large enterprise accounts before we go too far with putting them on par with traditional collaboration heavyweights IBM and Microsoft. Cisco needs to develop an Enterprise 2.0 message and also come up with a plan to reach some level of solution/functional parity between its on-premises and SaaS-based collaboration solutions. I would like to see Cisco also have a more holistic message regarding collaboration/Enterprise 2.0 and its social media efforts. Finally - Cisco should strongly step up as a Google Wave platform - it should not let Google's XMPP efforts erode position as thought leaders when it comes to XMPP (via the Jabber deal).
On the UC front - Cisco's decision to anchor presence on XMPP should cause many IT architects to take notice. Right now, presence tags along with IM, telephony, etc. Cisco has transitioned presence into a model that not only supports XMPP and SIP/SIMPLE but has service oriented and REST interfaces. If Cisco can take steps to build a story around presence, location, and micro-blogging/activity streams - that could be a top story for 2010. Right now - Cisco should hammer Microsoft and IBM for their lack of broad XMPP support (gateways are just expected nowadays).
Microsoft Bets Its Social Fortune On SP2010
The SharePoint 2009 conference in Vegas provided the industry with the first look at SP2010 and its new/enhanced social computing capabilities. With an expected May 2010 release (my best guess), Microsoft has delivered enough "good enough" enhancements that will satisfy a large majority of enterprises committed to SharePoint overall. There is little in the upcoming release that is truly innovative or moves SharePoint out in front of other vendors offering capabilities associated with E2.0 but it is largely adequate. It provides IT organizations with enough ammunition to make a strong case against platforms that add too much infrastructure complexity/overlap.
That said, there is nothing in the release that I think will satisfy external needs (e.g., social media, external communities, certain extranet applications). For those organizations that have a strong business case that is best satisfied by a strong solution for internal communities and social networking - then over vendors are still very credible and viable as alternatives. This release is Microsoft's first serious attempt to support online communities. Some related posts where I commented on the good/bad that I heard in Vegas:
Overall, I don't see SP2010 eliminating the need for strategists in committed "SharePoint shops" to look at Jive, Telligent, NewsGator, or Lotus Connections given the right circumstances. There are situational needs that can still be best satisfied by competing platform and/or best-of-breed vendors. There also remains a lack of parity between on-premises and hosted versions of SharePoint so organizations strongly pursing a SaaS/Cloud strategy might have reason to pause re: SP2010 and social computing. However, in general, vendors will have to integrate with SharePoint 2010 at some level (e.g., ECM).
Oracle Comes And Goes (Again) - Stay Tuned For 2010 (Like You Did For 2009)
In May, Oracle seemed to renew its commitment to collaboration as I noted in this post Oracle Beehive 1.5: Still A Work-In-Progress. So I was optimistic that at the OpenWorld event the industry would see a more cohesive and aggressive collaboration strategy. But the event revealed a trail of missed opportunities as I noted in these posts:
Clearly, Oracle has all the necessary technology assets to become a player in the collaboration market, taking on IBM and Microsoft. However, the go-to-market message remains a bit murky with overlapping sub-brands (WebCenter, Beehive) and messages (collaboration and E2.0). I also believe that Oracle seriously wants to have a stronger footprint in the collaboration market - leaving that space open to other competitors will leave its application business vulnerable to developers building collaborative applications in SharePoint for instance (especially given SP2010 improvements). Oracle remains a contender but really needs to streamline its message, product portfolio and most of all, execute well.
- IBM: IBM delivered Lotus Connections 2.5. Now that Microsoft has made SP2010 public I think the expectation bar will be set pretty high for Lotusphere. IBM squandered (my opinion) the time between MOSS 2007 and SP2010 to do the type of broad and deep integration with SharePoint that would have given it a beach head to compete when SP2010 does come out. As it stands, I think we're seeing a play to the Lotus and WebSphere install base - for the most part - there are examples of Connections in "SharePoint shops" - but we'll see if that type of situation remains by late 2011. Shops that are committed to both SharePoint and WebSphere have an "embarrassment of riches" I suppose when it comes to social computing but the duality also creates a very interesting debate on which way to go over time. Overall - Lotus Connections continued to mature in 2009. It remains a platform that Microsoft will be measured against.
- Jive: Jive Social Business Software (SBS) 4.0: While there were a number of incremental improvements the addition of application modules on top of the platform (e.g., Market Engagement, Bridging) stood out most. For Jive to stay above the infrastructure debate (e.g., Microsoft, IBM), they need to continue focusing on application solutions - especially those that connect external and internal constituencies. The idea of a platform that straddles internal/external environments to connect employees, partners, suppliers, customers gives Jive a unique edge. Although the differentiation is not unique, Telligent could duplicate this story as well.
- Google and Novell: Google gained a tremendous amount of media attention with its Wave announcement. I think the company deserves credit for pulling together a lot of various ideas over the years into a single concept and adding a unique angle to the technology (XMPP). However, it remains a "concept car" for me. What was intriguing was how Wave might be taken in unforeseen directions by the community and other vendors. For instance, talk about the past and future coming together. Novell surprised many people, including myself, with its Pulse solution that works with Google Wave. I believe that's how Google Wave will get into the enterprise - not so much by what Google does directly but how the community around Google Wave and more specifically, how the ecosystem of enterprise software vendors embed Google Wave and slipstream it into the Enterprise.
- Salesforce: Salesforce Chatter: Perhaps the most over-hyped media event in 2009 (my opinion). While interesting, the lack of details left me unimpressed so I suppose that by not jumping into the media-created "mosh pit" touting Chatter, I am in the minority here. I do recognize the trend of adding social context to applications - not unexpected for those studying market trends in this area - but I just prefer news that is real news vs. promises of something delivered sometime in 2010.
- Yammer / Socialcast / Socialtext: Micro-blogging becomes hot - then becomes a feature. Yammer and Socialcast helped make "Enterprise Twitter" a reality but then vendors like Socialtext made it a feature in a platform (as have other vendors). As it stands, micro-blogging (or social messaging as I call it), is a topic that clients are still interested in but not so much as a standalone tool. Socialtext might have been the first to convert the capability into more of a platform play - but now most everyone else is doing the same - and including activity streams as well.
- Open Source: Although Mindtouch does not come up often in my client inquiries - the company has been hard at work blending an open source model with SaaS. Architecturally strong, hopefully this solution will also get more notice in 2010. Liferay got a boost in my mind with all the Cisco news (there is a bit of Liferay DNA within Cisco's collaboration platform). Drupal and Elgg came up more often in my calls this year but nothing overwhelming. I am still hopeful that Apache SocialSite gains more notice in the media and traction in the developer community - Apache Social Site builds on OpenSocial and Shindig but does not seem to get noticed. Apache Abdera (Atom/AtomPub) also seems to have dropped off the news front. Hopefully that project will become more visible as well in 2010.