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Changing Workplace Behavior and a Focus on Intranets

January 11, 2017 Leave a comment

I enjoyed reading Paul Miller‘s article about his predictions for the Digital Workplace for 2017.  So much so, that I decided to put down some thoughts that I couldn’t get out of my mind any other way.

Paul Miller, who leads the Digital Workplace Group, has a track record of prediction about the digital workplace over the past years. His entire article is one that I would recommend, and his entire list of ten (10) predictions for 2017 is worth considering.  Perhaps I will spout off about his other predictions at a later date, but for today, I want to tackle two of them, which are front and center with many of the Office 365 customers that I work with regularly.

Paul Miller’s Prediction #2 for the Digital Workplace

2. Focus shifts from “firing up tech” to changing behaviour and culture

This is a striking change that we in the Digital Workplace Group have seen strongly in 2016. For the first time, many large enterprises are most concerned about culture and behaviour change when deploying new digital workplace services – and are viewing turning on the technology more as a “hygiene factor”, particularly as services move relentlessly to the cloud.

For one major pharma client in Germany, their new collaboration services were straightforward technically – but after evidence from their history that simply implementing new technologies doesn’t bring the much-touted benefits to employees, this time they turned to change management and culture as the levers they needed to tackle. This pattern will extend for many organizations and the so-called “soft skills” of digital workplace improvements will take centre stage.

This is absolutely true – that companies are finding it more difficult to roll out applications and technology services to their employees and expect employees to be able to leverage them easily.  The switch in focus to encourage a cultural change among employees is a change that can’t come quickly enough.

This is a representation of the move to a SaaS-based and cloud-based infrastructure. Large application systems that previously were installed using a Big-Bang installation model were replaced by agile development and continuous deployment. Enterprise IT groups that used to deliver employee facing software applications and LOB services via large concurrent deployments are discovering the benefits of continuous deployment. The next phase of realization for this is probably with employees, that will need to transform from learning new application functionality and tools every year or two into a slipstream model of discovering new functionality weekly or monthly.

A focus on modifying culture and employee behavior will have a more productive impact on employee adoption. The tools and applications will still need to be built – and as more employees adopt the new tools, deployment cycles can perhaps shorten and the feature backlog for each app may also shorten.

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I also think that Paul’s fourth (4th) prediction is worth some consideration.

4. Intranets keep getting better and stronger

Weren’t intranets supposed to have become extinct by now? Rumours of their demise have been around for 15 years or more. The reality is though that any well-functioning organization of any size still requires a robust, productive intranet, if only as a digital front door to the wider digital workplace.

Whether it is Estée Lauder or Nationwide, compelling intranets that deliver value to the workforce are essential within the context of the broader needs of digital workplaces. Upgrades, new functionality and better mobile experiences will all be part of the enhanced intranets we will see.

I also believe that the concept of Intranets is growing and deserves to be strengthened within organizations. The Employee Intranet is the heart of soul and culture for an organization. Often, as employees work in teams that are more distributed than ever, as organizations change more frequently, and as the nature of work relationships morph through time, employees will rely on the Intranet as a centering force.

It used to be that the Employee Intranet served up the published information to employees, and also provided support for work-in-process scenarios – the ad-hoc collaboration spaces for project teams and for employee workgroups. While intranets were manageable in size, this made some sense, and the cost to apply consistent branding elements across all sites was manageable.

Today, ad hoc collaboration sites find themselves being more separated from the highly structured intranet sites. Employee Intranet sites pay the cost of applying company branding to their pages, while ad hoc collaboration areas need to be spun up and down as projects are created and completed, and can’t afford to pay the “branding tax” for each instance.

I think that as the amount of separation between ad hoc collaboration areas and employee intranets continues to grow, that Intranets will gain strength and find it easier to maintain company culture and focus.

Enterprise IT Groups should consider the employee intranet as a discrete service offering from ad hoc collaboration spaces. Trying to combine them weakens the value proposition of both.

nationwideintranet

What are your predictions for Enterprise Transformation in 2017? I like Paul’s list – and will give the Digital Workplace Impact podcast a listen.

Collaboration in the Market

January 9, 2017 Leave a comment

Atlassian and Slack each are making plays in the collaboration marketplace today. Both of these moves are in response to recent advances that Microsoft has made with Office 365 and are critical to their long term future as platforms.

By acquiring Trello, Atlassian is expanding it’s collection of collaboration services and is a stronger competitor for Office 365. Atlassian is responding to Office 365 increase in customer adoption of Planner. Trello is more mature and more feature-complete than Planner at this point in time. Atlassian has the integration game to play now, to provide customers a consistent experience across the apps. To their benefit, Trello and JIRA have been used together by developers and project teams for years, and their JIRA customer base already is mostly familiar with Trello.

Microsoft, for its part with Planner, is entering with a new product, which even at MVP was rapidly adopted by Office 365 users looking to manage tasks, but still lacks many required features to be more than a task manager for small teams.

Atlassian acquires Trello for $425M, broadening their reachhttps://workfutures.io/atlassian-acquires-trello-for-425m-broadening-their-reach-36e0d102a661 ]

The second news item this morning also affects Office 365, as Slack is building out their integration with a solid investment in bot companies. This has the potential to be a good investment, as Slack is battling to find a hook into enterprise businesses. As a chat company in a crowded space, it floated to the top with great functionality, but I feel it still is sitting in a space that hasn’t fully solidified, and could be replaced by newcomers to the space, or someone that has a better integration.  With this investment in bot makers, Slack is hoping that integration with business processes can stick and become a solid connection for them to build on.

Slack invests in 11 new bot startups
http://www.businessinsider.com/slack-invests-in-11-new-bot-startups-2017-1 ]

Both of these are examples of products that are building themselves into a platform. Becoming a platform that is extensible enough for ISVs to build on top of is the key for their long term growth. If their partner ecosystems simply invest in connecting to JIRA and Slack, and don’t take the next step of building into the platforms or building on top of them, then they will get steamrolled in enterprise companies by the platform that is surrounding and embedding the collaborative applications in Office 365.

 

 

Categories: Uncategorized

Metalogix Gobbles up Pieces of Axceler

August 28, 2013 4 comments

Interesting news this morning.  Metalogix gobbled up the SharePoint products and offerings from Axceler.  Rumors have been flying for months about an acquisition between the two parties, and both directions were mentioned – either Axceler doing the acquiring or Metalogix doing the acquiring.  In the end, though, it didn’t come out either way – Metalogix only acquired a portion of Axceler’s business.  

Image  The SharePoint products from Axceler have driven Axceler to be one of the fastest growing ISVs in the SharePoint ecosystem.  A darling of growth, and of product innovation, the Axceler ControlPoint products have illustrated that there is potential within the SharePoint ecosystem for Management, Administration, and Governance tools.

At least, there used to be lots of potential in the SharePoint ecosystem in the Management and Administration spaces. While I think there remains lots of potential in the governance space, I think it’s fair to say that with the shift to Office 365, the room for growth in the SharePoint Management and Administration space feels like there is a cap on it.  We don’t know exactly where that cap is, but there is no doubt that the open range for Administration and Management of SharePoint On-Premise is now a fenced in corral, and the ability to run free is limited.

In the short term, this will put Metalogix in a very powerful position for SharePoint On-Premise solutions.  Every SharePoint On-Premise solution will either be in the AvePoint camp, the Dell camp, the MetaVis camp, or the Metalogix camp.  Metalogix does have a very compelling set of offerings.  This is a very busy space for SharePoint users to wade through, and the removal of one of the players (Axceler), simplifies the space a little bit, but it is still confusing when there are 4 strong providers to consider and many little providers.  

Do you think that Axceler realized that 1. the space was very crowded, and 2. the Office 365 future was limited?  I think that the leadership of Axceler realized this and pulled off an amazing feat in this divestiture of their SharePoint business to Metalogix.  I think that Metalogix is being driven somewhat by optics and not by the realities of the SharePoint ecosystem in this case.  I hope that the price that Metalogix paid takes into account that the market for SharePoint On-Premise in 3 more years will only be the largest SharePoint customers, and that their Long Tail market of small and medium SharePoint customers will be dried up.

I found myself joking with some colleagues that while we used to refer to Open Text as the CA (Computer Associates) of the Document Management world, it now appears that one could consider Metalogix as the CA of the SharePoint world.  CA, in this case, as a euphemism for the place where software companies go into eternal maintenance mode…  I wonder how true this might turn out to be.

In the meantime, congratulations, Axceler, and we will be watching with interest to see how Metalogix takes advantage of this bundle of riches that their combined offering now provides. Can Metalogix turn this into a productive acquisition and gain significant market share against the other SharePoint management and administration tools?

SharePint at WPC12

June 27, 2012 1 comment

One of my favorite weeks of the year is coming up – the Microsoft WorldWide Partner Conference.  One of the best meet-ups of the week has always been the SharePint event.  This year should be no exception.

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This year, the Microsoft SharePoint Marketing Group has worked with Pingar and 3 other software companies, Axceler, Rackspace, and Idera, to host a meet-up for partners that work within the SharePoint ecosystem during the week of WPC12.

You know what they say…  SharePoint by Day, SharePINT by Night!

This year SharePint will be on Tuesday, July 10, from 6-8PM at the Madison Avenue Pub, in Toronto.

WPC is a huge event, and while there are some important sessions for SharePoint partners, the real significant effort at WPC should be about meeting with other partners and working to grow your company’s network and connections.  I think this is why the WPC Connect portion of WPC has grown to be (at certain times of the week) the busiest part of the conference.  While it can be hard to find open time to meet with specific partners, at least SharePoint partners understand where they can meet their SharePoint peers and enjoy some good conversation.

If you haven’t already registered for WPC12, please do so at http://digitalwpc.com.

I’ll be meeting with partners at WPC Connect, attending a couple of the sessions, and hoping to meet everyone at SharePint!  If I haven’t already reached out to meet you, please reach out to me and let’s meet at WPC12!

I’m certainly looking forward to an amazing week in Toronto.

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February 8, 2012 Leave a comment

This is too important of a list of PR principles to not make a note of. I’m placing a copy on my blog so I’ll have it when I need it. I’m sure that I’ll need it someday. Just because I’ve lived a perfect life so far (Ha! Ha!) doesn’t mean a crisis isn’t around the corner. Thanks, @ericatoelle, for the hat tip to this article.

Just Alyssa

I miss PR. I was good at it. Hell, there was a time when both Fast Company and PR News declared me one of the best. Not because I liked working a billion hours a week, which is what it would have taken to rise to the top of my profession, but because I have some weird instinctual ability to know how people want a story told to them. I particularly love Crisis PR. That’s some fun stuff. It’s the greatest challenge, but can also have the greatest rewards. In the short-attention-span, high-adrenaline way that I like to live, that’s the juice.

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Categories: Uncategorized

Are you Wondering? Or Are you Wandering?

July 20, 2011 Leave a comment

I had an interesting conversation the other day with a colleague, – a colleague who is from a Central European country. I’m not sure which one, exactly, but we were speaking about some new business ideas for SharePoint Directions, and she asked me if I was still wondering what to do.  The thing is, though, that due to her accent, I wasn’t sure if she used the word “Wondering”, or the word “Wandering”.  Even to hear her say the two words separately a few minutes later, my untrained and Western USA-educated ears had a difficult time trying to tell the difference  What a difference one letter makes.

It started me thinking, though, about my journey with SharePoint Directions.  – or in a bigger sense, with our journey in life.

Wondering

To wonder is to envision, to question your direction, to question your efforts, your capabilities and your talents. To wonder is also to read, to study, to pray, to ask, to listen, to watch, to reason, to make plans. We must wonder before we can grow. Are we too busy to find time to wonder? Do we make the time to wonder regularly? Do you wonder how good you can be? Wonder regularly and wonder often. It’s good for you.

Wandering

Wandering is the activity component to Wondering. Where To Wonder is to work from your chair, To Wander is management by walking around. Wandering is experimentation. Wandering is experiential. To wander is to try out your ideas, to practice that speech, to give that interview, to spend that extra hour with the client. To wander is to move into different circles and to expand into unknown areas that might be new and strange – until one wanders into them.
To wander is to act on your ideas, and to put your plan into practice.

I started asking myself if the time that I was spending on different tasks was time spent wondering or time spent wandering. It became easier and easier to make that judgment about what I was spending my time on.  I did find, interestingly enough, that I was spending too much time wondering, and not enough time wandering.  I don’t really know why it surprised me, or why I was a little saddened to realize that I hadn’t been wandering as much as I could have been.

I was struck by the simplicity of the concept between wondering and wandering.  I was struck by how much time one could spend wondering, without reaching conclusions.  It is only when wondering is followed by wandering that great achievements are made. And it is only when wandering is preceeded by wondering that people achieve at close to their capacity.

So, I will be trying to wander a bit more often. I will still be wondering – there is too much to learn.  I wonder if this bit of inspiration is only for me, or if it also applies to others.  I think that it might apply to others, but in this case, it only applies to me.

All because of one little letter.  Are you Wondering? Or Are you Wandering?

I think that you are seeing right now why my blog is still being published under the http://owen-allen.com domain, and not under www.SharePointDirections.com.  One of these days I’ll get around to putting the SharePoint Directions blog on-line, and that will be a work-only blog.  But for now, you get work mixed in with personal reflections…

Categories: Uncategorized

SharePoint in the Cloud roundtable

July 18, 2011 1 comment

Link to the Roundtable event page

I’m participating in a SharePoint in the Cloud roundtable event (#FocusRT21) later this week (Thursday, July 21, 11AM PT), that should be very informative.  There are some great experts on the roundtable, which will be available for the public to call into.  I do hope that you can join us.

SharePoint is having an impact in every direction where it stretches its legs.  Moving into the cloud is no different.  SharePoint has supported external applications for a few years now, with extensive Web service support.  With SharePoint 2010, SharePoint exposed native object models for .Net, JavaScript, and Silverlight, all designed to encourage more sophisticated remote clients for SharePoint – so that information and process stored in SharePoint could be leveraged in a distributed architecture.

SharePoint 2010 also introduced a service application infrastructure that enabled service applications to be subscribed to by different SharePoint farms, enabling different farms to stay in synch by accessing centralized resources.  This can be useful in a cloud environment – think of SharePoint farms at different plant facilities that are all leveraging a centralized product catalog, or business services.  SharePoint can be a client, in this way, as well as a server.  All that we have to do is to think about designing SharePoint applications from a broader perspective.

Office 365 is another example of SharePoint in the Cloud.  In this regard, Microsoft is offering SharePoint as a Service.  This is a little bit different than we have traditionally thought of SharePoint farms.  Office 365 will bring the collaboration and information sharing attributes of SharePoint to the world, but it won’t bring the application platform characteristics to the environment.  This will force SharePoint application developers to move to alternative ways of delivering their functionality.  It will be interesting to see if Microsoft decides that they do want to offer platform capabilities on Office 365 or if they will be satisfied simply adding functionality to their “SharePoint as a Service” offering.

Richard Harbridge (@rharbridge) has collected a good group of experts for the roundtable. I hope that you can join us on Thursday!

Link to the Roundtable event page

Categories: Uncategorized
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