Coming on the heels of enhancements to LotusLive, Microsoft has now unveiled “Office 365“, the next generation of their former Business Productivity On-Line Services (BPOS). Microsoft’s base offering starts at $24 per user per month and includes desktop productivity, web applications, Exchange on-line, SharePoint, Lync (IM/web conferencing), and both support and management functions. Existing BPOS customers get e-mail, SharePoint, and Lync for just $10 a month. Both offerings are highly competitive with those from Google and IBM (as well as Zoho), and offer significant opportunities for companies to reduce infrastructure and upgrade costs. We find that innterest in hosted messaging services is strong, with approximately 44% of organizations evaluating or planning to adopt such services by the end of 2012, but concerns over privacy, security, availability, the need for off-line access and the ability to integrate hosted services with on-premises applications are gating factors. Evaluate all of these concerns versus the ability to reduce operating expenses.
IBM announced enhancements to LotusLive this week (see Ed Brill’s write-up for details). At just $5.00 per user with a one user minimum, IBM offers a hosted version of Domino, accessible via either web browser or Lotus Notes client, and including support for Sametime instant messaging. IBM’s offering provides an interesting alternative to gmail for those companies fearful of Google’s privacy controls, or more comfortable with an enterprise-focused product that even includes a more traditional client (with off-line replication). IBM also counters Microsoft BPOS with a more extensible platform that now features a suite of integrated third-party applications including Skype and Tungle. For another $5 per user per month, IBM adds internal web conferencing and collaboration capabilities.
We’ve continued to hear concern about IBM’s viability as an alternative to Exchange for on-premise systems, by going to the cloud IBM leverages the economics of the cloud to bolster its competitive position.
Google announced last week it would end development of Wave as a stand-alone collaboration tool. While Wave was ground-breaking in terms of delivering an ability for groups of individuals to collaborate in real time around a mix of text and rich media, governance concerns limited adoption by those who could most benefit: business users.
Google did say it would continue development of Wave, but instead seek to integrate it into its other applications. As a model for future collaboration, Wave did make a wave. But its greatest impact will be to drive co-authoring capabilities into other collaboration applications.
Microsoft last week announced a connector between Microsoft Outlook, and profile information in Facebook. The service works by matching a user’s e-mail address to their Facebook profile. So if one of your contacts in Outlook is on Facebook, you will see whatever information is publicly available from their profile within Outlook (or whatever information you can access if you are “friends”). Microsoft previously announced a similar integration between Outlook at LinkedIn.
Microsoft’s move creates new challenges for organizations trying to balance the need to embrace the world of social software with concerns over security, compliance, privacy and productivity. Our 2010 benchmark of over 200 companies shows that 40% block access to public social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but often are forced to back off blanket bans due to employee demand or business justifications to participate in public social communities. Meanwhile, only 23% have a formal social strategy.
Allowing employees to engage with public social networks can provide real benefits in terms of building personal relationships with customers, partners, and suppliers, but of course carries risk and must be implemented with respect to information protection requirements (See Socialware’s recently released Guide to Facebook Social Networking Compliance).
We continue to spend a lot of time working with our clients to try and help them balance the need for openness with the reality of governance. Enterprise managers should take efforts by Microsoft and others to poke holes in the social firewall as further justification for a proactive enterprise social strategy.
Another Enterprise 2.0 is in the books! This year’s show featured a lot more diversity in terms of content and focus, moving beyond a social networking and into areas such as video, organizational strategies, and policy/governance. But perhaps the most noteworthy aspect of the show was the evolution of collaboration beyond stand-alone platforms and into the very fabric of the organization.
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I’m attending this week’s annual SAP customer/partner conference: SAPPHIRENOW (Twitter hash-tag of the same name to follow numerous tweets). It’s the first time I’ve been here, mainly because things like ERP and BI have seemed like foreign languages to me given my background in real-time communication and collaboration, but what I’ve seen so far has been eye-opening, and exciting: the continued integration of social computing into business process management systems.