Event Report: Igloo Software ICE 2018

September 14 2018 02:00:00 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

This week in San Antonio Texas, Digital Workplace vendor Igloo Software held their annual user conference Igloo Customer Experience (ICE, Igloo... get it!) In addition to attending, I had the honour of keynoting the second day. I highlighted some of the challenges employees are struggling with today, and how bringing together content, colleagues and conversations can help employees not only get work done but be creative and feel like they have a voice in the company. My talk was designed to complement the conference theme of providing customers with a Digital Workplace, the new term being used for intranets or communities.

Here is a short video review of the news, with more details below.

There were four main items announced at ICE:

1. Igloo Marketplace , a repository of templates and integrations that expand the capabilities of Igloo.

MyPOV: This is a significant step in evolving from a product to a platform. To compete against vendors like Microsoft and Google, you need to have a vibrant business partner ecosystem and you need to have integrations with the popular 3rd enterprise business applications. In order to create a seamless experience for employees, they need to be able to access their files, HR applications, CRM records and web-conferencing tools and more... all without switching between multiple applications. A marketplace or catalogue provides a central place for people to add the tools and integrations they need to get their jobs done. 

2. "Unified Search: Through a partnership with Lucidworks, Igloo will be incorporating the latest in artificial intelligence, machine learning, and natural language processing technology to improve search speed and relevancy."

MyPOV: While this is not available yet, it is a move well aligned with the trend of using AI to help people find, filter and focus on the things they need, ideally with personalized and context-aware results. It's not just about finding the right content, it's about finding the right content at the right time in the right location.  This partnership does not seem to be inclusive, leaving the door open for Igloo to leverage with technologies for things like image search or video indexing.

3. "Worldwide Data Residency: Igloo’s growing base of multinational enterprise customers will soon be able to use Azure for local data residency options in US, Canada and Europe"

MyPOV: This is a good indicator of the growth of Igloo's customer base. Clearly they are seeing demand outside of North America, and I look forward to hearing customer reference stories that leverage these new data centre options, as well as potential announcements around additional locations.

4. "General availability of the Networked Enterprise Edition provides complex and dispersed organizations with a hub and spoke architecture for connecting business units, vendors, suppliers, partners, and customers"

MyPOV: This appears to be a very interesting feature, enabling organizations to deploy a central "hub" of information that everyone can access, then multiple "spokes" that can be tailored to specific needs. I'd like to hear more about the benefits and challenges of administration and security of this architecture. Hopefully, Igloo will share case-studies and metrics around how their large customers are using this new feature.

 

Overall Impressions

No matter what you call it; Intranet, Employee Community, or Digital Workplace, the need to have a place where employees can create, share and discover knowledge is a critical component of empowering collaboration.

Several of the attendees I spoke to over the two days are currently using Jive Software or Microsoft SharePoint and are looking for alternatives. The high level of interest in Igloo is a good sign for the company, and they should continue to capitalize on the uncertainty in some of their competition's roadmaps and vision.

Igloo has always been very strong on design, not just in looks and branding, but in user experience around creating, finding and sharing knowledge.

They are now at the stage where they need to focus on enterprise needs such as scalability, security, compliance and administration.

The announcements at ICE this week are moves in the right direction, and validate why Igloo Software is one of the vendors on the Constellation ShortList™ for Corporate Intranet Platforms.

 



Event Report: Slack Frontiers 2018

September 8 2018 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Sep 5 and 6 Slack held their user conference Frontiers in San Francisco. The flow of the keynote was very well done, with Slack executives and customers (including 21st Century Fox, WeWork and others) working together to tell a consistent story around how Slack is evolving from just group messaging (a place for people to chat) to a collaboration hub (a place that integrates together multiple applications to enable people to do work). This theme of stream or newsfeed based tools becoming a place to "get work done" fits in well with the concept of Purposeful Collaboration that I've been writing about since 2013.

Logistically Frontiers was very well done, with a combination of entertainment, education and philanthropy. They recapped product highlights of 2018 including

  • Improved search (speed as well as interface)
  • Application actions (enable posts in the stream to be interactive, not just information)
  • Shared channels (allow two companies to collaborate securely via Slack)
  • Acquisition of Missions.ai (a workflow/automation product that enables people to define trigger events and actions)
  • Atlassian partnership (the shutdown of HipChat and Stride and ideally migration to Slack)

and discussed several future features (ranging from Q42018 to "sometime in 2019")

  • Enterprise Key Management (EKM) which will allow administrators to encrypt channels
  • Improvements in administration features like device-level security, compliance and governance
  • Making the editor more usable for non-technical people - example WYSIWYG rich text editing
  • Improved initial experience for new Slack users, showing fewer features when they first start
  • A new web and desktop client that is significantly faster (ex: 1s load time vs 6s), uses less memory, and even supports offline usage
  • Network channels - the next phase of Shared Channels, enabling multiple companies instead of just two

but unfortunately, there was not a lot of "new and available now" type news.  I would have liked to have heard:

  • Updated statistics about growth. They cited the same 8M daily active users and 3M paid users numbers that they announced in May.
  • News around partners and the Slack Fund
  • Advancements in how they are using AI

 

Here is my quick video recap of Slack Frontiers 2018

 

MyPOV:

Slack certainly deserves credit for reinvigorating the enterprise collaboration market. Their rise to tech-stardom caused the traditional tech giants Microsoft, Google, Cisco and IBM to react and develop their own similar channel-based collaboration tools. But now with the market being so competitive, what comes next for Slack? I would have liked to have seen more emphasis on Slack Enterprise Grid, their platform for use at large companies.
 

As I pointed out on Twitter, I believe their future will involve more native functionality that enables them to evolve beyond just messaging to becoming more of a platform for executing core business workflows.

 

The way most people work today, struggling with information overload as they constantly switch between multiple applications is not the optimal way to work. Slack as well as several other vendors know this, and are working on ways to improve the employee experience. I've written about this future of work in what I refer to as Digital Canvases, and I look forward to seeing Slack continue to try and help employees work better together.

 



Event Report: BoxWorks 2018 the road to Cloud Content Management

August 31 2018 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

This week Box held their annual conference BoxWorks, with the 2018 theme being "The blueprint for the future of work".

In the two videos below I provide my thoughts on the key themes and product announcements.

Part 1: Three Key Themes in Box's evolution to Cloud Content Management

  • Evolution from Cloud File Storage to Cloud Content Management
  • Digital Workplace - A seamless Employee Experience for content and collaboration
  • Content Intelligence - Automating tasks and extracting insights

Part 2: News and Overall Thoughts

 

My Analysis

  • Box continues to hold their own and grow in a market could have easily been commoditized by Microsoft OneDrive and Google Drive
  • They continue to improve the user experience, solving common ECM issues like finding content
  • Until now, Box was more of a service than a destination. With Feed, Activity Stream, Recommended Apps, Automation and other features, the amount of time people spend in Box itself will increase.
  • Customers would like better clarity and a more specific roadmap around ”announced features” versus shipping.
  • Business Partners are unsure of which features will remain 3rd party add-ons and what areas Box will add with native functionality
     


Slack Raises $427M Series H funding

August 21 2018 11:00:00 AM Add/Read Comments [0]

Slack has raised another $427M bringing their total to $1.2B, yes... with a B. This is their 11th funding round. In the video below, I discuss how I expect Slack's future to involve expansion of native functionality, extending them beyond their roots of group messaging (IRC) to include more core collaboration, coordination and content creation capabilities.

 

 



Event Report: Google Next 18

July 26 2018 02:00:30 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

Some Thoughts on IBM Notes and Domino in 2018

July 23 2018 04:00:06 PM Add/Read Comments [2]

After spending time with executives from both IBM and HCL, as well as having discussions with several IBM Business Partners, here are some of my thoughts on the current state of Notes and Domino, and the opportunity available.



Report: How Digital Canvases Enable Hyper-Collaboration

May 18 2018 02:31:02 PM Add/Read Comments [2]

 

There are several challenges related to information and application overload which impede the speed of work. One of the ways to reduce these challenges is by limiting the scope of the content and conversations that are displayed, to just the items that are contextually relevant to the desired task and topic. In my new report: How Digital Canvases Enable Hyper-Collaboration, we examine how this new user-interface can speed up the way people work.