Atlassian Acquires Trello

January 11 2017 03:46:18 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

As organizations become "more social" and employees create and share information more openly, it's easy for people to get overwhelmed not only with the amount of information, but also the number of sources. To help alleviate some of this chaos, many organizations are using Social Task Management tools which help people organize tasks around projects and events. Recognizing this trend, Atlassian announced on Monday that they are acquiring Trello, a Social Task Management tool currently used by 19M people, for $425M. Both companies blogged about the new on their respective sites: Trello and Atlassian.

I first wrote about this market in 2012 in the Constellation Research report: Getting Work Done With Social Task Management. More recently we've published two Constellation ShortLists™  Social Task Management: Enterprise Suites With Project Features and Social Task Management: Stand-alone vendors that highlight the key vendors in this space.

Atlassian is not the first collaboration vendor to add Social Task Management to their portfolio via acquisition, as Jive Software acquired Producteev in November 2012, and Microsoft aquired Wunderlist in June 2015. Microsoft also developed their a new application called Planner, which they released in June 2016.

I shared my initial thoughts on the acquisition in this video on Twitter:

Dr Natalie Petouhoff looks at the some of the business aspects of the deal in her blog post: Atlassian Acquires Trello for $425M: Will It Remain Free?

So what does this mean for your company?  

Chris Kanaracus and I discuss this in the CRInsights article: Atlassian Buys Trello for Collaboration Tools: What It Means

"As organizations try and shift some of their communication away from email to more social tools, they can quickly find that information overload increases rather than improves," he says. "The abundance of information shared in social networks and chat clients can be overwhelming. Social task management tools can help reduce some of the strain, by providing structure to the content, enabling people to organize, prioritize and act on tasks in a more manageable and repeatable way.  Constellation recommends organizations invest in collaboration platforms that either have native task management capabilities, or support very seamless integration with dedicated task management tools."

Are you using a Social Task Management tool to help you get your work done? If so, which one and how do you like it? If not, let us know how we can help you with your vendor selection process.


News Articles About the Acquisition


New Report: Why Artificial Intelligence Will Power the Future of Work

January 3 2017 12:43:44 PM Add/Read Comments [1]

During the Fall of 2014 at Salesforce’s annual conference Dreamforce, I gave a presentation titled “From Clippy to JARVIS" where I explained how the next generation of software was going to assist people in getting their work done. Back then, terms like Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning had not reached the massive level of hype that they are currently experiencing today. Instead, my presentation discussed topics like task automation, extracting insights, and providing recommendations. Since that presentation over two years ago, I’ve worked with dozens of enterprise software vendors, innovative new startups, and customers of Constellation on how AI can help their employees get work done. That work formed the foundation for my newest report, Why Artificial Intelligence Will Power the Future of Work.

This new report is intended for C-suite executives and Line of Business managers who want to understand why there is so much talk about AI these days, how it’s important to their businesses, the use-cases and benefits it can provide, and also prepare them for the challenges that the future of AI-enhanced software must overcome.

Below is a glance at what is contained in the report.

Table of Contents

  • Executive Summary
  • Artificial Intelligence Delivers a Game Changer to the Future of Work
  • AI-Enhanced Software Learns while Traditional Software Is Static
  • How Does a Machine Learn?
  • AI Requires Five Core Components for Success
  • AI Will Augment Humanity over Time
  • Expect AI to Rapidly Show Up in Applications
  • Where AI Helps People Get Work Done
  • AI Must Overcome Six Human Challenges
  • Recommendations
  • The Bottom Line

Executive Summary
Artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as one of the most important trends affecting the future of work.  While the study of AI has been around for decades, advancements in computing power and access to huge data sets now bring AI capabilities closer to reality. Enterprise software vendors are working on new versions of their applications that use AI to help employees be more productive. For instance, these AI-enhanced programs can help bring to light important information, assist in expense reporting, automate content creation, and help connect the right people at the right time. This report serves as a Beginners Guide to AI, explaining some basic concepts and then providing examples of how AI-enhanced software can help employees get work done and augment humanity. Finally, Constellation provides recommendations on how organizations should prepare for artificial intelligence’s role in the future of work.

Constellation Research customers can purchase the full report, Why Artificial Intelligence Will Power the Future of Workby clicking here.   

Lotus Notes Billion Dollar Potential

December 8 2016 04:05:55 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

Mitch Kapor provides a look behind the curtain and shares a very neat moment in the history of Lotus Notes, one of the most important products in the history of team collaboration software.

Adobe Acrobat Joins the Market of Mobile Scanning Tools

November 17 2016 04:30:37 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

We’ve been talking about living in a digital world for decades, but most of us are still surrounded by paper, business cards, stick notes, todo lists, whiteboards, photos, magazines and other physical forms of content. To help reduce that clutter by transforming content into secure, searchable and signable PDF documents, Adobe has updated their Acrobat Reader mobile application to now include scanning functionality.

Adobe Acrobat mobile scanning a document via tablet


Adding scanning capabilities to Acrobat Reader makes a lot of sense. PDF is already one of the most used file formats, and Acrobat Reader in installed on hundreds of millions of mobile devices, so it’s a natural fit to empower people to easily create PDF via their phone/tablet's camera. There are some very useful features such as reordering pages, rotating and annotating with notes, highlighters, pens and text, and adding your signature... all of which is free. In the future more advanced functionality will be available such as OCR for searching, but this will most likely require an upgrade to full Adobe Document Cloud capabilities. This strategy means Adobe Acrobat Reader’s new scanning features could help increase interest in the full Document Cloud service.

Adobe faces a great deal of competition in the portable scanning market, from products like Box Capture, Dropbox Scan, Evernote Scanable, Microsoft OfficeLens, Google Drive Scan and the new Google PhotoScan. This blog post is not intended to provide a full competitive review of each product, but I can say while the core capabilities in each are similar and useful in many common use-cases, they do vary in areas such as parallax correction (for documents, whiteboards, large screens, etc), OCR and search, digital signatures, annotations and markup, business card scanning, export options, document assembly and organization, sharing, and more. Customers should choose the tool that fits best into their existing environment and workflows, making mobile scanning as seamless to their employees as possible.


Introducing IBM Watson Workspace

October 26 2016 12:57:13 PM Add/Read Comments [1]

Today at IBM World of Watson, IBM announced the preview release (i.e. pre-beta) of Watson Workspace.
IBM Watson Workspace logo

This is an IBM collaboration tool that allows people to create shared spaces where they can post questions, share ideas, collaborate on projects, etc. Essentially it’s a group messaging client, but with a twist… it’s being built from the ground up to leverage the cognitive computing capabilities of IBM Watson.

What does that mean? Well IBM’s goal is to provide a client that helps eliminate the information overload often associated with today’s collaboration tools. Today employees hold conversations in chat clients, assign tasks in project management tools, manage customer records in CRM systems, share files in another tool, etc. Watson Workspace enables people to integrate multiple tools into a single stream, creating a more seamless experience versus jumping back and forth between multiple tools. 

IBM Watson Workspace with Redbooth Task Integration

But bringing multiple applications into a single stream is not what makes Watson Workspace unique. There are several group messaging clients like Slack, Glip, Cisco Spark and Office 365 Groups that already do this. Watson Workspace’s (current) differentiator is a new feature called Moments. Workspace Moments leverages the IBM Watson cognitive APIs to create a summary of the posts taking place in a Space. It groups together posts making it easier for people to digest the vast amounts of information being shared. Moments even labels the items in the summary as questions, actions or decisions to provide context around why these posts are the ones you should pay attention to. 


Watson Workspaces is in the early days. It’s not even a beta, it’s a preview. But that’s great. One of the main things I’ve criticized IBM about over the years is how slow they have been to move from slideware to software. IBM has been talking about adding cognitive capabilities to collaboration tools for years, and they are finally starting to deliver. It’s early, but they are already learning things from Workspace that will help with future versions of IBM Verse and IBM Connections. For example, the image below shows a concept for email that applies similar “action, question, decision” labels inside the body of the message making it easy to quickly scan and get the gist of what you need to know/do. 

By making IBM Watson Workspace available now, it gives IBM three months to gather feedback and improve before IBM Connect in Feb 2017.

Finally, I think it’s important to notice the name: IBM Watson Workspace. Watson is one of the main strengths of IBM these days. However, most people associate Watson as “that computer that played Jeopardy”. Those a bit more in the know think of Watson as “that computer that’s helping doctors fight cancer.” What’s missing is general knowledge of Watson similar to Apple Siri. Now IBM is offering a product with the Watson name that could potentially be used by millions of knowledge workers around the globe.

So go sign up for IBM Watson Workspace and feel free to invite me into a space. The mobile clients for iOS and Android are availble, but are currently lacking the Moments feature.




Salesforce Dreamforce 2016 Recap: Have They Hit the Suite Spot?

October 22 2016 01:00:00 PM Add/Read Comments [0]

Each year at Salesforce’s annual Dreamforce conference there is a central theme, this year it was clearly Artificial Intelligence, or AI. More specifically, it was the introduction of Salesforce’s new AI platform named Einstein, which adds intelligence to Salesforce’s core applications for Sales, Marketing, Customer Service, etc. However, in this blog post I’m not actually going to focus on Einstein, but rather on something more subtle that I’ve been observing about Salesforce for a little while now.

Even though the addition of AI was front and centre in almost every keynote and session, my main take away from Dreamforce is that they are now focusing less on the various systems of record themselves (example, the accounts, leads, support tickets, marketing campaigns, etc.) and more on the ways people can interact with them. In my opinion, Salesforce’s ability to surface those records within conversations, emails, calendar events and documents is one of their greatest strengths.

I’ve created the following image to explain what I mean.  

At the bottom of the image are three of Salesforce’s main products, Sales Cloud (CRM), Service Cloud (customer support) and Marketing Cloud (campaign automation). These are the applications where Salesforce customers create the systems of record that contain vital business information and processes.

At the top of the image are the ways Salesforce now enables people to interact with those records outside of the applications themselves:
- Community Cloud, which includes Salesforce Chatter (enterprise social networking), Files, and Communities
- SalesforceIQ, an email and calendar client (based on the acquisitions of RelateIQ and Tempo.AI)
- Quip, documents and spreadsheets

On the right there are examples how Salesforce is working with other software vendors such as Cisco and Slack to extend the reach of Salesforce data into other applications.

The the centre of the image you can see how Salesforce Einstein provides a layer of intelligence between the systems of record and the ways people interact with them.  For example,
- Community Cloud leverages Einstein to find answers to the questions people are posting communities
- SalesforceIQ (which was created via the acquisitions of Tempo.AI and RelateIQ) leverages Einstein to help people connect emails and calendar entries to the CRM and Service records of the people they contain

Quip - The Secret Weapon?

While Quip was only recently acquired, the teams have been quickly developing integrations. In the image below you can see that Salesforce records can be inserted as linkd into Quip documents, and values from CRM records can be inserted into cells in a spreadsheet.  

In my opinion, Quip is one of the most important acquisitions Salesforce has made. Today you can have conversations around a record via Chatter, and you can attach relevant files (say a sales presentation or product catalog) to a record. But imagine in the future if every Salesforce record has a “living document” as part of it, enabling people to collaboratively take notes, brainstorm ideas, generated reports, track tasks and more. Quip could be one of the most important pieces to a larger puzzle Salesforce has been working on.

Is Salesforce, the next enterprise productivity suite?

If you think back to just a few years ago, Salesforce was a product mainly used by a company’s sales reps. To expand their audience (and revenue) Salesforce added applications for other parts of the company such as customer support and marketing. Now, as the image above shows, they have provided several ways to create, share and discuss those records with colleagues, prospects and customers.
While Salesforce is not quite ready to compete with Microsoft (Office 365) and Google (G Suite) yet, they have assembled (via build, buy and partner) many of the components employees use to get their jobs done. Employee can use SalesforceIQ to access their email and calendar, Chatter for social networking and files, and now Quip to create and share documents and spreadsheets. Add Salesforce records to those applications, and sprinkle in some intelligence powered by Einstein and you can start to picture an environment where employees all across the company spend a great deal of their work day inside Salesforce products. Maybe it’s time for a name change from Salesforce to Workforce?


Introducing Workplace by Facebook

October 10 2016 01:40:08 PM Add/Read Comments [1]

Today Facebook officially launched Workplace by Facebook, their enterprise version of the Facebook social network. 

Workplace, formerly named Facebook at Work has been in private beta for over a year and is being used in over 1000 companies, dozens of which have more than 10,000 people using it. Current customers include Coldwell Banker, Club Med, Heineken, Royal Bank and Scotland, Canadian Tire and Telenor. Workplace is now available for any organization to signup. 

Workplace resembles the consumer version of Facebook, with a central newsfeed of posts, groups for specific topics, and a messenger client named Work Chat that provides group chat and 1:1 video. Some of the key Workplace features include events, polls and live streaming which allows organizations to broadcast content to employees in real time. 

It should be noted, Workplace was the name IBM gave to their next generation messaging platform in 2003, but was discontinued in 2007.

As outlined in my research report, “Can Facebook at Work Bring Collaboration to the Business World”, one of the greatest strengths of Workplace is that most employees will immediately be familiar with how to use it. The real test comes in how seamlessly integrated Workplace can become with the business workflows that employees use to get their jobs done.

At the time of launch, Workplace does not have integrations with popular enterprise software such as Office 365, Salesforce, Workday, ZenDesk, etc. Instead, Facebook has focused their initial development efforts on the security and administration aspects of Workplace. For example, customers will be able to use single-signon via providers like Microsoft Azure AD, PingIdentity, Okta and OneLogin. While SSO is critical for getting started and gaining adoption, Constellation Research recommends that Facebook quickly develop business software integrations or partner with companies that can provide this functionality.

Workplace does allow for multi-company groups which contain people from other organizations. This is extremely important for many collaborative use-cases, but the caveat (at this time) is that each organization must be using Workplace, there is currently no guest access. 

Rather than using the common “price per user/per month” licensing model, Facebook is doing something very customer friendly and only charging for what is used. Pricing is:
$3USD for each 1-1000 monthly users
$2USD for each 1001 - 10000 monthly users
$1USD for each 10,001+ monthly users

Can Workplace Compete With A Suite?

The main collaboration battle over the last few decades has been fought by Microsoft, Google and IBM. The core of these vendors' offerings is the combination of email/calendar + content creation (documents, slides, spreadsheets) + unified communication (chat, web-conferencing). Along the way vendors offering niche services such as file sharing (Box, DropBox, Egnyte, etc), task management (Asana, Clarizen, Trello, Workfront, etc) and group chat (Slack, Glip, HipChat, Ryver, etc) have each claimed their own spot in the market, but always as a layer in addition to the Microsoft, Google or IBM stacks. 

Workplace by Facebook is not a complete collaboration suite. Since it does not provide its own email, task management, file-sharing or content creation tools, customers will still have to purchase those other products. So can Workplace succeed as a Corporate Social Intranet or Enterprise Social Network? Options such as Yammer, Jive, SocialCast, Thoughtfarmer, and Igloo have been around for years, yet none have dominated the market the way suites like Microsoft’s Office 365, Google's GSuite (formerly Google Apps for Work) and IBM Connections have. Also vendors like Salesforce, Workday, SAP, Oracle, Cisco and Infor have all added communication and collaboration features into their platforms.

In order for Workplace by Facebook to really become a critical business tool, they will need to provide deep integration with email, file-sharing, task management, and as mentioned above business process software such as CRM, ERP, HR, financial, etc. or else they risk the same fate as many social business software platforms that came before them.

So can Workplace provide enough value on it’s own to warrant being an additional tool for employees to use? If early customer interest is any indication, it would appear it can. Leveraging Facebook’s name recognition, Workplace has a big opportunity to become a leader in enterprise social software. Look at the level of attention newcomer Slack has obtained, and that was starting from ground zero. Slack claims to have 3M active daily users, it will be interesting to see how many Facebook cites in 6, 12, 24 months.

The strengths of Facebook’s name recognition and massive business partner ecosystem are certainly assets that can help their road to success. Constellation Research has already received a great deal of customer interest in Workplace (when it was Facebook for Work) and expect interest to increase with today’s official release.