Archive for May, 2011
by Bill Ives
There has been a lot of discussion about how the cloud can make CIOs and their organizations more strategic (see for example, Can Cloud Computing Make IT More Strategic?). Mendix is focused on supporting this strategic capability by facilitating the agile development of business apps. Mendix is an agile application lifecycle management company. They provide a platform that enables business and IT to work together more easily to create and host business applications. I recently spoke with Paul Campaniello to find out more about what they are doing
Paul shared one comparison between traditional development and Mendix enabled development that best summarizes what this capability can bring. A team used a traditional Java based approach to build an application and it took 670 person days and less than 20 % of the time was spent on analysis and modeling, the part where business plays the largest role. The team using Mendix spent 171 person days and over 50% of the time was spent on analysis and modeling. This is because once the application is designed, the rest is automated by Mendix and the iterative improvements also happen quickly further reducing total development time.
Mendix has provided a platform to facilitate the development process and achieve this type of result. There are three components. sprintr™ is a collaborative project management service that supports agile project teams in managing the complete Application Lifecycle. The Mendix AppFactory™has two components within it. The Business Modeler is an application development suite that allow for visual modeling of application requirements and workflow. The AppStore is a community-driven & open source market place for best-practice apps & templates. Finally, the Enterprise Cloud Dashboard™ deploys applications into the cloud with a single click and uses the dashboard to monitor all apps and centrally manage IT governance, performance and usage.
These three components work together in a closed loop development cycle. First, user stories and requirements are captured in sprintr. Below you can see a sample sptintr screen looking at story collection.
Here is a spintr screen that shows the activity stream.
Then the designed apps are quickly turned into apps in the App Factory. Below you can see a design in progress.
Next, the apps are put into the cloud with a single click in the Enterprise Cloud Portal. Now users can provide feedback through a set of feedback tools and the cycle can be quickly repeated in an iterative process until the apps meet requirements and the users as happy. This entire process is managed through the Enterprise Cloud Dashboard. They have also moved parts of this process to mobile devices. Below you can see a sample dashboard screen.
I like what they are doing. I have seen app development take months and years using the old methods. Agile development has been around for a while and has already proven its value. Here is a nice platform to accelerate this value and allow IT to work closer with the business units so both can be more strategic.
by Bill Ives
SpringCM Cloud provides an enterprise content management platform. It was founded in 2005 by some industry veterans who wanted to go beyond traditional on-premise content management. They have done this and more as I learned when I recently spoke with CEO Christopher Junker and Vice President, Product Management Dan Dosen about their new capabilities.
The cloud is transforming many software apps. First, of all it eliminates the need for end users to deal with software. You just use it. This makes ii way faster and cheaper to get started. If the software is intuitive then you can also bypass IT. This possibility were brought to the attention of the business user through the consumer apps they have grown accustomed to. Christopher referred to this as the consumerization of IT and it has far reaching effects.
SpringCM is built to take advantage of all of these transformative capabilities within cloud applications. It is designed so the average business user can create process aligned content management use cases. It is these process aligned content management apps that allow Spring CM to go beyond traditional content management in function, as well as ease of implementation.
Spring CM refers to this capability as dynamic case management. It is a good term as it allows customers to drive more consistent content management processes, enhance team productivity and increase management visibility by giving them the ability to more efficiently and quickly organize people, tasks and content around document-intensive, collaborative business processes. That is a lot of words but basically it allows you to build the content components of work support around the way you work and avoid confirming to the limitations of a software package. SpringCM also provides templates to ease the task of creating custom work support tools. Below you can see a sample case management dashboard.
To facilitate the use of the case management approach, SpringCM has implemented a checklist model. They did some research on the best approach and I agree with their selection. It does not attempt to dumb down the job. Checklists are used by experts. They do not tell you how to do things but help you remember all the things that need to be done. Here is a sample checklist in use.
They also added an activity stream. I think this is a transformative feature for content management and collaboration tools as you can easily see what is going on in an area of interest. There are auto-generated updates based on user activity and you can also manually add updates Twitter-style. Below is a sample checklist with a related activity stream.
Since it a Web-based API you can create you own interface so users are not aware they are operating within SpringCM. This places your content in a better context for your specific work tasks. You can also integrate with other applications such as SharePoint and Salesforce.com. For example, this allows you to overcome some of the limitations of SharePoint while still using your investment in it. You can place content from SharePoint within SpringCM for more functionality and then put it back into SharePoint once your work is done.
SpringCM has also invested in support for mobile apps including iPad compatibility. This enables organizations to put content to work for executives and knowledge workers on the go so they can get work done where and when it needs to be. Mobile content management will only increase over the next few years. Below is a sample iPad interface.
I really like what they are doing and wish I had these capabilities when I was hand building content intense process aligned applications in the 1990s. They need a new term as Spring M goes way beyond what we think of as content management to enable some of the visions within enterprise 2.0.
by Bill Ives
There is a growing market in the eDiscovery and compliance space as organizations amass a growing and vast amount of content in an increasing variety of formats. I recently spoke with Index Engines about their capabilities. They have developed the means to look into a variety of backup formats that have previously been difficult to deal with. Index Engines recently announced that the Index Engines Collection Engine now works with EMC Data Domain deduplication storage systems and leverages existing backup processes to automatically identify and extract specific files and email for regulatory, compliance and legal applications. They also work with a number of other formats.
As they pointed out, only a small subset of the data captured in the backup process is of value for long-term access. To filter down the volume of data that is archived, detailed knowledge of the backup images is required. Index Engines Collection Engine automatically indexes backup images, identifies the useful content, collects what is relevant and writes it back to Data Domain storage making it available for compliance and litigation purposes.
The Index Engines Collection Engine for Data Domain indexes the content of backup images so that they can be searched and analyzed for business relevance. These searches can be high-level metadata such as user mailboxes, or detailed queries based on file or email content, location and date ranges. Searches are saved as stored queries that run automatically once a new backup is executed.
The relevant set of data that is identified within the backup image is extracted into a Collection image and written back to the Data Domain system. This allows a small subset, typically less than 5% of the backup data, to be retained for long-term access and also takes advantage of the Data Domain deduplication technology. Specific user files or email can be extracted, keeping all metadata intact, for compliance with legal and regulatory requirements. Here is sample of the Index Engine interface.
This issue will only grow in importance as organizations are generating an ever-increasing amount of data. The introduction of more unstructured data through internal social media only makes it a more massive job. In addition, Index Engines indicated that courts and regulatory agencies are becoming more demanding as the technology for eDiscovery becomes more accessible. They used to give organizations more of break because the process was so expense. Now that progress has been made and costs are coming down this tolerance is tightening up. This is certainly a growth field that serves a very useful purpose.
by Bill Ives
Hot Lava Mobile enables you to reach, train and communicate with your mobile workforce and on-the-go employees, partners, and customers. Hot Lava Mobile provides the ability to develop and deliver a variety of content and analyze results in support of corporate communications and mobile learning. It was the winner of eLearning! Magazine’s Readership Award for ‘Best Mobile Learning Solution’ in each of the last two years.
I spoke with Mike Gregory from OutStart about its capabilities. The tool was acquired in 2009 as part of the plan to expand their Knowledge Solutions offerings. I covered another component of these offerings in the post, OutStart’s Participate Supports the Social Side of Enterprise Work Processes. As a disclosure I am now working with OutStart on their social media efforts.
OutStart saw the rising capabilities of mobile devices as they progressed from being simple phones to becoming hand held computers with multiple capabilities. It also saw the increasing interest and potential of connecting to these powerful, always available, always connected devices. This makes a lot of sense to me.
OutStart wanted a tool that was simple to use and was flexible enough to support a variety of use cases. Security was another concern, as was the ability to effectively handle audio and video. In addition, they wanted a tool that would operate on most, if not all, of the expanding number of mobile devices without any modifications. They wanted the ability for the tool to adjust messages to the many different screen sizes, resolution settings, and power within mobile devices. Hot Lava Mobile effectively addressed all these issues. You create the content, and the technology figures out how to get to play properly on the many different mobile devices.
To create new content you can leverage the familiar PowerPoint environment to quickly develop mobile content once for deployment over 500 different internet-enabled mobile devices without the need for customization. There are many Hot Lava Mobile extensions to PowerPoint support the development of quizzes, polls, and assessments. Below you can see a PowerPoint being used to create a message.
Hot Lava Mobile also enables use of numerous content elements including rich audio and video, and Flash. With the ability to interact with users, enable instant feedback, reporting, and measurement you see how the content was received, read and understood. Hot Lava Mobile is a SaaS offering.
Here is an example of the capabilities within Hot Lava Mobile. A global insurance company used mobile learning as a way of reaching its workforce in a crisis situation. Polls were first sent to workers to gauge the situation to determine proper response. This secured engagement, as well as relevancy. Once assessed, information was then sent to workers in the form of text messages, audio, video, diagrams, and job aids such as check lists. A sample is shown below.
In each instance, real-time reporting ensured everyone had completed the poll, read instructions, taken training or simulations, passed assessments, and actually used the material on the job. You can see a sample assessment summary below.
A post-crisis mobile survey indicated that emergency workers were able to assess damage 20% faster than in previous crisis situations. This translates into cost savings to both the company and their subscribers. This case used the polling, multi-channel delivery, and assessment functions within Hot Lava.
Here are some other examples: change management, employee engagement, and learning reinforcement.
by Bill Ives
Jacob Morgan at Chess Media Group is conducting a study on enterprise 2.0 and collaboration. The purpose of the survey is to address issues that executives will find relevant when considering to invest in enterprise 2.0 initiatives. They are asking questions such as: what tools organizations are using and why, how budgets are being allocated, and how the ROI is measured. I took part with my Darwin Ecosystem hat on and I think the results should be very interesting.
The survey takes around 5-10 minutes to complete and all of your information is confidential. If you complete the survey, you receive access to four enterprise collaboration case studies featuring Intuit, Vistaprint, Oce, and the Federal Government. The research is sponsored by the Enterprise 2.0 Conference and the Social Business Forum, among others.
The more people who take this survey, the more useful it will become so I recommend participating.
by Bill Ives
In early February 2011, following Lotusphere, IBM hosted an online conversation (called a “Jam”), bringing together over 2,700 participants—representing corporations, academic institutions, nonprofit organizations and government agencies—to discuss social business and the ways in which it can redefine how we work in the years ahead. I was one of the participants.
For 72 hours, individuals from over 80 countries “jammed” on key issues and generated new ideas on the major themes:
• Building the social business of the future
• Developing participatory organizations through social adoption
• Using social media to understand and engage with customers
• Determining what social means for IT
• Identifying risks and establishing governance
IBM has now published a report synthesizing the 2,600 discussion posts and more than 600 tweets from the Jam. Some of the highlights include:
- Over 25 percent of (non-IBM) participants said their organizations have low to medium levels of adoption of social business practices, with a key concern being the pressure to quantify the ROI of social solutions. Many participants believe usage of social media is absolutely quantifiable and measurable, but it involves tracking a new set of metrics. While others noted that calculating ROI of social media is attacking the problem from wrong direction. “You can successfully measure the ROI of social media,” one participant wrote, “but you must first understand your audience’s needs and motivations for engaging with social media.”
- The role of middle managers is changing—or perhaps disappearing altogether. Many social business capabilities reduce the need for typical middle management tasks.
- One of the Jam quick polls was “What percentage of your online time do you spend on social networking?” and 25% answered “More than 50%.”
- Another Jam quick poll was “What is most likely to encourage you to use social software more often in your job?” While 24% said “Ease of use of the tools,” 47% said “Embedded in the applications I use to do my job.”
- The “building the social business of the future” forum was by far the most popular, perhaps because it covered a wide range of issues related to social business. Discussions touched upon the problems with email, how to create incentive for the sharing of knowledge, social networking’s involvement in government and much more.
- There will be an increased focus on integrating social activities and business processes, and there was quite a bit of discussion around how the culture of a company must shift to embrace social (for current employees and alumni who represent an organization’s brand.)
We have to remember that this is a biased sample toward early extensive adopters of social media. However, the results are still quite interesting.