This is my final Top 10 learnings list from this year's Burton Catalyst conference. This list relates to desktop virtualization, productivity suites, and enterprise content management:

  • It will be 2012-2014 before companies do wholesale desktop replacement using virtual end-points.

  • Licensing can be an issue with virtual desktops, especially with Microsoft and Oracle.

  • Productivity suite options: 1) Stay with MS Office, 2) Give an alternative to disenfranchised users only, 3) Use an MS Office alternative - mostly, 4) Wait to dump MS Office until XML support improves, 5) Replace current productivity tools with collaboration tools.

  • If you ever see Microsoft Office dethroned, it will be because there has been a fundamental shift in the content creation market.

  • When you don’t treat content review like a project, you get all the same problems as a poorly run project.

  • Content is the currency used by businesses to make decisions.

  • Why isn’t there more use of digital rights management? Not perceived as having enough value, yet. However, it will grow in importance.

  • One big gap for the non-Microsoft productivity suite vendors is their lack of integration with SharePoint.

  • Think of structured and unstructured content as different views of corporate information.

  • Don’t assume that all corporate information is inside the firewall.
So that concludes my coverage of Catalyst. Overall, it was an interesting four days filled with timely insight. I would definitely consider attending again.

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Here is the next Top 10 list of things I heard at Catalyst 09. This list focuses on Unified Communications(UC):

  1. Mobility is a critical enabler to the business and increasingly a critical part to selling UC to the business.

  2. Be patient. Allow the UC market to continue to mature before making major UC investments.

  3. “UC is not even close to mainstream adoption.”

  4. Cloud-based services will likely play an incremental role in UC strategies.

  5. Video conferencing is becoming much more integrated with web conferencing and telephony.

  6. Integrating video conferencing between businesses is still problematic, due to lacking standards. However, some federation services are emerging. However, they require that the parties use some of the same platforms.

  7. Communications-Enabled Business Process (CEBP) is nirvana. Standards, integrations, and ecosystems don’t yet exist to support rich CEBP. Recommendation: Make CEBP the goal and push your vendors to enable.

  8. UC moved us from device centric, disjointed communications to person-centric, presence-aware, device-agnostic communications.

  9. User access to UC functionality should exist within the applications where users live (email, business applications, UC platform interfaces).

  10. The desktop is increasingly extended to mobile devices – Don’t forget mobility in your UC client strategy.

Look for one more post to wrap up my Catalyst learnings.

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Catalyst Top 10: Social Computing

Posted by Brett Young | Thursday, August 13, 2009 | , | 0 comments »

This my the second top 10 list from the Burton Catalyst ’09 conference. Here are my Top 10 take-aways from the various Social Computing sessions at Catalyst:

  1. Encourage networking relating to both professional expertise and personal interests to create stronger accountability and engagement.

  2. Networks happen. Social networking technology makes it easier to build and sustain larger, more diverse networks within a hierarchical structure.

  3. Benefits of Internal Social Networking: Accelerates communication and problem solving, creating peer-to-peer communication capability. Captures individual worker know-how for reuse by many, creating collective intelligence. Creates peer-to-peer communication in context, deepening understanding for decision making.

  4. People are used to just asking someone if they don’t know the answer. However, you need to know who to ask. With social networking you can throw a question out to the community. In most cases the answer will come from someone you don’t know.

  5. Teach people when to use the tools or they will latch on to one tool and use it for everything.

  6. Email is the #1 competitor to enterprise social computing.

  7. Everyone thinks they are behind with social networking. The fact is that everyone is still trying to figure it out.

  8. Employee rating can surface disconnects between what the boss/peers think and what the “public” thinks. This is a good thing.

  9. Relationship on-boarding is a continuous process. Social networking can help improve the efficiency of this process.

  10. The best practice is to get the seed money for the first social networking initiative on faith, and use that experience to justify additional investment.

Are you involved in an enterprise social computing initiative? Let me know if you agree/disagree with any of these findings.

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Catalyst Top 10: Software-as-a-Service

Posted by Brett Young | Tuesday, August 11, 2009 | , | 0 comments »

I’m finally getting around to publishing my notes from Burton Group’s Catalyst '09 conference. I had intended to live blog each session. However, for various reasons, some technical and some logistical, that just didn’t work out. Now as I comb through pages of notes I struggle with how to best publish them. I’ve decided to publish a series of brief Top 10 lists that boil down my learnings on specific topics. This is the first list and it focuses on Software-as-a-Service (SaaS):

  1. Enterprise IT and the vendors are both too immature to leverage SaaS today.

  2. Be strategic when planning an SaaS pilot. Focus on the “underserved” users, since SaaS functionality will be perceived as limited compared to current enterprise solutions. Email for call center employees is perceived by many companies as low risk and a good opportunity for early SaaS.

  3. To prepare for SaaS, companies should be working toward making their internal services more modular, so that pieces can be easily moved to the cloud in the future. We need to really understand application interdependencies. A mature Configuration Management Databases (CMDB) will improve the likelihood of succeeding with SaaS.

  4. Don’t think that issues that have challenged enterprises for decades (such as performance, availability, maintenance, capacity, etc.) just magically go away for the SaaS vendor. They have these same challenges. However, they’re success depends upon their ability to hide challenges from you, the customer. Just because the vendor isn’t talking about them doesn’t mean they’re not experiencing them. If you’re not careful you’ll just end up with the same mess you have today, just in someone else’s data center.

  5. Instead of SLAs, some cloud vendors are instead opting for full discloser of availability and performance. Customers can then decide whether they can accept the risk. They can always fire the provider if requirements are not met.

  6. Records management functions are not very good in current SaaS solutions.

  7. SaaS has shown enterprises that there are much easier licensing models. However, venders still need to figure out how to make it easy for companies to buy on premise and hosted services with a single pricing model, and with flexibility to move users between on premise and hosted without breaking the pricing model and requiring new contract negotiations.

  8. We are conditioned to do large releases that require user training. However, with SaaS expect to see releases of one or two features at a time, but on a much more frequent basis. At this rate of change, training is not necessary.

  9. Businesses are still concerned about what is out of their control with SaaS. For example, there is really no case law on SaaS, making it impossible to access risk. No one wants to be the test case. Let someone else be the first.

  10. Google is building a connector to Outlook, so companies can continue to use Outlook on the desktop, with Google in the cloud.
What do you think? Do you disagree with any of these assertions? How is your company approaching Software-as-a-Service?

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