Liveblogging Enterprise 2.0 – Suite Two panel

(Have to run now – was a great panel, will come back and add details and links later – John)

* Moderator – Rob Rueckert, Investment Manager, Intel Capital
* Speaker – Chris Alden, EVP, Professional Products, Six Apart
* Speaker – David Cassady, EVP of Operations, SpikeSource
* Speaker – Greg Reinacker, Founder / CTO, NewsGator Technologies, Inc.
* Speaker – Ross Mayfield, CEO and Co-Founder, Socialtext

Panel introductions:
Greg Reinacker from Newsgator – founder, CTO – now, people come to us saying “I need these technologies” as opposed to us trying to expain to them what they need. What we need to overcome now is the “what about sharepoint” or “what about IE 7 and Vista” challenges as an RSS vendor

Ross Mayfield – founder, CEO of SocialText – the first wiki company. Perhaps the first company to call themselves enterprise 2.0. Four years ago we had to explain what wikis were, and what the could be used for – the four ps. Projects (this is the classical example), Practices (short of best practices – just write stuff down), People, Portals? (lost the last p there). Now there is a widespread understanding of the tools. Also generational -people who grew up doing their homework on myspace when it was called cheating, they get to work and it is called collaboration.

Chris Alden – heads the business unit at SixApart for movable type and typepad. Moving from punditry to productivity. As people find that these new ways of having conversations can be very useful – there is a whole new set of needs which emerge as you talk about taking blogs to the enterprise – ldap integration, getting everything working together. Ultimately I want ease of use, best of breed, but also I want them to work together.

David Cassidy, Spike Source. Could be open source, could be next generation / web 2.0 offerings, could be proprietary offerings. What we’re surprised about with suite two is that though it was targetted toward small and medium size businesses, large enterprises have taken notice – Shell, etc. Most of the companies have these technologies in place in one form or another, and the question they face now is what to do about how to control those pieces.

Q: Most of this seems to come in through the back door – someone just buys a wiki or a blog. What challenges are you seeing as you try to get to enterprise deployments through the CIO?

Ross – Bottom up was the way it was going to happen in the first place – so we had to organize business models around it. You’re going to get to the CIO one of two ways – either one day the CIO wakes up to the prevelance of the solutions or you come in through the front door. When you get clear goals, you get adoption. That’s the better way to get into an enterprise – with clear, concrete goals. IN that case, you’re the good guy helping the CIO meet his goals.

David – a need or initiative may form in one division, but were seeing enterprises where every new initiative touches a number of departments and there is a need for centralization in IT for efficiency if not compliance.

Chris – enterprises are used to buying big solutions, and making big bets – finding a big bang that will solve all their problems. We’re hoping enterprises will adopt a bit more experimentation – make many small bets. Start with some lightweight, easy to use, best of breed apps and grow from there.

Q from Audience: For a long time our goal has been to protect core information assets from the outside and even from the inside.

Greg – Security is core to all of these solutions. It’s not about “information wants to be free” – its about integration with active directory or ldap.

Ross – it’s not information that wants to be free, its people. If you think of information as a phsyical asset that needs to be divided for security, you will be preventing collaboration – you will be in the way. Web 2.0 is about sharing control in order to deliver value. Clay Shirky – processes is an embedded reaction to previous stupidity. You need to question whenever security is the default choice.

Chris – When you buy movable type, you’re not buying a religion. Some discussions are better in a controlled environment – people have a need for revision history, for user logins to read feeds, etc. Sometimes people want more transparency enabled by tracking – what was changed when by whom.


Q: Along the same lines, in a SOX-compliant world, where people need to worry about information sharing and unexpected release of information, do we need to worry about this?

Ross – this was already happening with email. Many of these tools actually make compliance more possible because they track who changed what and when. They actualy increase transparency rather than reducing it – if something bad happens, you can find out who did it and when.

Greg – when we go in to work on an enterprise sale, we don’t lead with “change how you do things” – we let the enterprise tell us what they like and don’t like about what they are doing – we’re their to enable.


Q from Audience: In my org, we are managing risk – we need the ability to control at a high degree of granularity – even if we never have to use it, we need to know that we can. What about the ability to manage on a granular basis.

Q from Audience: When and how will this go beyond a platform for pontificators to pontificate?

Ross – it’s already happened.

Chris – Plenty of examples on our site of different people using blogs as a mechanism for communication. We’re already seeing these used for very practical reasons. Citrix, for example, using MT to share data from campaigns for different products. TWA, an ad agency / communications firm – they use MT to communicate across offices. They used to send DVDs back and for – now they use MT.

Ross – this is our burden and our opportunity. People come to the concept of using these tools with expectations from the consumer side – they expect vandalism, for example, which has not happened yet in social text’s history.

Greg – there are also innovative solutions that are not what people are thinking of in general. BOA, for example, changed a fax-notification driven fraud alert system to a popup alert, blog driven approach which gets the information to the people who need it – not what the original tech was for.

Q from Andrew McAfee – what have you all learned about initial adopters? Who’s jumping on this stuff. New workforce? Geeky folks?

Chris – I don’t think it is so much technical/non-technical issue, so much as “how painful is your problem” – how difficult is it for you to communicate to the people you’re trying to get to. People frustrated by the slow timeline of more complex heavy tools – what we see is really based on the need, not the kind of person. We want authentic dialogue and real collaboration – the system has to be easy.

Ross – traditional early adopters plus four exceptional:
– therapist (organizations with crazy transitions going on),
– shopping mall (consumerization – first wiki customers were also early bloggers),
– bar, (literally – met employees at the bar – social/work blur),
– genius bar (some leader who wants to try something new to improve innovation)

Moderator – I’d also add to that last one – most of the new enterprises really have a group devoted to R&D.

Greg – we find it doesn’t take a lot to get someone to adopt it once you show them some content they like.

David – it isn’t a question of getting them to adopt these technologies – they already are using them – the question is just really how to get them to control / manage / deal with the technologies which are already there.

Q from Audience: What about information hoarders? What’s in it for me?

Ross – You don’t need everyone in the conversation. Don’t convince them. Get everyone else using it – it is ok to have a large number of lurkers.

Chris – You can answer every question individually, or you can answer it once in a permanent location and then you don’t have to keep answering it – it can reduce your work burden if you’re the person to whom everyone goes to.

What about a company where people don’t feel any pain – they think that they are already fine with email.

It’s about saying rather than doing x, do y – instead of writing the email, write it in the blog or in the wiki – but make sure you’re not creating additional work.

Ross – let them still use email! Most of the tools can convert an email into a blog post or a wiki page.

Greg – also don’t forget that lurkers can be valuable contributors in other ways – their attention is a value. Lurkers are people too.

Q from audience: Have you noticed a tension between corporate structure (hierarchy) and the flat web 2.0 model – does the tension exist?

David – collaboration as a whole has a flattening effect, yes. So the kinds of work for which this kind of technology is effective are naturally flatter as well.

Chris – a lot of companies are looking to us to help reduce the hierarchy – they want the tools because they like the opporunity to flatten. (In some places they need hierarchy that’s ok).

Moderator – in fact, Intel Capital invested in lots of collaboration tools throughout the 80s and most of those failed – because they were too hierarchical.


McAfee – is there any example where the hierarchy wacks someone virtually?

Chris – more often what we see is that there are conversations out in the public that they want to control but can’t. But most of the time these tools you have an identity and that creates a more respectful conversation – it isn’t anonymous.

Q from audience – bottom up versus top down – which is better for adoption?

Ross – Bottom up, but with approval / consent / investment from top down – invest a bit in training – doesn’t have to be a lot but some – develop a shared language / approach to knowledge management in this way. If you’ve got consent to build a large scale enterprise wiki, take 10 people and do a quick start approach – invest a bit upfront so as to avoid problems down the road. Start with small group, hand out 5 invites to each, do another wave, keep going so that when you “launch” there is already a there, there. You’ve also created some built in connectivity and relationships in place to help manage the community before you get to a full scale connection.

David – with suite two, we’re seeing also some classic buying patterns – where a CIO says I want to get control of some of the uses of this technology within my organization.

q from audience: what about post-adoption recognition? Are companies seeing, after the fact, real changes?

Chris – I’ve mentioned quite a few already – but more are at the website

Moderator: When we created SuiteTwo we used our own wiki, and the product itself is an example of using our own approaches.

Q: Where’s budget coming from?

Ross – don’t forget about open source options as well – movable type, social text – Greg’s working on it.

David – people don’t recognize how cost effective these applications can be – a fraction of the cost of similar enterprise options- in many cases people can do this on an expense report?


Q: Is this just preparing the way for incumbent enterprise vendors to offer these features in their applications (Microsoft, IBM)?

Ross – they’re going to have these features as checkbox feature lists,but when you go look at them they’re going to suck. It’s really the absence of featuritis that defines a good product in this space. There are experts out there, third parties, with real expertise – don’t just accept the enterprise vision of your favorite vendor.

Q from audience: what percentage of overall costs is license?

Chris – depends on what you want to do. Some people get started easily, some people invest a lot in post-install consulting dollars. A lot of what we do is take what enterprises need and incorporate it into the platform. Could be 0x could be 10x depending on what you’re doing.

David – we’re seeing some “small bite” mentality – might start with a 5k “quick start” for Suite two, but could turn into a large enterprise scale out with someone like unisys, or even someone like O’Reilly doing strategy about how you should be deploying suite two style applications.

Ross – Suite Two is an appliance in order to keep costs low. It has its origins in work (point to point) that many of us were already doing in terms of standards for moving content from wiki to blog to rss enterprise feed. Some of it is open source, all of it is API based – it is all easily integratable into your existing infrastructure.

David – you can use hosted, you can get an appliance, you can also get plain old software.

Greg – That doesn’t mean, of course, that there aren’t real costs to doing this stuff – like any traditional enterprise application.


Q from audience: Isn’t a blog just going to be another data type? Blog is just a rich text editor with tagging capabilities. Why wouldn’t this just get folded into an existing application.

Chris – I disagree with how you’re defining a blog. I think of it more as a lightweight content management platform – managing multiple blogs, authors, users, forums – I think of this as a much broader concept. Some of this will get commoditized by the larger enterprise vendors – but we will continue to innovate on top of the existing state of the art.

Q from audience: 600 wikis – integrate or migrate to some future standard. Also ECM – how does ECM fit into this picture?

Ross: There are benefits to migrating to a standard. THere’s part of me that doesn’t like this because when you collapse them together you miss something. There are network effects and serendipity that comes from multiple different platforms moving in an enterprise – so don’t completely migrate to one and only one.

Chris – many customers use movable type as an ECM. We’re constantly added more features which head in that direction. Not addressing the high end, but the middle – those middle players are often served just as well by a blog-platform as by an ECM platform, at a lower cost.

Greg – ECM platforms are going to be around for some time – they do some great things and are necessary in many cases. But we’re seeing is people taking content out of blogs and rss into ECM, or takign content out of ECM and feeding into the RSS feed.


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