First the backstory

A cloud of confusion fell upon Documentum enthusiasts last month when EMC Information Infrastructure Products President Pat Gelsinger told UK Technology journal v3 that EMC would be focusing its strategy on Cloud and Big Data rather than Social and Mobile.

"Social and mobile are clearly consumer-driven trends and we weren't given consumer DNA,” Gelsinger told the journal. Referring specifically to EMC’s Content Management offering he added, "It's not that Documentum won't participate in the social side but we are just not Facebook.”

We don’t know what else Gelsinger told the UK reporter, but the headline that crowned the article read, “Cloud computing central to EMC's future as it turns its back on social and mobile.”

This no doubt aroused a bit of concern among some of Documentum’s most loyal, long term customers who had swallowed its Content Management offering hook, line and sinker -- did this mean that they were going to have to look elsewhere for Social and Mobile Enterprise Information Management needs?

No, said Jeetu Patel, EMC IIG’s Chief Strategy Officer, when we interviewed him shortly after seeing the aforementioned article. “Mobile and Social are key elements of our strategy,” he said, then went on to explain. “If you think about it, mobile and social make the possibilities of the Cloud and Big Data more real.”

Patel’s talk seems to match EMC’s walk. The company added iPhone and iTouch apps to its Documentum Mobile app offering in the iTunes store late last month. (The iPad app was brought to market earlier.)

The Social Future

And there is strong reason to believe that there is a new Social Enterprise play in the works. It will likely leverage Socialcast, a product from VMware, a company in which EMC is heavily invested.

While EMC doesn’t seem to have made any official Documentum/Socialcast announcements as of yet, EMC IIG’s Chief Architect Jeroen van Rotterdam did mention that they were working on a prototype to integrate Socialcast into their clients, such as their D2 product, at Momentum Europe (EMC IIG’s user conference) which was held in the fourth quarter of last year.

For those who are unfamiliar with Socialcast, it bills itself as a “powerful activity stream engine for the Enterprise, with a focus on helping medium and large companies socialize and centralize their communications between people, applications and data.” Van Rotterdam more simply describes it as “twitter for the enterprise which offers the ability to push content to an activity stream. End-users can then subscribe to an activity stream and see the content popup.”

The Latest Clue on Documentum’s Social Enterprise Plans

Van Rotterdam posted a blog last week talking about how EMC plans to add value to the Documentum/Socialcast integration by giving activity streams “smarts,” which means that the right, useful, information will show up at the right time according to the activity the end user is engaged in. Not only that, but the context of the information can be static or dynamic. In the case of the latter, the information that shows up is filtered according to the activities and choices of the knowledge worker and how he interacted with the system.

It’s probably safe to say that a Social Enterprise system like this would clearly gain more utilization than the Facebook facsimiles that many companies are pasting over their Enterprise Apps today. We can say this for two reasons: first, because it is likely to be integrated with a BPM or Case Management application and would therefore be directly related to an ongoing activity; and second, because the information shared makes every knowledge worker “smarter.”

So when will EMC IIG introduce its new Social Enterprise offering? We don’t know. We suspect that it could happen at AIIM (if so, we’ll report on it next week) or at EMC World in May. We found a description in the EMC World 2012 catalog that says:

Imagine Facebook and LinkedIn for the Enterprise. EMC partner products such as Cisco Quad and VMware Socialcast provide these capabilities today. Imagine these sitting on top of the Documentum Platform providing real-time collaboration (meetings, chat) and unified communications capabilities. Join us to discover what a true social enterprise platform should be -- scalable, secure, compliant, and able to leverage the value of the Documentum stack including xCP for real-time decision making associated with cases.

Of course, there’s always the chance that there will be no announcement, but then why would van Rotterdam be blogging about it right now, as his posts are typically infrequent? And why the session at EMC World? EMC IIG’s leaders have promised to walk their talk, and they seem to have said quite a lot.

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