What happens when you put four industry luminaries and a good moderator in one room? The room gets packed with people, who came to see the analysts fight over the hottest industry issues. And this is exactly what happened at the Gilbane Conference in San Francisco.

Frank Gilbane, president of the Gilbane Group, moderated this session with the following panelists participating:

  • Hadley Reynolds (HR), research director, IDC
  • Rob Koplowitz (RK), principal analyst, Forrester
  • Scott Liewehr (SL), senior consultant for WCM, Gilbane Group
  • Tony Byrne (TB), founder, The Real Story Group

Trends in the Past Year

RK: Social and what’s going on with clients in the enterprises. They are deliberately pursuing social technologies. SharePoint 2010 is big disruptor, as well as Lotus Connections. Organizations are committing to social technology as part of their enterprise strategy, driving deep organizational and cultural changes and innovation.

SL: One dangerous thing in the adoption of social media is taking away pilots. Organizations may think they don’t work in the social media world. But let’s try and figure out the implications first.

TB: The hybridization of commercial and open source, especially participation around community development and support, and peer-oriented interaction. There are lots of ways to be open, but there are different degrees of honesty. Alfresco, for example, behaves the same as any commercial vendor.

HR: The biggest change (and it will continue in the years to come) is the explosion of data about social behavior, of data about what is being said socially. It all became analyzable. In organizations, someone needs to do that job, as there’s an emerging need for overviewing of social data and metadata, someone needs to own that.

The Profile Fight

TB: The proliferating profile problem – you cannot shove it all into a directory service. There’s a fight brewing among vendors as to who's going to own the profile. When looking at social tools for the enterprise, the advice is to consume a profile from somewhere else. is proposing some interesting things.

HR: In the enterprise, we can define some roles. Some vendors do multiple profile support based on roles. Who owns the profile in the organization is going to be a big issue.

RK: We play multiple roles when we interact with vendors vs. internally in the organization. We need to think about how to manage multiple roles within an enterprise.

TB: If the profile becomes a service and individuals can control it, can we control it in a rational way? When the profile is managed as a service, there’s a greater control and more transparency.

Important UX Patterns

HR: Search interface is gonna change completely. Google gave in and added the left-hand rail for additional info and tooling to help refine search. In E-commerce, they will do a lot more graphics- and image-related suggestions.

RK: Where privacy is mantra, sharing information more broadly in broad communities of interest makes the information much more valuable. Change of thinking for information workers.

TB: Tools are getting more complex - works for info junkies and power users. But regular users just want a tool to do their jobs and nothing more. One pattern in UIs is simplification. Also, a pattern of “top tasks” for website UX. We should apply the same method to tools we ask employees to use.

SL: People are finally starting to understand that the web is not paper, not everything has to be above the fold, people are getting used to scrolling down. You can scroll, it's there.

Social Media Pilots: To Be or Not to Be

The argument started around Andrew McAfee’s post entitled "Drop the pilot," in which he advocates to forego pilots in social computing and collaboration in the enterprise because this makes your projects too predisposed to failure. If there’s no critical mass of people who participate, you condemn yourself to failure. Only 4 people in the audience said they would deploy a technology sans pilot.

RK: There are pilots going on that are unbeknownst to you. People are doing them, you cannot shut them down. This is the year people come to realize that pilots do work. I believe there's a place for pilots.

SL: Depends on whether you're inside or outside the firewall. Need critical mass, pick 150 people with a common purpose and make the pilot time-bound.

TB: Social media gurus may overestimate the network effect. Respect that it works rather than squash it.

SL: Pass the “sniff test,” don’t throw everything away.

Standalone Social Platforms or Social Tools Integrated with SharePoint, WCM?

RK: We will see a lot of prebuilt capabilities in vendors’ proposals. Oracle talks about social enabling, you will see social add-ons in the organization, but need to test whether there's a separate layer in the infrastructure for social. Some orgs want to stay on cutting edge with social media.

TB: Social is a lot of different things. When customers are asking for social as a service, there’s an increasing concern about creating new silos. The existing offerings from Enterprise CMS and Web CMS vendors are not that good. The issue here is how do I get those capabilities, yet not create any silos. Hoping the buyers can help the industry to get there.

SL: On the outside of firewall, Twitter is not going anywhere. The company that figures out how to use it and integrate wins.

HR: Different organizations have different kinds of barriers. Ten years from now social will be like e-mail. There’s a clash between IT strategy (Do I buy from a big vendor?) and corporate strategy about knowledge exchange and getting value from social software.