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Enterprise Collaboration News, Reviews

Beware Red Herrings: Intranet vs. ESN is a Sham

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Should I replace my intranet with an Enterprise Social Network?

Internal communications departments have debated this question, as have ESN teams and intranet teams. Maybe they saw higher adoption and engagement on their ESN platform, or read success stories from their peers. Or maybe their tired intranet publishing platform is in desperate need of replacing.

The More Things Change, the More They Stay the Same

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When the Internet came along, optimism was at an all-time high. We thought we would solve all the problems of the world, possibilities were endless.

And granted, we solved many. We work much better today because of the innovations of the last 20 years. The scope of these improvements has been massive. However, one major problem still looms -- collaboration in the workplace. Seems like a no-brainer doesn't it? Everyone is connected, so it should be easy to work in unison, splitting tasks and having every specialist do their own thing.

"Should" is the keyword here.

Forget Intranets, Give Me an ESN

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We heard it all a decade ago: Intranets are the wave of the future. Intranets are a waste of resources. Intranets are valuable tools. Intranets need to be social. Intranets are dead.

The only thing that's true is that Intranets need to solve an actual problem. Many organizations wanted an Intranet to replicate a little of the Internet inside their organization. Very few asked why they needed one.

Endangered Species: The Corporate Intranet

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The very idea that we’re still doing old-fashioned, browser-based, news-publishing intranets in the mobile era is downright antiquated. They’re no different than rotary-dial phones. And they’re going the same direction as your old olive-drab rotary phone did -- and as a result of the same technologies.

The question facing intranets should be how internal collaboration and communication tools are going to evolve in the world of social, cloud and mobile -- and whether there’s any place left for the traditional intranet down the line. We shouldn’t be asking if enterprise social will replace the intranet, but rather how long the whole idea of a browser-based intranet portal really has left in the face of mobile apps and form factors (of which social is only one example).

You may not like the message. You may care a great deal for your intranet. You may be tied to it for professional, emotional or financial reasons. You may not see how your company could live without it. And I get it. Believe it or not, I envision, plan and build intranets in my day job. I’m close to this patient. But I know where it’s going.

Multitasking? You're Killing Yourself for Nothing

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Midway between juxtaposed thoughts about a report I was struggling to complete and a phone call I just missed, I decided to check my email, look at LinkedIn and scan my Facebook feed – all while taking a brisk morning stroll in beautiful Beaufort, S.C., what I have come to consider one of the most pleasant places on the planet.

Then I stumbled on a post by Rohit Bhargava — a marketing author, keynote speaker and "nice guy" — and everything became clear.

This multitasking is crazy.

Or to paraphrase what he stated so much more eloquently: when you aren't fully present, you miss 100 percent of the experience in the places you're thinking about as well as the place you are in.

I stood there, momentarily paralyzed, on a trail full of trees draped with Spanish moss, overlooking a river dotted with sailboats. And then I did the only logical thing I could think of doing.

I walked down the dock to enjoy the view.

This is How We DevOps

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Last month, instead of retreading over the tired “What is DevOps?” ground, I asked a different question: “How Do You DevOps?” While the debate over litmus tests and succinct definitions continues, one voice struck a chord. While I empathize with Josh Johnson’s angst and frustration, I would offer an alternative conclusion.

Do You Connect? Collaboration's New Kids on the Block #SXSW

Assuming you weren’t one of the Meerkat minions running around live-streaming your every experience at SXSW Interactive, you probably noticed that collaboration technology continued to be a top trend among exhibitors this year.

And for good reason. Much the way computers transformed business productivity in the late 80s and early 90s and the Internet apps fuel-injected the 2000s, collaboration technologies promise a similar leap in productivity for the 2010s.

Brian Solis, principal analyst with the Altimeter Group, defines collaboration technologies as one of the trends changing the way we work. "Collaboration platforms give us the ability to connect our people and information together anywhere, anytime, and on any device," he noted.

Intranets or ESN? Why Not Both

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Do we have to choose between intranets and enterprise social networks (ESNs)?  Before we can tackle that question, let's take a brief look at Intranets and ESNs as they are being used today.

Unify Wants You to Call Customers with Your Browsers

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A new round of competition has ignited a field that many considered all but dead just last year.

Microsoft’s extension of Skype communications into the enterprise, replacing the Lync brand, and Cisco’s formal unveiling of Spark put unified communications (UC) back in the spotlight.

Unify — the former Siemens Enterprise Communications — scrambled this week to get attention, too. It reaffirmed its commitment to building a business communications and collaboration platform that needs only web browsers. By adding features to its collaboration platform called Circuit, it hopes it attain at least the perception of parity in this crowded field.

Why True Analytic Collaboration Relies on Empathy

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As more organizations embrace the use of analytics to drive business initiatives forward, one buzzword you’re likely to hear quite often in the months ahead is collaboration. Conventional wisdom tells us that collaboration is a key ingredient in any successful analytics project.

Conventional wisdom is absolutely right. Without question, as the level of collaboration grows, so too does likelihood of an analytics initiative succeeding.

It all seems simple enough, and yet, despite widespread agreement on its importance, too many analytics projects still fail for lack of collaboration.

It’s not the need for better technology or the lack of a data scientist, but the inability of stakeholders in the organization to truly collaborate. Clearly, there’s a significant disconnect between our understanding of the need for collaboration and our failure to actually do it. The question is why -- and just as importantly -- what can be done about it? 

Is Email the Solution to Information Overload?

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Information overload prohibits you from "focusing on what matters most." Email is the primary cause of overload because you have too many email message to process. Solve the email problem and you will conquer information overload.

This is what IBM, Microsoft and Google want you to believe. All three companies recently released products to help you cut down on email-related information overload.

Here is how each company touts their new offerings:

IBM Verse offers a faster, better way to manage business communications across devices, organize inbound and outbound information, and focus on what you need most.

Google Inbox is a fresh start that goes beyond email to help you get back to what matters.

Microsoft Clutter is designed to help you focus on the most important messages in your inbox. It uses machine learning to de-clutter your inbox by moving lower priority messages out of your way and into a new Clutter folder. Ultimately, Clutter removes distractions so you can focus on what matters most.

Focus on what matters most …. Is it an incredible coincidence that all three companies identify the same need? Or is this problem so commonplace that the demand for a solution is abundantly obvious?  Will "fixing" email really alleviate the problem of information overload and let you focus on what matters most?

I think not.

Cisco Rebrands 'Squared,' Wants to Spark Your Collaborative Energies

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Is the principal tool you use for inter-office communication still Microsoft Outlook? A number of companies, including Microsoft, IBM, Unify (formerly part of Siemens), Google, and Salesforce all have a stake in replacing it with a service that connects you with your colleagues using live text and videoconferencing.

Cisco is also among this group — and arguably has the most to gain. It made significant investments in networking infrastructure gear and videoconferencing appliances. It's also the parent company of meeting facilitator service WebEx.

So the company’s announcement today that it is not converging its business communications platforms into one, at least for now, is perplexing.

You Called? Lync Is Out, Skype for Business Is In #Conv15

The Skype communications platform officially became part of Microsoft Office today At the Convergence conference in Atlanta, the company announced the end of the Lync era with the launch of the Skype for Business technical preview.

It is indeed Skype.

With this new edition, the directory scheme is effectively flattened, making traditional Skype users available on calls placed through the Skype for Business client — formerly the Lync client.

The traditional Skype calling system, which uses P2P protocol over the Internet and the SILK codec for call clarity, is now bolted onto the Business edition as well.

But with a few other feature exceptions, the client remains quite similar.

From Build It and Go, to Ready to Go with SharePoint

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For many years, businesses viewed SharePoint as a framework on which to build solutions. The combination of flexibility and editing tools provided allowed them to design customized solutions which met business requirements.   

But technology is changing. And so is how we use and want to consume it. We hunger for solutions that can be quickly acquired and implemented, not ones that require building out complex and robust solutions.  The world around us is changing fast and it's exciting to see how productivity tools are beginning to encompass almost every area of our lives.

Office Delve Wants You to Work Like a Network #Conv15

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Office Delve can surface data in email and social feeds.

Julia White, general manager for the Office 365 team, made the announcement at Microsoft's Convergence 2015 in Atlanta today.

During the next two months, Delve will be made available to all users on Office 365 business plans, she explained.

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