Dropbox Paper is a Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Last week, I wrote about the commoditization of the enterprise file sharing market and how pure play vendors are being forced to evolve their offerings to stay alive. My post focused on Hightail (originally YouSendIt) and its announcement of Spaces – a specialized file sharing, annotating and publishing offering for creative professionals.
Dropbox also made a product announcement last week, albeit quietly. The company has expanded beta testing of Paper, a new offering that was released in a highly limited beta, in March, under the name Notes.  Like Hightail’s new offering, Dropbox’s illustrates how they are responding to the functional parity that vendors have achieved with basic file sharing offerings and to their rapid downward price movement.

Yet Another Collaborative Authoring Tool?

Most commentators, including Gigaom’s Nathaniel Mott in his article from last week, described Paper as “a collaborative writing tool”. They compared it to Google Docs, Microsoft Office (especially its Word and OneNote components) and startup Quip. For sure, Paper has similar functionality to those products, and it allows people to write and edit documents together in real-time. However, I don’t believe that is the main point of Dropbox’s beta product. Instead, Paper is intended to be used as a lightweight case management tool.
Case Management is a discipline that brings resources, including relevant content, related to a single instance of a business process or an initiative into a common place – the case folder. While many think of Case Management as a digital technology, its principles were established in business activities that were wholly paper-based.
Think of an insurance claim years ago, where a customer filled out a paper claim form, and it  was then routed throughout the insurance company in a paper folder. As the process continued, additional paper documents, perhaps even printed photographs, were added to the folder. The last documents to go into the folder were the final claim decision letter to the customer and a copy of the check, if a payment was made on the claim.
Today, that same insurance claim process is likely to generate and use a mix of paper-based and electronic documents, although insurance companies are slowly moving as much of the process online as possible. However, the concept of organizing information related to the claim into a single folder remains, although the folder is now likely to be an electronic artifact, not a paper one.

A Wolf in Sheep’s Clothing

Take another look at Dropbox’s beta Paper. Do you see it? Paper is a single point of organization for new content, files stored in Dropbox (and other repositories), existing Web content and discussions on all of those things. It’s a meta-document that acts like a case folder.
Paper enables lightweight case management, not the industrial-strength, production kind needed to handle high-volume, transactional business processes like insurance claims. Paper is case management for small teams, whose work might follow a pattern over time, but does not conform to a well-defined, repeatable process.
Working on a new software product at an early-stage startup with only a few coworkers? Start a new document in Paper, then add the functional and technical requirements, business projections, marketing assets, sales collateral, even the code for the software. Everything that is relevant to the product is one place in which it can be shared, viewed, commented on, discussed, edited and used for decision making. Just like a case folder in Case Management.

A New Way of Working

Still not convinced? Dropbox Product Manager Matteus Pan recently said:
“Work today is really fragmented…teams have really wanted a single surface to bring all of [their] ideas into a single place.” “Creation and collaboration are only half the problem,” he said. “The other half is how information is organized and retrieved across an entire company.”
That sounds like case management to me, but not the old-school type that you are likely more familiar with. Instead, Paper reflects the newer principles of Adaptive Case Management.
Adaptive Case Management (ACM) is a newer technology set that has been evolving from Production Case Management (PCM) over the last few years. ACM helps people deal with volatile processes by including collaboration tools alongside the workflow tools that are the backbone of PCM.
Dropbox Paper may be viewed as an extreme example of ACM, one which relies completely on the manual control of work rather than automating parts of it. In that regard, Paper takes its cues from enterprise social software, which is also designed to enable human coordination of emergent work, rather than the automation of stable processes. As Paper is more widely used in the current beta and beyond, it will be interesting to see if its adoption is stunted by the same obstacles that have limited the wholesale changes to established ways of working that social software requires.

Crashing Waves

I have not yet seen a demo of Dropbox Paper, but the screenshots, textual descriptions and comments from Dropbox employees that I have absorbed are enough to reveal that the product is more than just another collaborative authoring tool. If I was asked to make a comparison between Paper and another existing or previous tool, I would say that it reminds me of Google Wave, not Docs or Microsoft Office. Like Wave, Paper is a blank canvas on which you can collaborate with team members and work with multiple content types related to a single idea or business process in one place.
Google Wave was a powerful, but unintuitive tool that failed to get market traction. Will Paper suffer the same fate? Perhaps, but Dropbox hopes that the world is now ready for this new way to work. In fact, Dropbox is, in some regards, staking its continued existence on just that, as it tries to differentiate itself from other purveyors of commoditized file sharing services.

The State of Salesforce Community Cloud

It’s the eve of Salesforce.com’s annual Dreamforce event, and I have the company and its customers on my mind. I’ll be attending Dreamforce again (Disclaimer: Salesforce is covering my registration, travel and hotel expenses). As always, I’ll be taking in all the announcements at Dreamforce, but paying the most attention to the Community Cloud, individual applications and platform components that make up the Salesforce collaboration and content management ecosystem.
Before Dreamforce begins, it’s useful to think about the actual state of collaboration amongst Salesforce’s customer base. There will be marquee customers on stage this week talking enthusiastically about their cutting-edge use of Salesforce’s latest offering versions, including those that are not yet generally available. But what about the mainstream Salesforce customer and how they’re using the company’s products to collaborate?
To get a sense of that, I digested The State of Salesforce survey report that was recently published by Bluewolf, a global consultancy that designs customer-facing, digital experiences using third-party, cloud-based software. This year’s report is the 4th annual edition published by Bluewolf, who surveyed more that 1,500 Salesforce customer organizations, of varied organizational size and located around the world.
Bluewolf’s report does not investigate every bit of Salesforce’s collaboration and content management functionality in detail. Instead, it focuses on the assembled collection of those that is the Community Cloud. In two pages of The State of Salesforce, Bluewolf reports on Salesforce customers’ adoption of Community Cloud, its most common use cases and the high-level business benefits that customers attribute to its use.

Community Cloud Adoption

Of the Salesforce customer companies that have purchased Service Cloud, Sales Cloud, and Marketing Cloud, 36% have also purchased Community Cloud. That represents decent adoption by Salesforce’s best customers, especially for an offering that has only been in-market for a year. Even better, 21% of respondents that already license those other Salesforce clouds said that they plan on purchasing Community Cloud in the coming year. If that pans out, then over half of Salesforce’s most dedicated customers will be on Community Cloud within two years of its launch.
What the report doesn’t illuminate, and I’ll try to investigate at Dreamforce this week, is Community Cloud adoption by the rest of the existing Salesforce customer base. It’s likely that the bar is set much lower there and that Salesforce will need to refocus its marketing and sales of Community Cloud for the next wave of potential adopters. Selling Community Cloud as an enhancement of the other Salesforce clouds is very different than convincing organizations of its utility as an independent collaboration and content management solution.

Community Cloud Use Cases

As for Community Cloud use cases, Bluewolf’s survey found that the top three were Customer Service (25% of respondents), Partner Enablement (21%) and Internal Collaboration (17%). Given Salesforce’s current positioning as “The Customer Success Platform”, and the amount of resources it has spent to launch and grow the Service Cloud, it isn’t entirely surprising to see that so many customers are focusing their use of the Community Cloud on post-sales customer service.
What I did not expect is that a larger number of Community Cloud customers are using it for partner enablement than they are for internal collaboration. Given Chatter’s roots as an internal-only communication tool, I would have expected to see more internally-focused usage of Community Cloud than what was reported. Of course, Chatter isn’t the only component of Community Cloud, but it is the oldest and most established among Salesforce customers. It will be interesting to learn more this week about why external community support is out in front of internal use of Community Cloud.

Community Cloud Business Benefits

The final area of interest here that The State of Salesforce report provides data on is business benefits associated with Community Cloud. Bluewolf compares productivity gains and cost reductions reported by two Salesforce customer segments, those who are using Community Cloud versus those who aren’t.
Community Cloud Biz Benefits
Clearly, Salesforce customers who are using Community Cloud in tandem with one or more of the company’s other offerings are realizing higher productivity and lower operating costs than customers who have not adopted Community Cloud. No surprises here. As noted above, Community Cloud is an enhancement and enabler to the other Salesforce clouds. This data is proof of that notion’s validity.

The State of Salesforce Community Cloud

Bluewolf’s The State of Salesforce report raises as many, if not more, questions than it answers about collaboration and content management among Salesforce.com’s customers. As a result, it’s hard to derive much insight from the survey data reported other than that Community Cloud is enjoying respectable adoption among Salesforce’s best customers, and they are seeing greater benefits by using it with the other Salesforce clouds, especially for external-facing use cases. While I can gather some anecdotal stories and learn more at Dreamforce this week, another survey would be needed to get the data necessary to understand how successful Salesforce’s collaboration and content management offerings have been with, and for, the rest of its customers.

Research Agenda of Larry Hawes, Lead Analyst

Greetings! As my colleague Stowe Boyd announced yesterday, I am part of a fabulous group of smart, well-respected people that have joined the rebooted Gigaom Research as analysts. I was affiliated with the original version of Gigaom Research as an Analyst, and am very pleased to be taking the more involved role of Lead Analyst in the firm’s new incarnation, as detailed in Stowe’s post.
For those of you who don’t know me, I’ve spent the last 16 years working as a management and technology consultant, enterprise software industry analyst, writer, speaker and educator. My work during that time has been focused on the nexus of communication, collaboration, content management and process/activity management within and between organizations ─ what I currently call ‘networked business’.
I intend to continue that broad line of inquiry as a Lead Analyst at Gigaom Research. The opportunity to work across technologies and management concepts ─ and the ability to simultaneously address and interrelate both ─ is precisely what makes working with Gigaom Research so attractive to me. The firm is fairly unique in that aspect, in comparison to traditional analyst organizations that pigeonhole employees into discrete technology or business strategy buckets. I hope that our customers will recognize that and benefit from the holistic viewpoint that our analysts provide.
With the above in mind, I present my research agenda for the coming months (and, probably, years). I’m starting at the highest conceptual level and working toward more specific elements in this list.

Evolution of Work

Some analysts at Gigaom Research are calling this ‘work futures’. I like that term, but prefer the ‘evolution of work’, as that allows me to bring the past and, most importantly, the current state of work into the discussion. There is much to be learned from history and we need to address what is happening now, not just what may be coming down the road. Anyway, this research stream encompasses much of what I and Gigaom Research are focused on in our examination of how emerging technologies may change how we define, plan and do business.

Networked Business

This is a topic on which I’ve been writing and speaking since 2012. I’ve defined ‘networked business’ as a state in which an interconnected system of organizations and their value-producing assets are working toward one or more common objectives. Networked business is inherently driven by connection, communication and collaboration, hence my interest in the topic.
While the concept of networked business is not new, it has been gaining currency in the past few years as a different way of looking at how we structure organizations and conduct their activities. As I noted in the first paragraph of this post, there are many technologies and business philosophies and practices that support networked business, and I will do my best to include as many as possible in my research and discussions.

Networks of Everything

This research stream combines two memes that are currently emerging and garnering attention: the Internet of Things and the rise of robots and other intelligent technologies in the workplace. In my vision, networks of everything are where humans, bots, virtual assistants, sensors and other ‘things’ connect, communicate and collaborate to get work done. The Internet, Web, cellular and other types of networks may be used in isolation or, more likely, in combination to create networks of everything.
I’ve had a book chapter published on this topic earlier this year, and I’m looking forward to thinking and writing more about it in the near future.

Microservices

How do we build applications that can support business in a heavily networked environment? While the idea of assembling multiple technology components into a composite application are not new (object-oriented programing and Service Oriented Architecture have been with us for decades), the idea continues to gain acceptance and become more granular in practice.
I intend to chronicle this movement toward microservices and discuss how the atomization of component technology is likely to play out next. As always, my focus will be on collaboration, content management and business process management.

Adaptive Case Management and Digital Experience Management

These two specific, complementary technologies have also been gathering more attention and support over the last two years and are just beginning to hit their stride now. I see the combination of these technologies as an ideal enabler of networked business and early exemplars of component architecture at the application level, not the microservice one (yet).
I’ve written about ACM more, but am eager to expand on the early ideas I’ve had about it working together with DEM to support networked business.

Work Chat

Simply put, I would be remiss to not investigate and write about the role of real-time messaging technology in business. I’ve already called work chat a fad that will go away in time, but it needs to be addressed in depth for Gigaom Research customers, because there are valid use cases and it will enjoy limited success. I will look at the viability of work chat as an extensible computing platform, not just as a stand-alone technology. Fitting with my interest in microservices, I will also consider the role that work chat can play as a service embedded in other applications.
Phew! I’m tired just thinking about this, much less actually executing against it. It’s a full plate, a loaded platter really. The scariest thing is that this list is likely incomplete and that there are other things that I will want to investigate and discuss. However, I think it represents my research and publishing interests pretty  well.
My question is, how does this align with your interests? Are there topics or technologies that you would like to see me include in this framework? If so, please let me know in a comment below. Like all research agendas, mine is subject to change over time, so your input is welcomed and valued.

Review: Mophie Juice Packs for iPhone 6, 6 Plus

To many iPhone owners, Mophie’s Juice Packs are the standard when it comes to handset battery cases. No, Mophie isn’t the only company in this market, but over the past few years, its Juice Pack line has become popular as a way to both protect an iPhone and add extra battery capacity same time. I spent the last week with two of Mophie’s newest cases for the latest iPhones to see if they’re worth the purchase price.

Mophie Juice Pack iPhone 6 and 6 Plus

Mophie loaned me two Juice Packs; one for the [company]Apple[/company] iPhone 6 and one for the iPhone 6 Plus. I have the former handset while my son has the larger phone, and he’s also a former Mophie customer: He bought the Juice Pack for his iPhone 5s and never took the phone out of it.

The Juice Pack for iPhone 6 Plus costs $99.95 and is advertised as adding 60 percent more run-time to your handset. Juice Pack for the iPhone 6 is also $99.95 but doubles your phone’s battery life while there’s also a $119.95 Juice Pack Plus for iPhone 6 for 120 percent of additional battery life. I’ve been testing the latter, which has a 3300 mAh battery, with my iPhone 6 and it certainly works as advertised.

Juice Pack Plus iPhone 6

Normally I get through a full day on my iPhone 6 and have roughly 25 percent of battery remaining. With the Juice Pack Plus, my phone easily lasts for two days, with power to spare. The Mophie case is designed with an integrated Lighting connector but actually recharges with a standard, included microUSB cord. I’ve seen many complaints about that cord being too short and those are addressed: It measures nearly three feet long. Also included is a headphone adapter in case your headset jack doesn’t fit through the case hole.

Juice Pack Plus iPhone 6 parts

To use the case, you slide off the top section, insert your iPhone into the case, ensure that the Lightning port at the bottom of your iPhone aligns with the Juice Pack’s connector, and replace the case top. It’s a snug fit.

Juice Pack Plus Lightning

Although I haven’t dropped my iPhone 6, I feel comfortable that the Juice Pack will protect it; the case is pretty solid, with a rubberized feel, and it covers all of the iPhone’s buttons. It also has a rounded lip near the screen opening so that the front glass of your iPhone doesn’t touch anything when placed faced down.

On the back of the Juice Pack is a switch: Slide it from red to green and the case battery will charge your iPhone’s battery. Slide it back and you save the juice inside the case for later. When charging the Juice Pack with a microUSB cable, it first charges your iPhone — using the Lighting port as a power pass-through — and then smartly charges the internal case battery. Pressing a button on the back of the Juice Pack shows how much power is left in the case via four LED lights.

Juice Pack Plus iPhone 6 LEDK

Overall, I like the functionality Mophie offers here: More power and protection. My son likes it too. Normally he gets close to two full days on a charge; with the Mophie Juice Pack for iPhone 6 Plus, he can use his phone for three days without a recharge.

But I wonder if Apple’s larger phone even needs a battery case.  Sure it’s convenient, but adding a 2600 mAh battery case to an already relatively large phone with 2915 mAh battery just makes it even larger. I personally found the iPhone 6 Plus in Mophie’s case to be pretty unwieldy due to the added size and weight. And if you struggle to put the 6 Plus in a pants pocket without a case, good luck doing with with this case.

Granted this is an extreme comparison but my iPhone 6 looks super skinny and small when sitting on top of the Juice Pack for iPhone 6 Plus.

iPhone 6 on top of Juice Pack iPhone 6 Plus

That being said, it’s a personal choice: If you need more time away from an outlet and don’t mind the added size, the new Juice Packs for iPhone 6 and 6 Plus, available in black, white and gold colors are well worth the look.

My son is already saving up for the iPhone 6 Plus case since the review units are getting returned. I’ll likely stick with what I have: A thin, third-party iPhone 6 case and a portable battery in my bag for those “just in case” situations. Again, just personal preference because the Juice Pack products definitely fit the need of more battery life while protecting your iPhone.

 

Judge says cops can trick you into befriending them on Instagram

In what might be the slowest tech news week of the year, there’s a weird tidbit out of New Jersey. A U.S. District Judge has ruled that cops are allowed to create fake identities on Instagram to follow suspects. As we’ve seen in the past, criminals occasionally post evidence of their crimes on social media applications, and image-heavy Instagram is no different.

The ruling came about after police officers befriended a serial burglar — Daniel Gatson — on Instagram. The person had posted shots of certain wares, described in the opinion as “large amounts of cash and jewelry, which were quite possibly the proceeds from the specified federal offenses.” He protected his Instagram account, so you had to request to follow him to see the content, and the officers created a fake account to get that access.

They used the picture evidence to obtain a search warrant for Gatson’s home. In return, Gatson tried to get the evidence thrown out, saying it violated his Fourth Amendment Rights. The judge wasn’t buying it, because Gatson approved the agent’s friend request. “No search warrant is required for the consensual sharing of this type of information,” the Court said in its opinion.

This is, of course, not the first time that social media and the law have intersected. Agents, officers, and lawyers have used Facebook, Twitter, and other social sites to gather intel and evidence in cases, resulting in varying degrees of public outrage. The DEA was scolded by Facebook this past October after it came to light that the agency had taken an arrested woman’s photos from her phone and used them to create a fake profile in the hopes of gathering intel from her contacts. The case hasn’t gone to trial yet.

In August last year, Oakland prosecutors were able to up a man’s charge from vehicular manslaughter to murder using some of his morbid tweets. Some courts have even ruled that a plaintiff had to hand over his Facebook password to a defendant so content on the site could be used as evidence.

But a legal expert who spoke to Ars Technica about the case said they believe this might be the first incident involving Instagram.

 

Video: Which Zagg keyboard is right for your iPad mini?

I tested both of Zagg’s iPad mini keyboard cases and either is a nice accessory. There’s a difference in typing, however, due to the two sizes. That means you’ll have to figure out if you value portability or a better typing experience when choosing.

CruxSKUNK: A thin iPad keyboard case with a twist

Looking for a wireless iPad keyboard? There are plenty of choices on Kickstarter and this one has a slick feature: The hinge rotates 360-degrees allowing the device to double as a stand for touch input. If you want in, there’s not much time left!

Video look at the useful $15 Blurex Nexus 7 case

Can a $15 tablet case really be any good? After just one day with the Blurex Ultra Slim case for Nexus 7, the answer is yes. Aside from protecting the tablet, it gives full access to all controls and offers three viewing angles in landscape.