Jive Software and Egnyte Sync Up

Enterprise collaboration software provider Jive Software and Egnyte, an enterprise file sync and share vendor, have formed a new partnership and technology integration. According to the press release announcing the deal, mutual customers may now take advantage of a bi-directional sync between the partners’ software that enables the following actions:

  • Collaborate on Egnyte files directly within Jive, with comments synced across both platforms
  • Upload content to Egnyte from Jive
  • Securely access content from mobile devices
  • View files stored in the cloud for easy accessibility, store locally to meet security and regulatory requirements, or sync with a hybrid solution
  • Easily embed links to Egnyte content in Jive’s comment and discussion fields

Egnyte has put together a short video that demonstrates these actions.

Existing, mutual customers may enable the integration at no additional charge, according to Egnyte’s blog post. The two companies are also jointly offering a special promotion to new customers who are looking to use both systems.

Jive Has Other Existing Content Management Integrations

This is not the first integration that Jive has done with a third-party content management vendor. Jive has had long-standing integrations with Alfresco, Box, Google Drive, and Microsoft (Office, Office 365 and Outlook). The Google and Microsoft integrations were built by Jive, without official partnerships being formed.
The joint Alfresco-Jive solution was launched in 2012 and used CMIS to sync documents and content actions between the two systems. Interestingly, Alfresco has a webpage describing the integration and still lists Jive as a Technology Partner, while Jive no longer acknowledges Alfresco as an official partner on its website.
Finally, Jive still has an active technology partnership with Box. Like the Egnyte integration, Jive and Box have built a bi-directional sync that pushes changes made in one system to the other.

Potential Reasons Why Jive Added Another Content Management Partner

While I have not yet spoken with anyone from either Jive or Egnyte, I can lay out some possible explanations for why they partnered and integrated their offerings.
First, the integration may have been done simply because a large number of mutual customers asked for it. That is not an unusual situation in enterprise software, and both Jive and Egnyte listen and respond well to their customers.
This partnership and technology integration may have been proposed and largely built by Egnyte, who is facing stiff competition, as well as feature and price commoditization, in the EFSS market. Partnering with Jive creates a competitive advantage for Egnyte over rivals such as Accellion, Citrix ShareFile, Syncplicity, and others. The comparative quality and depth of the press releases from the two partners suggests that Egynte may well have had the lead here. That impression is underscored by that fact that Egnyte created and published the video demonstration embedded above.
A final, possible explanation is that Jive is looking for an alternative partner to Box, which has moved up the food chain by forming deep technology and go-to-market partnerships with Apple, IBM, and Microsoft. Perhaps Box is now more focused on helping its customers integrate with IBM Connections and Microsoft SharePoint and Office 365 instead of Jive. As a result, Jive would need a more active partner, which it may have found in Egnyte. Another consideration is that Box is a cloud-only service, while Jive’s partnership with Egnyte enables cloud, on-premises, and hybrid joint deployments.

Takeaways

Regardless of the reason(s) for the Jive-Egnyte partnership, it represents a win for their mutual customers, who now have a pre-built integration that enables secure, mobile-friendly content storage, discovery, sharing, and collaboration. This partnership could also have upside for the two vendors, if they can work with the other’s existing customers to sell their own offerings.
This deal also has implications for the collaboration and EFSS market segments. If nothing else, it underscores that the line between the two, which was already quite blurry, is in fact disappearing. Pure-play EFSS vendors, in particular, will have a difficult time sustaining their existing business, much less grow it, as file services continue to be pushed into collaboration platforms. Their last hope to remain independent may rest on the growing uptake of containerized, microservices enterprise computing architectures, in which they can provide cutting edge file services.

The Internet of Things and Networks of Everything

The Internet of Things (IoT) has been a hot topic for several months now, and there are new stories about it in the business and technology press on a daily basis. While it’s easy to view these as hype at worst and vision at best, there is no denying that purveyors of hardware, software and services are dedicating and creating the resources they will use to capitalize on the IoT. Last week alone, there were three announcements that show just how quickly the IoT market is progressing and how big of a business opportunity it is.
On Monday, September 14th, IBM formally launched a distinct IoT business unit and named former Thomas Cook Group CEO Harriet Green as its leader. The new IoT unit is the first significant step by IBM toward delivering on the $3 billion commitment it made to IoT in March. IBM signaled in Monday’s press release that the unit will “soon” number about 2,000 consultants, researchers and developers, who will use IBM’s assets to help customers get up and running on the IoT. Those assets will likely include the Bluemix platform-as-a-service (PaaS), Watson and other analytics software, as well as the MQTT messaging protocol standard for machine-to-machine communication that IBM submitted to OASIS in 2013.
The next day, Salesforce.com used its annual Dreamforce conference as the grand stage on which to unveil its IoT Cloud. This offering has at its core a new “massively scalable”, real-time event processing engine named ‘Thunder’ (to complement Salesforce’s ‘Lightening’ UI framework). IoT Cloud connects IoT resources and Thunder rules-based workflow to route data between them, triggering pre-defined actions. For example, when an individual enters a retail store, a beacon can offer them discounts based on qualification criterion such as loyalty program status and in-store inventory levels. Scenarios such as this will be possible because of IoT Cloud’s integration with the Salesforce Sales, Marketing and Analytics Clouds. IoT Cloud is currently in pilot and is expected to be generally available sometime in the second half of 2016.
While these two announcements are important milestones in the respective organizations ability to help customers connect to and use the IoT, they do not enable them to do so immediately and risk being labeled as more IoT hype. The sheer magnitude of resources assembled for each of these vendors initiatives signals that they believe that the IoT will be both real and profitable in the not-so-distant future.
The final piece of related news from last week underscores that smaller, pure-play vendors are delivering tools that help their customers get on the IoT now. Build.io announced that Flow, its integration PaaS that had been beta released in March, is now generally available. Flow features a drag-and-drop interface that is used to connect IoT elements ─ sensors and other intelligent devices, backend systems, mobile applications and other software ─ into an integrated system. Connections are made at the API level. Like Salesforce’s Thunder, Flow uses rules-based event processing to trigger actions from IoT data. In essence, Build.io is delivering today a critical part of what Salesforce intends to make generally available later this year.

Current State of the Internet of Things and Networks of Everything

These announcements, taken together, mean that the IoT is poised for takeoff. The first sets of user-friendly tools that organizations need to connect IoT nodes, transmit their data and use it to drive business processes are available now, in some cases, or will be coming to market within a year. We are on the cusp of a rapid acceleration in the growth of the market for software underpinning the IoT, as well as the network itself.
This latest batch of IoT announcements from software vendors underscores another thing: the IoT will initially be built separately from enterprise social networks (ESNs). Many organizations, particularly large enterprises, have experimented with ESNs and a few have managed to build ones that are operating at scale and creating value. Those businesses will be turning their attention to IoT development now, if they haven’t already. They will pilot, then scale, their efforts there, just as they did with ESNs.
Eventually, organizations will realize that it is more efficient and effective to build Networks of Everything (NoE), in which humans and machines communicate and collaborate with one another using not only the Internet, but also cellular, Bluetooth, NFC, RFID and other types of networks. This construct is just beginning to enter reality, and it will take a few years before NoE get the market attention that ESNs did five years ago and the IoT is now.
At some future point, when NoE have become a fixture of networked business, we will look back at this month (Sept. 2015) and declare that it was a watershed moment in the development of the IoT. We’ll also laugh at how obvious it seems, in hindsight, that we should have just built NoE in the first place.

Microsoft promotes a borderless world for Office

Nadella’s Microsoft is such a different beast from the old and bad days. The newest wrinkle comes in the form of an announcement by Kirk Koenigsbauer, corporate vice president for the Office team.

Microsoft has enabled third-party storage providers — like Box and Apple iCloud — can natively integrate into the iOS ‘locations’ picker, as you see here:

New-Cloud-storage-integration-for-Office-1

This means I can edit documents stored in Box, iCloud, and Dropbox in Office apps on iOS. This will soon be implemented for Android and Windows Phone.

Microsoft has also instrumented Office Online so that other cloud services can integrate those apps into their services. Box, Citrix, and Salesforce have announced that they are working with Microsoft in the new Cloud Storage Partner Program. So, for example, I would be able to edit a Word document in the context of Citrix ShareFile.

Microsoft has moved from trying to use a closed Office as a strategic means of ensuring Windows loyalty, only a few years ago, to a new stance in which Office is being opened up from all directions. The brand new Microsoft.

 

Does the enterprise marketplace really need a new email solution?

This week, Amazon announced their WorkMail solution as a business-class email and calendaring solution in the cloud. Over the past several years, Amazon has produced some amazing solutions. But is WorkMail something that the enterprise CIO should really take note of? And are we really in need of another email and calendaring alternative? There is a very important lesson to learn here. Read on.

Ask yourself this question: If this press release were launched by a completely different company, say Acme, would it have garnered as much attention and praise? Probably not. So, why are so many interested in this announcement?

New and innovative features?

If you read the details in the press release and on the WorkMail preview site, it is all motherhood and apple pie. Nothing new. Nothing innovative. In fact, many of the touted features are merely table stakes for any email and calendaring solution today. In order to supplant an incumbent, especially something as ingrained as email and calendaring, there needs to be a significant advantage.

Simply stating support for SSL, Active Directory or a Web-client is not going to get anyone excited. Or at least it should not. Those should be table stakes. If, however, you do get excited about those, it may be time to re-think your priorities. Conversely, the absence of those features should immediately garner a no-go.

Cloud-based alternatives?

The argument Amazon is making is really against on-premise email solutions today, namely Microsoft Exchange. The argument is for cloud-based email and calendaring solutions. The irony is that there are two solid, mature solutions in place today: Google Apps and Microsoft 365. There are other cloud-based solutions in the market today, but they are a distant 3, 4, 5, etc behind Google and Microsoft. In addition, WorkMail’s cost is right in line with that of Microsoft and Google. So, why try to compete? What is the advantage?

Enterprise integration

Enterprises are increasingly in need of better integration between solutions. Email, calendaring and file storage are some of the top areas of need. That is why we have seen the Google and Microsoft solutions include these core functions. But integration goes quite a bit further than simply backend integration.

Quite often, companies forget about the users and their perspective. This is one issue Google has faced from day-1. Using Google’s ‘tag’ approach vs. Microsoft’s files/ folders approach in use for years creates a significant learning curve. And that is one reason Microsoft 365 has seen a marked uptick in interest over Google Apps.

Anything in this space that is less than mature is simply an extremely hard sell to any enterprise. It is simply too risky to put email, calendaring and file storage to a less than mature solution. In addition, the integration needs to be solid and robust. It is not clear how/ if WorkMail is able to address this.

Marketing

The only thing I can come back to is marketing. Launching WorkMail is an opportunity for Amazon to garner wider interest and keep their name in the press. If that was their goal, they succeeded based on the number of articles written about WorkMail. If it were WorkMail by Acme, I doubt we would have heard about it.

Keeping your company in the public’s eye with fresh launches is one of several key initiatives. Launching WorkMail certainly does that. But in order to remain of interest, it needs to differentiate itself. In that area, WorkMail has failed. There is another side effect in that the perception will start to question why Amazon is going after such a mature market like email/ calendaring with such a basic offering. It definitely leaves some open questions.

My take

Amazon is heading down a questionable path. Enterprises are not chomping at the bit for a different email and calendaring alternative. They are, however, looking for easier ways to adopt and leverage public cloud solutions. Same goes for service providers.

My advice to Amazon would be to focus on what they do best and not go after email and calendaring. There are still a number of gaps in the public cloud space that could use their expertise and leadership.

No, you really do need a CIO…and now!

For those that follow my writing, this post may have a familiar ring to it. Unfortunately, there is a reason I’m writing about this yet again as the point still eludes many.

The curious case of Acme Inc

Take a recent example for Acme Inc (company name changed). Acme is a mid-sized organization without a CIO. I spoke with the CEO and another member of the executive team that were trying to solve tactical technology and information problems on their own. In this case, Acme is experiencing solid growth of 50% CAGR. They believed they were being strategic in their technology decisions. The truth was far from it. It was painfully apparent they were way out of their wheelhouse, but didn’t realize it. In a way, they were naive that the decisions they were making were locking them into a path where, near-term, the company would not remain competitive. But they didn’t know that. They were looking to solve a technology problem to support their immediate growth trajectory without thoughtfulness of the opportunity. They were also relying too heavily on their technology providers whom they believed had the company in their best interests. Unfortunately, this is not a fictitious story of what could happen to a fictitious company. It is a real situation that occurred with a real company. And sadly it is one of many.

Trust is incredibly important in business today. There is no question. But as one mentor once taught me many years ago: Trust, but verify. In the immortal words of Deming “In God we trust, all others bring data.”

What is a CIO?

What is a CIO and do I need one? This is a question that many chief executives ask as their business evolves. I addressed a similar question about the CDO in ‘Rise of the CDO…do you need one?’ last year.

For small to mid-size enterprises, the conversation is not taking place soon enough. Many are still contemplating how to task the IT manager or director with more responsibility. Or worse yet, the responsibilities are being shared across the executive team. In one example outlined below, the results can be catastrophic.

So, when do you get your first CIO? And if you have a CIO, do you still need one? Isn’t the CIO’s role simply about managing the computers? In a word, no.

Do I need a CIO?

The short answer to this is yes. From small to large enterprises, the need for a CIO is greater today than ever before. Many will see a CIO and their organization as a cost center that eats into the bottom line. If so, that is a very short-sided view. Today’s CIO is very strategic in nature.

More than ever, business relies heavily on technology. But more than the technology itself, it is how it is applied and leveraged that makes the difference. The how relies heavily on context around business value and applicability. It requires someone, the CIO, to make the connection between business value across multiple disciplines and the technology itself.

Can other executives provide this capability? No. They can provide a different caliber of tactical implementation, but not the cross-functional strategic perspective that a CIO brings to the table. And it is this cross-functional strategic perspective that brings significant value to differentiate companies.

Information is the currency of business. It is what drives business decisions that will affect the success and failures across a myriad of dimensions. The CIO is the best position to understand, drive and expose value from information. The value of the information

What does CIO stand for?

This seems like a perennial subject. What does the ‘I’ in CIO stand for? Information? Innovation? Inspiration? Integration? The bottom line is that the I stands for the same thing is has always stood for; Information. Today’s business is driven by information. Technology is simply an enabler to leverage information. Integration, innovation, etc are all functional means to drive the value of information to a company.

If information is gold, what is technology? Technology is similar to the mining and refining equipment to extract and process the gold. Without it, the gold may be discovered, but in small quantities using ineffective means. A major factor in today’s business is speed. Access to information quickly is paramount.

The evolving role of the CIO

The CIO’s role (past and present) is far more complicated that many appreciate. A CIO is really a business leader that happens to have responsibility for IT. In addition, a CIO is really a CEO with a technology focus. A CIO is strategically focused and able to traverse the entire organization at the C-level. That last attribute requires a level of experience very different from the traditional CIO.

In the case of Acme, a CIO would be a great asset moving forward.

Customer service only comes from the top

Customer expectations are rising, but companies are failing to meet them. That’s what the folks at Zendesk are reporting with their latest global customer survey, The omnichannel customer service gap.

In short, customers want a speedy and seamless service experience whether they contact a company by phone, social media, email, chat, or in store. Only 7% are extremely satisfied that brands are providing consistent and integrated service, however; and only half rate the speed of response or resolution as good or excellent. A clear majority of customers in all countries surveyed believe that brands pay more attention to generating sales across channels than to providing integrated customer service.

More than a cost center

Zendesk VP of marketing J.D. Peterson sees this difference as reflective of the traditional business culture that favors sales as a profit center, while customer service is only considered a cost center. But he also sees that changing, with more viewing service as an opportunity to deepen customer relationships and increase sales, and he believes the rise of social media is contributing to that change.

Providing a fully integrated experience for customers across channels—where customer interaction is consistently fast, friendly, and satisfactory, and previous interactions are immediately recognized—is still the exception rather than the rule. Zendesk provides a multichannel service platform that theoretically enables such consistent ‘omnichannel’ support.

Technology ahead of the corporate culture

J.D. still sees only a minority of businesses with online and brick-and-mortar stores fully integrating their multichannel capabilities with their in-store service, although that practice is clearly rising. Likewise, first-tier social media service support is still often handled by the marketing department, where listening platforms were first brought into organizations, rather than by the service department. Just under a quarter of Zendesk customers have enabled the firm’s direct/native Facebook/Twitter integrations, although some have accomplished the same by integrating third-party tools (e.g., Hootsuite, SproutSocial) through Zendesk’s applications platform.

Only from the top

J.D. says that when he sees a high level of integrated customer service, without exception, the CEO or another C-level executive is driving the firm to a customer-focused culture. A good first step toward meeting customer’s rising expectations is the implementation of a multichannel service capability. But to approach the level of integration and consistency that customers are coming to expect, a firm needs to be organized around the customer experience. That vision and commitment must come from the top.

Related Gigaom research:

Sector RoadMap: Social customer service in 2013

Millennials in the enterprise, part 1: strategies for supporting the new digital workforce

Millenials in the enterprise, part 2: benchmarking IT’s readiness for the new digital workforce

REST Hooks and the real-time web

Users have grown accustomed to a real-time web, but now they want an easier-to-implement real-time integration between web services. REST Hooks seems to be the emerging standard for such integration.

Taco is funded on Kickstarter, publicly evolving their privacy policy

Taco is a tool task management tool bridge, pulling together tasks from many task platforms, like Basecamp, Zendesk, Github, and many more (in progress). Many of use have multiple accounts and Taco is intended to pull those all together for us, to provide one (beautiful) place to see them all:
taco-shot-1
I’m glad to see that Taco hit 209% of its Kickstarter funding goal, and is tearing it up already. Apparently the team has a prototype up and running, and has developed two additional connectors: Asana and Trello.
I am looking forward to reviewing the product when released, but I am  inspired by the team’s efforts in a different side of the business: they are developing a public privacy policy, and inviting future users to get involved. Today, it looks like they’ve identified six key issues:

  • Easy data removal — It’s your data, and you should have control over it.
  • Conservative defaults — Taco will deactivate connections over time if you don’t login.
  • Fanatical security — HTTPS everywhere, paranoia about security, never send unencrypted identity data, multiple keys.
  • Real transparency — A commitment to share any security issues wneh they arise.
  • No finger pointing — One throat to choke.
  • Auditable humans — Two real people are the only ones with any sort of access to any private user info, and they will only mess with it on your say so.

Simple, direct and to the point.
I feel good about this team, and the direction they are headed.

In SaaS, you can’t assimilate, so integrate

In the world of Software as a Service, integration is critical. It gets small SaaS providers in front of new potential customers already predisposed to buying cloud-based services, and it gives individual SaaS vendors a fighting chance against large software vendors with lots of products and salespeople.