Wrap-Up of Dream Teams for the Digital Workplace


Can you buy a digital workplace? If you did, what would it do? This five-part series analyzes Gartner Magic Quadrants to envision an architectural landscape for an integrated digital workplace to enable communications, content management, and mobile self-service. The goal is to bring ideas to the table for stakeholder discussions that strike a balance between enterprise integration and best-of-breed capabilities, to guide emerging strategies for digital workplace platforms and workforce enablement.

Part V: Wrap-Up

This section reviews our findings in terms of:

  • Vendor Breadth of Capability
  • Best of Breed
  • Best in Class: Communications, Content, and Mobile Self-Service
  • Can You Pick One Vendor?

So, let’s wrap up. Which platform vendors get a piece of our dream-team digital workplace?

Vendor Breadth of Capability

Since we’re looking to minimize vendors for an integrated platform, let’s start by looking at vendors who appear in at least two Magic Quadrants across the board.

Vendor

1. Leader

2. Challenger

3. Visionary

4. Niche

GMQ Count

Microsoft

6

2

2

1

11

Cisco

6

6

IBM

5

3

8

Avaya

3

1

4

Citrix

3

3

Mitel

3

3

Adobe

2

2

HP

2

2

Lexmark

2

2

OpenText

2

2

SalesForce

1

1

2

ShoreTel

1

1

2

Tibco

1

1

2

Vidyo

1

1

2

VMWare

1

1

2

Best of Breed

Since we need to satisfy a broad range of stakeholders and negotiate best of breed head-to-head, let’s take a second pass with a “win, place, and show” rating in each GMQ. Since Microsoft ranks as the integrated-platform winner with 11 MQ appearances, let’s also compare Microsoft’s ranking to the best-of-breed winners to see what would happen if we traded best-of-breed in that area for deeper UX integration.

Capability

GMQ

Win

Place

Show

Microsoft

Communications

Group Video

Cisco

Polycom

Vidyo

N/A

Communications

Secure Email Gateways (SEG)

ProofPoint

Cisco

Microsoft

1. Leader

Communications

Social Collaboration

Microsoft

IBM

Jive

1. Leader

Communications

Telephony

Cisco

Avaya

Mitel

2. Challenger

Communications

Unified Communications

Microsoft

Cisco

Mitel

1. Leader

Communications

Web Conferencing

Cisco

Microsoft

Adobe

1. Leader

Content

Enterprise Content Management

IBM

OpenText

EMC

1. Leader

Content

Enterprise File Sync and Share

Syncplicity

Citrix

Box

2. Challenger

Content

Enterprise Search

Covea

Sinequa

HP

N/A

Content

Web Content Management

SiteCore

Adobe

Acquia

4. Niche Player

Self-Service

BI and Analytics

Microsoft

Tableau

Qlik

1. Leader

Self-Service

Sales Force Automation

SalesForce

Microsoft

Microsoft

1. Leader

Self-Service

ERP

SAP

IFS

Microsoft

3. Visionary

Self-Service

HR Talent Mgmt

SAP

Oracle

Cornerstone

N/A

Self-Service

Mobility

Airwatch

MobileIron

Citrix

3. Visionary

A communications team looking to rationalize would face the most resistance to a single-vendor strategy with group video and telephony, and would want to evaluate their on-premise needs for video hardware and landline phones against the UC capabilities of Skype for Business. Some degree of Cisco-Microsoft partnership is likely to play out effectively here.

Content teams will find that dedicated website needs and high-end search will drive a multivendor strategy, although both areas are rapidly emerging area for Microsoft and it may well make it onto next year’s MQs. Best-of-breed for EFSS will be a very hard sell to enterprises looking to gain governance control over file sharing, since OneDrive integrates so tightly with email and collaboration workloads.

Mobile self-service will still need to select a back office ERP vendor, especially for HR, but Microsoft Dynamics CRM has both place-and-show in CRM behind SalesForce. Microsoft is still a visionary in mobile device management, although choosing a leading vendor here for best-of-breed MDM would require some integration with communications and content systems.

Best In Class

Next, let’s take a deeper dive into each capability group to look at the best-in-class players in each collection of Magic Quadrants.

Communications

For a communications platform that unifies phone, web, video, and social collaboration, Microsoft with or without Cisco is the clear best-of-breed choice. Microsoft takes first place in social collaboration and unified communications and second place in web conferencing, while Cisco places first in group video and telephony. Enterprises not currently using Cisco may be able to leverage Skype for Business more heavily for telephony, as Microsoft is a strong challenger here. Those looking to replace or upgrade enterprise group video systems will still want to invest in Cisco, Avaya, or Mitel, since Microsoft does not have a pure-play enterprise video offering. However, all three vendors offer strong Microsoft connectors for an integrated user experience.

Content Management

For a content management platform with robust web and mobile experiences, cloud file sharing, and enterprise search, Microsoft may be the best single-vendor choice even if it does not lead in any of the top three spots. They are a leader in ECM and a challenger in EFSS, even though they still rank as a niche player in WCM.

Integrating Office 365 and/or SharePoint on-premise with OpenText or Documentum may provide best-in-class ECM, while high-end web content management will still want to rely on SiteCore or Adobe for polished and branded web publishing experiences.

However, a number of third-party service providers are developing UX layers that dramatically improve the out-of-box SharePoint experience, including Unily, Wizdom, and Beezy. Before developing a custom intranet on SiteCore or Adobe, enterprises would do well to evaluate these “intranet-in-a-box” UX-layer offerings to take advantage of Microsoft’s deep platform integration across core collaboration workloads like email, file sharing, social, and web communications.

Emerging experiences like Delve and the Office Graph are likely to strengthen Microsoft’s market position in search, especially as SharePoint 2016 offers hybrid search of cloud/on-premise CMS as well as a host of third-party search integration connectors. Organizations already invested in Coveo or Sinequa may want to deploy their Microsoft connectors for seamless cross-platform search.

Mobile Self-Service

A true business self-service platform must be mobile and must offer self-service access to business processes and data. Microsoft holds the top spot for BI analytics, due in large measure to its PowerBI tools that take Excel to the next level. Data-centric enterprises will probably want to add Tableau or Qlik to their data warehouse toolset, but will also want to integrate back office SORs with the Microsoft BI stack (probably through SharePoint BCS) to drive decentralized self-service analytics.

ERP self-service will still rely on SAP (SuccessFactors) or Oracle (PeopleSoft) for transactional processes, especially in HR. Both vendors have strong integration capabilities with Microsoft as well as their own suite of mobile apps. Microsoft shops will want to stay put on Dynamics CRM, while SalesForce teams can take advantage of a wealth of connectors and strong mobile support.

Even though Microsoft is a visionary in the mobile device management space, enterprises needing BYOD governance will still want to invest in Airwatch, MobileIron, or Citrix to ensure best-in-class mobile device management for the enterprise.

Can You Pick One Vendor?

Can you pick a single turnkey vendor for an enterprise digital workplace? Microsoft would certainly like you to say yes. Organizations that decide to put all their eggs in a single-vendor basket may be able to get quite far with a Microsoft digital workplace strategy, before running into resistance from group video (Cisco), CMS (OpenText or Documentum), public websites (Sitecore and Adobe), and/or advanced analytics (Tableau or Qlik) reporting on centralized ERP systems. Large or complex enterprises may want to put these scenarios out of scope for a first-phase digital workplace deployment, especially if they are already engaged with a leading vendor.

The cost reduction from replacing one of these best-in-class systems may not deliver short-term ROI for an enterprise that is looking to drive a digital experience for these core workloads of video, CMS, web publishing, and data analytics. Most importantly, disrupting the user experience of these systems may create resistance to change that can hamper an enterprise vision and strategy for digital business.

The temptation to go out and buy a digital workplace platform is a strong one, and Microsoft is driving it hard. However, the organizational change implicit in a single vendor strategy may backfire by placing too much strain on siloed teams that first need to evolve an integrated vision of communications, content, and business self-service for the digital workplace.

Strategy Tips

Working from the middle out can be a useful strategy, by leveraging Office 365 for Skype, Exchange, and OneDrive to accelerate lightweight, agile collaboration that can quickly go viral among widely distributed mobile users. A hybrid or on-premise strategy for SharePoint can provide integration points with key line of business systems that can then go mobile through a collaborative intranet portal for employee services.

One way to negotiate stakeholder consensus could be to agree to replace or retire any existing system that is a Gartner niche player or did not make a Magic Quadrant, while postponing the replacement of existing Leaders, Challengers, and Visionaries until there is a clear business driver for upgrade.

However, since IT cloud infrastructure, cost reduction, and rationalization are such strong business drivers today, many intranet sponsors and IT teams may find themselves pushed toward a single-vendor strategy and caught in the middle with best-of-breed champions vying for their own requirements.

This survey aims to bring some talking points to the table, with an independent analysis of industry research, some predictions for opportunities and challenges, and some tips to think about as you step up to the plate as a vision leader for workplace enablement. Here’s hoping it helps your digital workplace strategy become a dream team.

Mobile Self-Service Dream Teams for the Digital Workplace


Can you buy a digital workplace? If you did, what would it do? This five-part series analyzes Gartner Magic Quadrants to envision an architectural landscape for an integrated digital workplace to enable communications, content management, and mobile self-service. The goal is to bring ideas to the table for stakeholder discussions that strike a balance between enterprise integration and best-of-breed capabilities, to guide emerging strategies for digital workplace platforms and workforce enablement.

Part IV: Mobile Self-Service

This section takes a deep dive into Magic Quadrants that enable mobile self-service:

  • Enterprise Mobility Management
  • Business Productivity
  • BI and Analytics
  • HR Talent Management
  • Sales Force Automation (CRM)
  • Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) for HR and Finance
  • Self-Service Summary

This may feel like a catch-all category, but there is a reason behind this choice of Magic Quadrants. All of them share a mission for workforce enablement: being productive on a mobile device, doing hands-on analytics of real-time data in embedded dashboards, doing the everyday transactional work of core business processes in sales, finance, and HR. A digital workplace is, and must be, mobile, and must enable employee self-service across the enterprise.

Mobile Device Management (MDM)

The business self-service trends for BYOD (Bring Your Own Device) and CYOD (Choose Your Own Device) are strong drivers in this space for enterprises looking to balance mobile experiences with information security, access management, and provisioning. Airwatch by VMWare is the clear leader in the Leaders quadrant, which also includes MobileIron, Citrix, IBM, and Good Technology. SAP is the onlyChallenger in this space, but Microsoft is a Visionary along with Soti and Sophos. Blackberry, Landesk, and Globo are Niche players, but may still be compelling to organizations with investment in Blackberry hardware. However, BYOD and CYOD pressure from business users in a distributed digital workplace are likely to disrupt this market heavily. Organizations looking to deploy a mobile digital workplace may want to consider a hybrid vendor strategy with VMWare or Citrix on top of Microsoft, which provides a seamless user experience through the Office 365 mobile app suite.

Business Intelligence (BI) and Analytics

Business self-service, decentralization, and agility are key trends disrupting the traditional BI market, and digital workplace teams will want to focus on business-facing  analytics tools with strong interactive user experience, integrated with line of business data repositories serving as systems of record. Extranet sharing with customers (and citizens in the public sector) is also a strong business driver that can trigger re-evaluation of data access/security and data quality. Governance capabilities as well as strong visual and interactive experiences should be balanced in selecting BI tools for the digital workplace.

Microsoft, Tableau and Qlik lead the field in the Leaders quadrant, with noChallengers identified. Alteryx, SAS, SAP (Business Objects) and MicroStrategy top a crowded field of Visionaries with a second tier of IBM, ClearStory, Logi, Pentaho, Tibco, and BeyondCore. The Niche players quadrant is even more crowded, with Birst closest to the center and an arrowhead of vendors Domo, GoodData, SalesForce, Pyramid Analytics, Board, Sisense, Information Builders, Yellowfin, Platora, and Datawatch. Enterprises looking to jumpstart the analytics capabilities of a digital workplace would do well to evaluate the self-service Microsoft offerings including PowerBI and Excel Services in SharePoint, while investing in Tableau or Qlik on top of a SOR data warehouse for enterprise reporting.

Sales Force Automation and CRM

In the digital workplace landscape, CRM was one of the very first workloads to go mobile-first andcloud-first, and all but the niche players here have mature online offerings.

SalesForce clearly leads the Leaders quadrant, but Microsoft takes the other two Leader spots with Dynamics CRM cloud (#2) and on-premise (#3).  SAP CRM and NetSuite are Challengers in this space, while SAP for Sales, Oracle, and SugarCRM are the Visionaries. There is a long tail of Niche players Base, CRMNext, Aptean, Zoho, Sage, Bullhorn, Infor, and Tour De Force, mostly aimed at the SMB market.

Bringing Sales back into the fold without sacrificing the user experience will require some outreach from traditional intranet teams, who may find a new sponsor for digital business, extranets, and mobile productivity from leadership poised to drive digital business and e-commerce to customers and partners.

ERP Systems

Postmodern ERP is a technology strategy that automates and links administrative and operational business capabilities (such as finance, HR, purchasing, manufacturing and distribution) with appropriate levels of integration that balance the benefits of vendor-delivered integration against business flexibility and agility.” (Gartner)

In the context of a digital workplace, ERP systems are the corporate systems of record for business processes and data that workers interact with on a daily basis. Integrating communications and content management into these platforms has been underway for some time, both as leading vendors add their own social and ECM capabilities and as ERP vendors announce partnerships with market leaders.

For single-instance ERP systems in midmarket and upper-market companies, Leaders are SAP (Business All-in-One) and IFS Systems. Oracle is twice a Challenger with JD Edwards and Oracle e-Business. Microsoft Dynamics AX is a Visionary along with Epicor. Niche players QAD and Infor (LN and M3) round out the Magic Quadrant.

The next digital workplace frontier for ERP is surfacing self-service process touchpoints to the front office through mobile and responsive web applications. Digital workplace teams will want to bring a mobile-first strategy to the back office by helping ERP teams evaluate native mobile apps from SAP, Oracle, and Microsoft before they commit to heavy process customizations that could require custom mobile development.

HR Talent Management

HR systems are quickly emerging as a key digital workplace capability for mobile self-service to a distributed workforce. The GMQ for Talent Management is dominated by Leaders SAP (SuccessFactors) and Oracle (PeopleSoft) for completeness of vision, and CornerStone OnDemand, which ranks highest in ability to execute. There are no Challengers to these leaders, but a raft of Visionaries coming up fast includes Halogen, Saba, PeopleFluent, SumTotal, and Haufe, with TalentSoft just emerging from a Niche players field of Lumesse, Deltek (HRSmart) and Technomedia.

Self-Service Leaders Summary

Who are the self-service leaders in the digital workplace? There will be three sets of capabilities needed: mobile infrastructure, mobile apps, and access to data. This is the most challenging space to envision, since each group of stakeholders will drive self-service for their own business processes while IT teams struggle to accelerate the cloud infrastructure needed to deliver value. Mobile self-service is a mission-critical end game for digital business, but it will be a long game with lots of players.

Why not do mobile, then do self-service, or vice versa? Many enterprises will do just that. But a mobile-first, cloud-first strategy needs not to tack mobile apps on as an afterthought, or risks needing to reengineer processes that made sense for the hybrid cloud implementation, but aren’t simple enough for a great user experience. Here are some strategy tips to consider.

  • Think beyond the intranet in terms of workforce enablement for self-service
  • Think outside the box by preferring out-of-the-box user experiences to save customization and maintenance costs
  • Plan for BYOD even if your enterprise currently provides mobile device hardware
  • Pick one or two essential business processes to enable for mobile, like time and expense, and use these to test the mobile platform before investing heavily in app development
  • Become a champion for decentralized and self-service analytics for business users
  • Engage compliance and information security teams up front with the digital workplace vision to avoid lockdown of key business data needed to make analytics and transactional processes self-service
  • Don’t pick an “official” mobile platform: your employees will do that for you by using their personal devices with or without corporate approval
  • Look to Sales as a sponsor and champion of mobile intranets for self-service
  • Plan for resistance to self-service from owners of highly secure content like Finance, Legal, and HR Compensation and Performance Management, and engage these teams for internal self-service first

Part V in this series will put it all together and envision a dream-team vendor suite for the digital workplace by examining capability breadth, best-of-breed and best-in-class winners, and the elusive ideal of a turnkey platform.

Content Management Dream Teams for the Digital Workplace


Can you buy a digital workplace? If you did, what would it do? This five-part series analyzes Gartner Magic Quadrants to envision an architectural landscape for an integrated digital workplace to enable communications, content management, and mobile self-service. The goal is to bring ideas to the table for stakeholder discussions that strike a balance between enterprise integration and best-of-breed capabilities, to guide emerging strategies for digital workplace platforms and workforce enablement.

Part III: Content Management

This section takes a deep dive into Magic Quadrants that enable content management:

  • Enterprise file sync and share (EFSS)
  • Enterprise content management (ECM)
  • Web content management (WCM)
  • Enterprise Search
  • Content Leaders Summary

Content management for the digital workplace must be mobile, and must span the entire content management lifecycle from lightweight file sharing to centralized ECM and WCM repositories. Search and discovery are paramount here, as is integration with email and social sharing. Personalization and predictive analytics are differentiators. Finally, a digital workplace CMS must provide robust storage and sharing for rich media, especially video, which also needs to be mobile and searchable. Specialized scenarios like ideation and e-learning should be embedded in the user experience for content creation, curation, and search.

This is a highly competitive and disruptive space. Social collaboration is becoming infrastructure that take conversations from mobile app to desktop client to web browser. Web content management needs to deliver e-commerce with responsive design. Everyone’s on information overload, and everyone thinks search is broken.

No single vendor appears in more than one of the top three spots across the four capabilities of EFSS, ECM, WCM, and search. A broad range of capability requirements make it highly unlikely that a single vendor could meet the needs of most midsize to large enterprises, even under significant cost pressure to rationalize and consolidate. Integration connectors and strong identity management from IT, and business requirements for cross-platform user experience, will be the key opportunities for success in digital workplace content management.

Enterprise File Sync and Share (EFSS)

Four vendors dominate the Leaders quadrant: for now. Syncplicity leads in completeness of vision and Citrix in ability to execute, while Box and Accelion make strong showings. Microsoft, Google, and Dropbox are key Challengers in EFSS, and their platform integration with social software, web content management and enterprise search capabilities make these vendors compelling for organizations seeking a turnkey user experience for the digital workplace. Visionaries Egnite and WatchDox by Blackberry don’t quite match the Leaders’ completeness of vision. A string of niche players includes Huddle, Airwatch by VMWare, Intralinks, Acronis, Ctera, Varonis, and Thru.

Gartner warns that “by 2018, less than 10% of today’s stand-alone EFSS offerings will exist.” EFSS, like social collaboration, is destined to become an infrastructure feature of the digital workplace.

Enterprise Content Management (ECM)

The Leaders field has a close-running pack led by IBM and OpenText for ability to execute, with EMC (Documentum), Lexmark, Hyland, Microsoft, and Oracle ranked by completeness of vision. There are no Challengers in the ECM space, but Xerox, Alfresco, and Newgen are closely matched Visionaries. ECM has a long tail of Niche players led by Lasersoft, Fabasoft, Everteam, and N-Files, SER Group, Upland, Systemware, Objective, Software Innovation, and Siav.

Enterprises with heavy ECM investment in IBM, OpenText, and Documentum may want to evaluate these deployments to see whether their centralized function as SORs may be evolving into more lightweight and agile collaboration, which could suggest hybrid ECM scenarios with Microsoft Office 365 and SharePoint. EMC offers a Documentum connector for SharePoint, as does IBM for IBM Connections, and there are also a full suite of options for OpenText integration with SharePoint. The landscape for hybrid cloud/on-premise deployments is rapidly evolving, and an integrated multivendor strategy may be effective for intranet teams with a heavy investment in non-Microsoft systems for centralized ECM.

Web Content Management (WCM)

Web content management is emerging as a differentiator in enterprise content management, especially for digital business in customer experience for the web and mobile. This GMQ has a strong Leaders quadrant led by Sitecore and Adobe running neck and neck. Acquia (Drupal) and Oracle are next in line, followed closely by HP, OpenText, IBM, and SDL, with EPIServer squeaking into the Leaders quadrant on completeness of vision but the lowest ability to execute. There are no Challengersat all in this GMQ, and the three Visionaries Automatic, CrownPeak, and CoreMedia suffer from lower scores in ability to execute. Microsoft is still considered aNiche player in WCM, though the closest to a Challenger in this area. Other Niche players include Progress, Hippo, e-Spirit, Squiz, GX Software, and eZ Systems. Gartner cautions that “any dedicated, focused WCM effort is disappearing as Microsoft pushes customers toward the cloud and Office 365.”

This may suggest a multivendor approach to customer-facing intranet vs. employee intranets, for example building the public website on Sitecore or Adobe while moving toward Microsoft for an integrated digital workplace. Sitecore was Microsoft’s Alliance ISV Partner of the Year for 2013 and 2014, so there is a strong business case for a two-vendor partnership there. However, IBM intranet teams may want to consider sunk costs and the cost of replatforming carefully, as Gartner advises that “IBM Web Content Manager has a nearly exclusive appeal for fully devoted IBM shops.”

Enterprise Search

Enterprise search is a highly disruptive market, as a highly consumerized user experience shifts from explicit queries to personalization, digital assistants, and discovery driven by machine learning and predictive analytics.

In this content, Microsoft’s complete absence from this GMQ is surprising, especially in a Leaders quadrant driven by Coveo, Sinequa, HP, Lexmark, and Attivio. LucidWorks and Mindbreeze lead the ability to execute among Challengersthat also include Google and Dassault Systems. IHS, IBM, and BA Insight areVisionaries in the enterprise search space, while Niche players Squiz, Expert Systems, and Recommind trail the field significantly.

Perhaps the most compelling insights from this GMQ are the predictions made in the strategic planning assumptions. “By the end of 2017, 25% of workers will engage with search technology in business applications via natural expression at least five times a day. By the end of 2017, the best result for more than 50% of searches at leading global companies will not be a textual document. By the end of 2019, more than 10% of internal search results will not originate from explicit queries.”

Integrating a more personalized document search with line of business data and video results would seem to be the key business driver here, and Microsoft’s Office Graph and SharePoint/O365 hybrid search are worth serious consideration for intranet teams, even though the vendor did not make the  GMQ for search. Coveo and Sinequa offer Microsoft connectors including SharePoint on-premise and online, Exchange, OneDrive, and Yammer, so an integrated best-of-breed search experience is possible for enterprises with an investment in these market leaders.

Content Leaders Summary

Who are the content leaders in the digital workplace? Content management is the most challenging space for competing best-of-breed vendors. In the early days of a focused content vision to unify the digital workplace, a multivendor strategy may be not only politic but necessary.

In the absence of a business sponsor for content management, Microsoft often winds up being a “good enough” vendor for IT teams who prefer single-vendor platforms. Microsoft is a Leader in ECM and a Challenger in EFSS, and emerging capabilities like Delve and the Office Graph give it a compelling story in search, especially where lots of content is stored in SharePoint.

Organizations where content management is widely decentralized may need to form a business ECM steering committee outside of IT for internal discussion before a clear content strategy presents itself.  Here are some strategy tips to consider.

  • Different vendor platforms for public internet sites and intranet/extranet sites may be most effective
  • Best-of-breed ECM requirements may create change resistance to more agile collaboration
  • Do some process mapping across email, file sharing, teamsites, and web portals to find out where content travels during its lifecycle
  • Expect EFSS to emerge as the first content workload for a digital workplace beyond the intranet, and expect it to be owned by IT until a business sponsor steps up to own it
  • Bring mobile productivity apps onto the radar as an example of the digital workplace for content management
  • Intranet teams can and should partner with IT for governance of EFSS and mobile UX
  • Become a champion of enterprise search and metadata management for the intranet
  • Be patient with IT when it comes to content strategy, as communications infrastructure and ERP self-service may take priority on enterprise cloud roadmaps
  • Expect ECM disruption as document-centric business processes move to the cloud and/or to lightweight collaborative file sharing
  • Sponsor productivity apps as a grassroots way to move forward while corporate intranets may find themselves in a holding platform waiting for hybrid cloud implementations

Part IV in this series will cover the Magic Quadrants for mobile self-service: enterprise mobile device management, BI and analytics, sales force automation, ERP systems, and HR talent management.

Communications Dream Teams for the Digital Workplace


Can you buy a digital workplace? If you did, what would it do? This five-part series analyzes Gartner Magic Quadrants to envision an architectural landscape for an integrated digital workplace to enable communications, content management, and mobile self-service. The goal is to bring ideas to the table for stakeholder discussions that strike a balance between enterprise integration and best-of-breed capabilities, to guide emerging strategies for digital workplace platforms and workforce enablement.

Part II: Communications

This section takes a deep dive into Magic Quadrants that enable communications:

  • Unified Communications (voice/video/IM/screensharing)
  • Secure Email Gateways (SEG)
  • Corporate Telephony
  • Web Conferencing
  • Group Video
  • Social Software in the Workplace
  • Communications Leaders Summary

Telecommunications is so essential to the digital workplace that it has become transparent. Workers switch without thinking from email to cell phone to social to instant message to video call. Too often intranets and messaging teams are disjoint, so that bringing unified communications and social sharing to the intranet is the first and most obvious step from intranet to digital workplace. Vendors in this space must not only deliver best-in-class email, conferencing, messaging, presence, telephony, group video, and social networking, but must make multimodal communications effortless everywhere.

Leaders that appear in two or more quadrants of the Communications group include Cisco, Microsoft, Mitel, and IBM. However, a broad range of capability requirements make it highly unlikely that a single vendor could meet the needs of most midsize to large enterprises, even under significant cost pressure to rationalize and consolidate. Integration connectors and strong identity management from IT, and business requirements for cross-platform user experience, will be the key opportunities for success in digital workplace communications.

Unified Communications

Gartner distinguishes two markets in the unified communications space, one for large enterprises and one for small to midsize businesses of under 1000 employees and/or $1 billion. UC encompasses telephony, conferencing, messaging, presence and IM, unified clients for desktop and mobile, and integrating communications into business applications and processes. This last is the key touchpoint between UC and intranets for a digital workplace, even though UC may have been outside the scope of a more traditional intranet team. Mobility is a key differentiator in unified communications, and digital workplace teams will want to ensure that they select a UC vendor with strong capabilities in MDM and enterprise mobility.

For large enterprises, Cisco (WebEx) and Microsoft (Skype for Business) drive the Leaders quadrant, with Microsoft in the lead for ability to execute and Cisco for completeness of vision. Avaya and Mitel are a second tier of Leaders, much closer in ability to execute to Challengers ALE and NEC. IBM and ShoreTel are unexpected Visionaries in the space, while Niche players Unify, Huawei, and Interactive Intelligence bring up the rear. In the midmarket space, Cisco and Mitel are the Leaders with Avaya and ShoreTel. NEC is a Challenger for small to midsize businesses, but Microsoft has moved into the Visionary spot along with Unify. Digium, Toshiba, and Interactive Intelligence trail the field of Niche players.

Customers already invested in Cisco or Mitel may want to stay put, but large and even midsize enterprises looking to consolidate digital workplace vendors should evaluate their current platforms head-to-head against Skype for Business. Microsoft’s broader user experience for integrated communications is worth a look before (re)committing to a standalone UC provider. Microsoft’s deep UX integration across digital workloads for content and self-service can easily outweigh a best-of-breed business case for communications. The single most effective move for intranet teams looking to define their role as digital workplace leaders may be to step up to the plate as a business sponsor of Skype for Business as a communications complement to intranet publishing.

Secure Email Gateways (SEG)

Email is still the communications backbone of any enterprise. Secure email gateways (SEGs) are the firewall for corporate email networks, providing basic message transfer agent functions; inbound filtering of spam, phishing, malicious and marketing emails; and outbound data loss prevention (DLP) and email encryption. Corporate email is a highly mature market, and as a deeply embedded part of IT infrastructure, email may be one of the most difficult areas for front-office digital workplace teams to influence. However, the drive to cloud infrastructure will bring email into the unified communications space from the back end, so business leaders will want to keep close tabs on the cloud email roadmap emerging from IT and align it with a digital workplace vision.

Proofpoint is the Leader of choice for the most advanced cybersecurity backed by machine learning, while Cisco leads Microsoft in the rest of the Leaders quadrant for corporate email. Symantec is a lone Challenger in the email space, edging toward Microsoft. Among Visionaries, Intel Security and Trend Micro improve on Microsoft’s completeness of vision, while Mimecast, Websense, and BEA Systems cannot match Microsoft’s ability to execute. A long tail of Niche players includes Barracuda, Sophos, Clearswift, Fortinet, Dell, Trustwave and Watchguard.

Best of breed is highly unlikely to be a business driver in such a mature market, where change resistance can be expected. With identity management and single sign-on coming to the fore as must-have digital workplace infrastructure, Microsoft Azure Active Directory and Exchange Online define a clear path to email in the cloud. A clear IT roadmap for identity management, including user profile integration with HR systems of record, will be key to the success of any major overhaul of the email backbone. On the business side, continued focus on a digital workplace vision can help drive change in what will likely be a protracted infrastructure upgrade.

Corporate Telephony

The telephone is a mission-critical, yet often invisible, piece of digital workplace infrastructure. Web communications like VoIP and group video complement mobile phones for multimodal communications, and it can be tempting to cut the cord on landline PBX systems entirely. However, the uptime and reliability of corporate telephony make it necessary, especially for large enterprises, to continue to invest in landline telephony as core infrastructure. Key requirements include very high availability, analog support for faxes, modems, and service outside Ethernet-available locations, emergency services, support for automated and human attendants, and tight integration with UC providers and services. Again, Cisco leads the Leaders field followed by Avaya and Mitel. Microsoft is the strongestChallenger in this space, along with NEC and ALE. Unify is the only Visionary, and Huawei the sole Niche player.

Microsoft partners like AT&T, British Telecom, HP, Orange Business Services, Verizon and others deliver a combined Lync and Office 365 service as a complete unified hosted offering for corporate telephony in the cloud, and Microsoft and Cisco are going head-to-head for this market. This may drive disruption among organizations where IT communications is managed by an infrastructure team and collaboration by an applications team, with a platform divide between Cisco and Microsoft. Strong business sponsorship from a digital workplace group will be necessary to bridge this gap, especially in cost reduction scenarios that pit telephony vendors, and their IT teams, against each other in a zero-sum game. Bringing telephony leadership to the table for a user-centered digital workplace vision and strategy session will be mission-critical to platform decisionmaking.

Web Conferencing

Web conferencing is a key standalone capability within unified communications, and has its own Magic Quadrant. Web conferencing is a core capability for the digital workplace, and integrating multichannel user communications into mobile and collaboration workflows is a key to success. As in the broader UC Magic Quadrant, Cisco and Microsoft lead the Leaders pack along with Adobe, joined by IBM, Citrix, and AT&T. Google is a lone Challenger in web conferencing with Google Hangouts, which may be most compelling for small to midsize businesses invested in Google for Business for collaboration and file sharing. The Visionaries field is crowded with startups like Vidyo, Zoom, and Fuze along with established players PGI and West UC Services, while Niche players distinguish themselves with Blackboard for the education market, LogMeIn with freemium product join.me, and Arkadin as an emerging offering from Japanese giant NTT Communications.

Again, a broader vision and strategy must guide a digital workplace roadmap that could easily fragment into best-of-breed vendor selection. Enterprises where Cisco or Citrix are deeply embedded may want to pick their battles here, and continue with a multivendor strategy in the short term that uses WebEx or GoToMeeting for formal web conferencing, while leveraging Skype for Business for informal peer-to-peer sharing within Office 365. Organizations that have layered web conferencing on top of older intranet and collaboration platforms, especially SharePoint on-premise, may want to re-evaluate even the visionary players, and certainly niche players, for ROI against a Skype For Business bundle with Office 365.

Group Video

Group video conferencing is a higher-end version of web conferencing that can connect mobile users in a digital workplace to physical meeting rooms with dedicated hardware and room systems. Cisco is the clear front runner in a Leadersfield that also ranks Polycom and Vidyo solidly as market leaders. There are noChallengers in this space and only one Visionary, Life-size. Niche players Huawei, Avaya, Smart and ZTE barely register on other Magic Quadrants, making them less suited to an integrated digital workplace with unified communications. Since Microsoft does not figure in this specialized Magic Quadrant, enterprises with high-end group video and VR meeting room needs will want to layer Cisco, Polycom, Vidyo, or LifeSize on top of intranet and self-service platforms, especially SharePoint on-premise without Office 365.

Social Software in the Workplace

Microsoft (Yammer/SharePoint) leads the Leaders quadrant, followed closely by IBM (Connections/Verse) and Jive with strong showings by SalesForce (Chatter) and Tibco (Tibbr). Challengers VMWare (SocialCast), Atlassian (Confluence), and Sitrion are pushing close to the leaders’  completeness of vision, but lack the ability to execute of all the leaders except Tibco, which trails the leaders’ quadrant. SAP (SuccessFactors/Jam) and Google (Apps for Work) are strong Visionaries in the space, with a completeness of vision that rivals the leaders and an ability to execute that almost pushes them into the Leaders quadrant. Niche players Huddle, Igloo, Liferay, and Zyncro Tech cannot match either the completeness of vision or the ability to execute found in the Challengers and Visionaries, although Huddle comes the closest.

Social is the linchpin between communications and content. The market is moving rapidly beyond standalone enterprise social networks into embedded experiences that make social just another unified communications channel. Microsoft holds the winning hand with the widespread dominance of Active Directory for employee profiles. Azure A/D integration with Exchange Online and Yammer, not to mention Skype for Business/Lync and SharePoint, gives Microsoft a very deep hand in this game.

Enterprises with successful social communities on Jive, Chatter, Tibbr, or SAP Jam are in a position to pursue a multivendor strategy, since all of these vendors have SharePoint connectors. Google is more of an either/or scenario, since Google’s integrated ecosystem can match or beat Microsoft for digital agility and consumer adoption. IBM is in a similar situation, best suited to all-in-one IBM shops. VMWare and Atlasssian teams will want to look to the broader communications and content roadmap, as well as mobile self-service before building a true digital workplace on these platforms.

UC teams committed to Cisco with widespread Jabber adoption may still decide to capitalize on their success, focusing their strategy on user experience and adoption rather than forcing a vendor confrontation with Yammer for infrastructure and cost reasons. Integrated user experience is more important in this space than best-of-breed vendor ranking, even outside the Magic Quadrant. If social communications ain’t broke, don’t fix it! And don’t try to upgrade it before engaging end users and studying any organic social networks already in place. Standalone social strategies are unlikely to survive the next five years of digital workplace planning.

Communications Leaders Summary

Who are the communications leaders in the digital workplace? When working with Cisco, Microsoft, Mitel, IBM, and probably several visionaries or niche players, here are some strategy tips to consider.

  • No single-vendor platform will meet the broad communications capabilities needed in the digital workplace
  • User profiles and single sign-on are core infrastructure that may take several phases to implement
  • Layering and integrating visionaries and challengers into market leaders is a reasonable and viable strategy
  • Mobility is a key differentiator in unified communications
  • Intranet teams should step up as business owners of Skype for Business, WebEx, or GoToMeeting
  • Cloud infrastructure and security, not user experience, will drive email platform upgrades
  • Bring telephony leaders to the table for digital workplace vision to avoid zero-sum platform conflicts
  • Social is the linchpin between communications and content
  • Messaging infrastructure and application teams need to partner for social collaboration
  • Standalone social networks are maturing into just another embedded communications channel
  • Integration connectors and identity management are key components of a successful roadmap

Part III in this series will cover the Magic Quadrants for content management: enterprise file sync and share (EFSS), enterprise content management (ECM), web content management (WCM), and enterprise search.

Dream-Team Platforms for the Digital Workplace


Can you buy a digital workplace? If you did, what would it do? This five-part series analyzes Gartner Magic Quadrants to envision an architectural landscape for an integrated digital workplace to enable communications, content management, and mobile self-service. The goal is to bring ideas to the table for stakeholder discussions that strike a balance between enterprise integration and best-of-breed capabilities, to guide emerging strategies for digital workplace platforms and workforce enablement.

Part I: Overview

This section gives an introduction and an overview of each part in the series.

Major vendors like Microsoft, Cisco, IBM, Google, and SAP are all driving cloud and hybrid platforms for a digital workplace. This seamless user experience for communications, content, and self-service moves beyond traditional intranets and extranets to transform the future of work for the mobile consumer in digital business.

Let’s imagine that you, an intranet manager from internal communications or HR, or the business relationship manager from IT, have been given a charter to research and propose the enterprise platform for your enterprise digital workplace. IT and Finance leaders will address infrastructure cost and licensing, but the assumption is that some if not all infrastructure will move to the cloud. Your mission as a business sponsor is to select the fewest possible vendors who have the ability to execute on a complete vision for your new digital workplace. Your charter will extend the intranet into new realms, and change your role(s) in the company as a digital business platform owner and transformation steward.

You are looking for a seamless user experience with a mobile-first, cloud-first strategy. You want to simplify IT infrastructure and drive enterprise agility while providing the best possible productivity experience to your business users. You want a platform that will be quickly deployed and easily adopted, and you’re willing to accept some one-time costs for consolidation and migration to drive a future-proof platform vision for the next five years of your digital workplace. What would you recommend?

Gartner Magic Quadrant research is a compact and consistent way to compare vendors across the many capabilities needed in the digital workplace. This five-part series reviews Magic Quadrants for three core digital workplace functions, and envisions a dream-team platform for the ultimate digital workplace.

Part II: Communications

  • Unified Communications (voice/video/IM/screensharing)
  • Secure Email Gateways (SEG)
  • Corporate Telephony
  • Web Conferencing
  • Group Video
  • Social Software in the Workplace
  • Communications Leaders Summary

Part III: Content

  • Enterprise file sync and share (EFSS)
  • Enterprise content management (ECM)
  • Web content management (WCM)
  • Enterprise Search
  • Content Leaders Summary

Part IV: Mobile Self-Service

  • Enterprise Mobility Management
  • Business Productivity
  • BI and Analytics
  • HR Talent Management
  • Sales Force Automation (CRM)
  • Enterprise Resource Management (ERP) for HR and Finance
  • Self-Service Leaders Summary

Part V: Dream Team for the Ultimate Digital Workplace

  • Vendor Breadth of Capability
  • Best of Breed
  • Best in Class: Communications, Content, and Mobile Self-Service
  • Can You Pick One Vendor?

A vendor not mentioned in a particular section did not make the Magic Quadrant for that section, even if it may appear on other Magic Quadrants. The introduction to each section highlights the GMQ leaders overall for that group of capabilities.

This independent research was conducted without a Gartner subscription, using GMQ reports licensed for distribution by Gartner or by leading vendors. The author is unaffiliated with Gartner or with any vendor.

Digital Workplace and Intranet Tools at Microsoft Ignite 2015


Microsoft’s annual conference is a smorgasbord of intranet content, but sometimes you can get lost in the tech talk directed to back office IT pros. Here’s a team productivity roundup for the front office of key sessions that highlight the capabilities of Microsoft platform tools to enable the digital workplace for next-generation intranets and extranets.

This Storify story saves you search time by organizing Ignite 2015 sessions on:

  • Enabling Agile teams
  • Mobile
  • Communications
  • Social Collaboration
  • Portals
  • Content Creation & Management
  • File Sync & Share
  • Search
  • Hybrid Deployments
  • Security
  • Planning & Best Practices

View the story “Digital Workplace and Intranet Tools at Microsoft Ignite 2015” on Storify

Big Idea 2016: Digital Business Is A Thing

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So what is digital business, and is it even A Thing? I’d say yes, it is definitely A Thing. LinkedIn has called for #BigIdeas2016, so here’s my entry. You can see the trends by exploring my deck What’s the Buzz About the Digital Workplace? That deck was informed by a summer sabbatical of voracious reading and industry research, and I’m ready to share my growing digital bibliography of long-form content with those looking to get your heads around the New Year’s Big Ideas.

I chose Goodreads as my ECM platform for digital books, because their customer ratings feature makes it easy to track trends on what books are influential and being widely reviewed, and because I can rate books directly from my Kindle. I found books to review on GoodReads itself, Amazon Search, social media (Twitter and LinkedIn) and web searches on relevant keywords.

Read on for a roundup of Must-Reads and What’s Hot in long form content for digital business.

This first cut focuses on the vision and strategy for digital business, industry trends in the space, and on two key business processes at the core of the organizational change and transformation to a digital workplace: Agile project and portfolio management andsocial collaboration.

My reading list is also expanding into the other Nexus of Forces topics known as SMAC (social, mobile, analytics, cloud). Current reading in mobile, analytics, and cloud suggests that these areas are changing so rapidly that web content (like blogs, infographics, and white papers) are better vehicles than books in this space right now. Watch my Twitter feed for quick hits on #mobile, #bigdata, and #cloud as well as #digitalworkplace, #social, #collaboration, and #Agile.

My Review Strategy

Books on each digital shelf are sorted by the overall average rating of all readers, so it’s easy to spot trends. I (usually) rate books as I read them, and give a book a five-star rating if I recommend it as a must-read. Four stars means it’s worth a place in my reference library, and three stars means I enjoyed it and found it worthwhile. Two stars means there was some value to having read it, and one star means I didn’t find it useful or valuable, and wouldn’t bother referring it to a colleague. However, since these shelves are organized by topic, you may find some low-star ratings where I’m tracking what I’ve found and reviewed.

I also choose an overall Read-It-First pick in each category. If you only have time for one book, start here. I’ve read some of them twice, they’re good.

Digital Workplace Vision and Strategy

The Digital Workplace Vision and Strategy shelf collects books that define the core concepts of a digital workplace and digital business, and highlights the key opportunities and threats to this new paradigm for the future of work.

If you have no idea what “the digital workplace” is, or you doubt that it’s even A Thing, this shelf is for you.

LYNN’S READ-IT-FIRST PICK: Paul Miller, The Digital Workplace: How Technology is Liberating Work.

Innovation and Global Industry Trends

The Innovation and Global Industry Trends shelf presents books about the ideas and process of innovation in general, and 21st century IT innovation for digital business in particular.

If you want to think more broadly about why innovation is A Thing right now and what transformations lie ahead, start here.

LYNN’S READ-IT-FIRST PICK: Leading Digital: Turning Technology into Business Transformation

Organizational Transformation and Change Management

The Organizational Transformation and Change Management shelf showcases the soft-skills side of making the leap to digital business. These works describe the scope and shape of the changing digital world, what benefits and challenges it entails, and strategies for leading, driving, and adopting new paradigms.

To learn what digital business means for you as a worker—especially what to expect and how to stay employed in a digital world—start here.

LYNN’S READ-IT-FIRST PICK: Analogosaurus: Avoiding Extinction in a World of Digital Business

Agile Project/Portfolio Management

The Agile Project/Portfolio Management shelf highlights books that speak to *how* change is coming, and how organizations are managing the projects that orchestrate that change. Agile, Scrum, and Kanban have emerged as industry-standard process frameworks to pick up the pace and cope with the volume, velocity, and variety of digital data and real-time, automated, yet personalized business processes.

If you’re involved with a project to enable the digital workplace, especially if you’re up to your eyeballs and wondering why your management strategies seem to be slipping along with your timelines—start here.

LYNN’S READ-IT-FIRST PICK: Scrum: The Art of Doing Twice the Work in Half the Time

Social Collaboration

The Social Collaboration shelf offers books that get down to the nitty-gritty of digital communication: it’s social, and it’s collaborative. You simply can’t communicate if you’re working in isolation or in send-only mode. And communication is what digital business is all about, literally at light speed.

If you wonder why you’re on permanent information overload, why everyone (else) seems to think they’re in charge, and what you can do about it—start here.

LYNN’S READ-IT-FIRST PICK: Here Comes Everybody: The Power of Organizing Without Organizations

Join the Conversation

I invite you to comment on this post with books that speak to you on these topics. Sign up for Goodreads and rate these books. Start your own lists and share them with me, and on your own blog. Most of all, make the time to read, really READ, and think about what you’re reading, not just skim or scan titles and bullet points.

Digital business is something new, and something really big. It takes long form content to develop these ideas, and one measure of how big  this concept is, is how much is being written about digital business.

More importantly, only you can take your time as a reader and a thinker to get your head around what’s changing and why, how change affects you, and what you want to do in a digital workplace.

One thing is certain—the future is digital. So fire up your Kindle or your Nook on the plane, or pick up the Audible edition to listen to in the car, and upload some of this content between your ears. Because books are digital, and mobile, now too, so ideas are easier to share. It’s A Thing, and a good one too.

PMO In Wonderland: The Red Queens’ Effect on Innovation in IT

alice_queen2

Every IT project manager knows where a project starts: with a project charter, business requirements, and a project plan. Developers and testers are trained to turn these deliverables into software systems for deployment. Trainers and user support teams take great care to instruct users on how to use the new system to follow the company’s new business processes. This organizational change is usually exactly what the new system was designed to manage.

down_the_rabbit_holeAnd over it all, the Project Management Office provides process and policy frameworks, governance, and status reporting to drive the software development lifecycle that powers the value chain of business process to drive scope, time, and cost in tandem. Project and portfolio management (PPM) is the engine of IT.

SDLC Through the Looking Glass: The End of Project Management As We Know It

But the drive for innovation has turned the software development lifecycle inside out and back to front. The users are in charge, not IT, and sometimes it seems no one has told the PMO—or that the inmates are running the asylum. The global innovation lifecycle can turn the most Agile SDLC into a real-time spin cycle that can overwhelm the most organized PMO.

Why do so many IT projects go down the rathole? It’s a rabbit hole to Wonderland.

The rallying cry of “innovation” can transform a project management office into a dystopian Wonderland, where new teams of players can lock business relationship management into stalemate on a bizarre Looking Glass chessboard. Two key new forces are at play, like the two disruptive characters in Alice in Wonderland and Through the Looking Glass. Let’s call them the Red Queen and the Queen of Hearts.

The Red Queen Effect: Relentless Innovation Before Breakfast

alice_queen2

“The Victorian mathematician and fantasist Lewis Carroll used the character of the Red Queen to parody grotesque forms of reasoning and energy: believing impossible things (before breakfast), running to remain stationary.

Believing the impossible, accelerating and relentless change – these are now among the totems of innovation. The Red Queen has now become an icon for a certain kind of energetic innovation.” — Richard Veryard, “The Red Queen Effect,” 2005

The Red Queen Effect has been recognized for ten years, and yet many (if not most) IT departments have never heard of it. Like Alice, an IT worker often “believes that the world is orderly and stable, and has an insatiable curiosity about their surroundings. Wonderland challenges and frustrates her perceptions of the world.” (SparkNotes, Alice in Wonderland)

Innovation is a Wonderland of new technologies that delight the insatiably curious technologist. Yet digital business challenges the very perceptions of the technology-centric world of departmental IT. Innovation frustrates the core IT understanding of how to deliver on its mission: through project and portfolio management. The Red Queen Effect can and will overtake the PMO, and an emerging Queen of Hearts Effect can and will behead PPM leaders.

The Queen of Hearts Effect: Change Resistance and Backlash

What happens when IT doesn’t run fast enough? First confusion and conflict, then “Off with their heads!” says the executive sponsor, or worse, the CEO. I call it the Queen of Hearts Effect. It describes a frantic, then frozen resistance to change triggered by fear and anxiety. The Queen of Hearts Effect can paralyze a well-meaning project team until it is unable to accelerate to meet the Red Queen’s demands for change.

alice_par_john_tenniel_28

“A large rose-tree stood near the entrance of the garden: the roses growing on it were white, but there were three gardeners at it, busily painting them red. Alice thought this a very curious thing.“

“Why the fact is, you see, Miss, this here ought to have been a RED rose-tree, and we put a white one in by mistake; and if the Queen was to find it out, we should all have our heads cut off, you know. So you see, Miss, we’re doing our best, afore she comes, to–‘

“The players all played at once without waiting for turns, quarreling all the while, and fighting for the hedgehogs; and in a very short time the Queen was in a furious passion, and went stamping about, and shouting `Off with his head!’ or `Off with her head!’ about once in a minute.” (Alice in Wonderland)

As a companion meme to the Red Queen Effect, the Queen of Hearts Effect can produce a revolving door of CIOs and PMO leaders that leaves the frozen middle of IT management

“…managing the company as it is, or as it was, with a distrust of leadership, a reluctance to embrace change, and conflicting roadmaps towards “building the company of the future.”

(Jonathan Byrnes, The Red Queen Effect, 2005)

Without warning, a project team can suddenly find themselves whitewashing a thorny project that has somehow become a mistake, with no reason or explanation. Even the most Agile Scrum can turn into a quarrelsome fight to figure out which milestone to hit next, as requirements and deliverables seem to turn as prickly as hedgehogs and to get up and wander away on their own. Executive sponsors resort to shouting and stamping about, for the simple reason that nothing else seems to work. And too soon, it’s “off with their heads!” and the whole game starts again with new players—or on a new playing field entirely.

As the old PPM saying goes, “it’s all about execution — making sure it’s not yours.” The Queen of Hearts effect is a powerful motivator. But too often, what this threat is motivating is further resistance to change.

Off With Their Heads! Fire Two-Thirds of IT

The Queen of Hearts Effect is maverick research that “deliberately exposes unconventional thinking.” But Gartner maverick research says “we analyze too much and synthesize too littalice_par_john_tenniel_29le,” so it’s a useful metaphor.

I’ve seen the Queen of Hearts Effect in action, and it’s not pretty. It’s also not confined to any single company or industry. The Innovation Economy is here to stay, and a global Digital Business Revolution is sending cartloads of IT professionals to the guillotine. Gartner suggests that building a new IT may mean “firing two-thirds of your IT organization.”

“Agile, DevOps and Web scale have formed a lean IT revolution. Few IT groups have the skills/mindset to thrive. This will require IT groups to cut most positions and define new ones.” (Gartner, Fire Two-Thirds of your IT Organization)

After the revolution, what then? Gartner research recommends that companies “fill new IT roles as new positions, not guaranteed transitions. be wary of the frozen middle, and expect staff turnover.” This means that failing to understand and address innovation and the consumerization of IT could cost you your job as an IT professional.

Believing In Users as Consumers of IT

Both business users and executive sponsors now expect consumerized IT experiences on demand, as essential elements of the digital workplace. These requests descend on IT managers through phone and email like a whirling pack of playing cards, for the simple reason that there is no menu in the ticketing system or line item in the annual operating plan for the requestors to tell IT what they want and need to do their work. They’re reduced to describing it by example. “Facebook for the office.” “A smart portal that knows who I am.” “Dropbox, or Box for sharing files.” “Video chat like Skype.” “Dashboards.” “Not so many logins and passwords.” And all of that, on the user’s personal mobile phone.

It’s hard to believe in users that “don’t know what they want,” and easy for IT management to decide to “give them what they really need,” or at least what IT departments are designed to deliver.  But consumerization is here to stay, and trends in the digital workplace are rapidly outpacing the delivery capabilities of most IT departments. CIOs who believe that consumerized IT is “the latest trend (or overhyped term, if you like)” (CIO Magazine) will discover that expectations go far deeper than BYOD.

“Viewing the consumerization of IT as an extension of employee use of internal IT applications seriously oversimplifies what the trend really represents. Consumerization of IT isn’t about employees using consumer devices; it’s about consumers becoming the primary users of internal IT applications. Dealing with this challenge will be significantly more difficult than supporting an employee BYOD environment.” (CIO Magazine)

Six Impossible Things Before Breakfast

“Alice laughed: “There’s no use trying,” she said; “one can’t believe impossible things.”

“I daresay you haven’t had much practice,” said the Queen. “When I was younger, I always did it for half an hour a day. Why, sometimes I’ve believed as many as six impossible things before breakfast.” (Alice in Wonderland)

Want to keep your IT job? Believe the impossible, and practice hard. Every single person involved in an IT project today will need to believe at least six impossible things before breakfast about the SDLC, and keep believing them while running as fast as they can to stay in the same place.

Meanwhile, resist the temptation to play “last man standing” with the rest of IT. Everyone’s going down this rabbit hole, all the way through the Looking Glass to Wonderland. It’s not anyone’s fault if you don’t get there together in the same roles you’re in today.

Only a Pack of Cards

alice_par_john_tenniel_42`Why, they’re only a pack of cards, after all. I needn’t be afraid of them!’ (Alice in Wonderland)

The Red Queen of disruptive innovation and the Queen of Hearts of a ruthless global economy are writing the book for a new IT: one that stands for “innovation and transformation.” It’s a different world from the IT that stands for Infrastructure Technology. Innovation is disrupting the very value chain of business processes that a “traditional” software development lifecycle (SDLC) is designed to support.

If PMO leaders can run fast enough to catch up to those last ten years of industry thought leadership, and start practicing how to believe in users as the first of six impossible things before breakfast, there’s hope for a new IT. We’ll have to imagine, and believe in, this new Wonderland of innovation in order to govern it wisely.

970850-sir-john-tenniel-illustrations

SharePoint Governance Is Data Governance

SPDataGovernance

From Platform to Principles

Each platform and vertical industry “hires its own.” SAP teams want SAP people. Healthcare teams want healthcare experts. Salesforce teams look for SalesForce developers. Banks look for financial services people. It’s the way of the workplace.

SharePoint is no exception. Being a “SharePoint person” conveys membership in a deep-dive community of technical expertise that speaks its own language, from farms and site collections to Designer workflows and PowerShell scripts.

Being a “data governance person” is new. The discipline hasn’t been around very long, and most “data governance experts” emerged from whatever platform needed governing at the time. And the older a SharePoint deployment is, the more likely its “SharePoint governance” is to be focused on document and content management, for the simple reason that SharePoint began its life in the digital workplace as a web-based file share, and in many cases it continues to be one.

SharePoint isn’t a platform where most people expect to find a data governance expert. And yet SharePoint governance is a great exemplar of data governance, for three reasons:

  1. Microsoft and the SharePoint community have done a great job communicating the importance of governance, so that when you go to a SharePoint Saturday or a SharePoint conference, it is an in-joke that “you can’t talk about SharePoint without mentioning governance.” Can’t beat the awareness there.
  2. Governing SharePoint gives hands-on experience in every aspect of data governance, from the obvious to the not-so-obvious, as we’ll see below.
  3. Effective data governance demands collaboration—not the technology, but the practice of negotiating and communicating among stakeholders that becomes second nature to every SharePoint governance lead. “Repeat after me. You have to Share. That’s the Point.”

The DAMA Dictionary of Data Management defines Data Governance as “The exercise of authority, control and shared decision making (planning, monitoring and enforcement) over the management of data assets.”  DAMA has identified 10 major functions of Data Management in the DAMA-DMBOK (Data Management Body of Knowledge).

So, how is SharePoint governance really data governance? What functional principles can we see in the platform? Let’s walk it through.

The Obvious

The most obvious data governance for SharePoint is the farm administration involved with Database Operations Management. Most data governance teams would recognize the infrastructure governance tasks involved in content database deployment, database backup and restore, database-attach upgrade, and disaster recovery. Ensuring that these operations function smoothly is essential to data governance. A truly great operations team is self-governing in this regard, whether it’s the offshore admins working 24/7 shifts or the busier-than-a-one-armed-paperhanger “SharePoint dude” (or dudette) who’s running three Central Admin farms with one hand and migrating entire site collections with the other.

Think SharePoint, and you think of Document and Content Management. Managing document libraries and web pages is the most basic form of data governance, so much so that many data governance plans explicitly focus on “structured data” and exclude unstructured content. Which is a shame, because more and more data is becoming more and more unstructured, both in documents as data models and as snapshot report extracts for ad hoc analysis. For some data governance stewards, the mere mention of such practices evokes a reflexive response. “Well, that’s not governance.” Somehow, data management in documents, or even managing documents as data, has become the antithesis of governance. (It might be useful to ask, “why not?”)

User access and permissions is another obvious area for SharePoint in Data Security Management. Here again, many data governance plans define collaboration and knowledge sharing sites as open areas for information management, and may either govern by exclusion (financial records may not be posted to intranet portals) or by location (all financial records will be stored in SAP). SharePoint’s flexibility and granularity of permissions can tilt data security management quite far toward the front office, and well beyond the comfort zones of enterprise CISOs. Effective SharePoint governance requires (and supports) strong enterprise controls on information and data security, and these can be implemented with the same level of attention and investment one would expect of any enterprise platform.

In SharePoint, Data Development is an organic process that touches content development, content organization with folder structures and metadata tags, coauthoring and versioning, data collection and analysis, review and approval, publishing, and iteration. Often, the concept of data development arises only when a team is preparing to share their work with others and begins to focus on presentation and communication. Data development in SharePoint is paradoxically obvious (it’s everywhere, adding content and data is what people do with the platform) and not-so-obvious, as it’s not nearly as structured as data developers on other platforms may expect.

The Not-So-Obvious

Data governance teams familiar with ERDs and data dictionaries might not as readily recognize site collection and site structures as Data Architecture Management. However, SharePoint has a clearly defined and well-structured hierarchy of data structures, so much so that they can be easily taught to business users. Defining some basic mappings of data structures to business domain objects can be a pattern map for a business-driven logical architecture: one site collection per department, one site per project, one library per fiscal quarter, &c. SharePoint architects have to be good data architects, working with levels of structural granularity from the content database to the list field and everything in between.

Those in the know about SharePoint will associate Metadata Management with the Managed Metadata Service, as well they should. Governing a MMS term store with multiple business taxonomy owners and both enterprise and site-level term sets is an exercise in cat-herding that will have most data governance teams reaching for their data dictionaries. But the real taxonomists will dive deep into the business ontology of business-created Site Columns and List Columns. These Choice, Lookup, Person, Date, and Calculated fields are where business users can (and do) extend data models on the fly. Set some alerts on the most active sites, then watch and learn where your business is evolving, and where your governance teams can do some outreach on the fly too.

A simple change of column type (say, from text to date) or a Required field can restore Data Quality Management as quickly as it gets diluted by the fluidity of SharePoint data modeling. The adaptability of lists is one of the easiest ways to teach DQM to a business team, since they can tune their data quality requirements easily through the UI as site administrators. There may be no easier way to engage business users with their own data quality than to convert an unstructured Excel document to a SharePoint list with a source and target set of columns (text fields for the source and appropriate datatypes for the target), and invite the document owners (aka data stewards) to complete the mappings hands-on. You’ll have them clamoring for strongly typed data before they know what it is.

Column type changes can also be used to drive in-flight maturity and adoption of Reference and Master Data Management. Replacing a choice column in a list with a Managed Metadata column from the Enterprise Term Store is a simple way to communicate master data to business users without documentation or training. A content type from the Enterprise Content Type Hub can carry multiple columns of reference data directly into the UX layer, often making the adoption and master data change entirely transparent to business users.

Most people would reject the concept of a typical SharePoint farm as a repository for Data Warehousing and Business Intelligence Management. And yet, for many business users, their SharePoint site is their “document warehouse” and a searchable knowledgebase for the intelligence they need to do business. As data governance emerges from back-office ERP and CRM systems into the unstructured world of the front office “digital workplace,” SharePoint and Office 365 might start to look a lot more like the BI/DW of the future, especially if data integration and web parts can make it the UX to the Data Lakes of the Cloud.

Collaboration and Data Governance

Many people are completely on-board with Data Governance – up to the point of working collaboratively across business units, where only roadblocks are envisioned.  Data Governance is definitely disruptive but in a positive way (if approached properly).  It does entail change – including organizational change (e.g., Data Governance Council, Data Stewardship Coordinating Committee, etc.).  We’re not talking about a guerrilla approach to Data Governance where some visionary, but under-authorized data architect tries to effect change using influencing skills!” (http://blogs.perficient.com/healthcare/blog/2012/06/12/data-governance-vs-data-management/

Funnily enough, that guerrilla approach is exactly where SharePoint governance shines, and where the next generation of data governance stewards must learn to shine too. Because Big Data has escaped the twin fortresses of ERP and CRM, and it’s headed to the cloud as fast as mobile developers can get it into their apps and business users can upload it to their OneDrives so they can play with it in Tableau or Spotfire. And the fastest way that data moves today is, more often than not, as a document in a SharePoint site, far beyond the reach of any enterprise data steward.

A “No, no, don’t touch” approach to enterprise data governance will starve a data warehouse as quickly as it bloats the SharePoint farm with Excel extracts. Business users trust data that they own, manage, and control, so that learning to share becomes the foundation of data governance.

Data governance needs to do more than say No. It needs to find acceptable ways to say Yes to the speed of business.

Data governance demands collaboration. And the SharePoint community has learned a critical lesson for driving collaborative change across business units: WIFM. What’s In It For Me? Only enlightened self-interest will prevail, and it will do so when (and only when) stakeholders engage each other directly for mutual gain. WIFM is a much more powerful driver of organizational change than any council or committee. Insofar as a Data Governance Council or Stewardship Committee can foster that sense of shared stewardship by discovering and communicating WIFM to its membership, that will be the measure of its success.

We need to Share. That’s the Point. It’s just good data governance.