Friday, 7 September 2007

Enterprise collaboration session

Chaired by Dan Farber, with the august panel consisting of:

Scott Dietzen, President and CTO, Zimbra
Etay Gafni, Architect, SAP
Sam Lawrence, Chief Marketing Officer, Jive Software
Oliver Marks, Senior Project Manager, Sony Computer Entertainment America
Paul Pedrazzi, Oracle AppsLab Director, Oracle
Jay Simons, Senior Director of Product Marketing, BEA Systems

Dan started by asking what added the 2.0 to collaboration in the opinions of the panel members. Scott suggested the contingent mix of push / pull technologies and the use of mashups to improve the user experience. Paul suggested the main difference is putting the focus on the person (rather than the process) and breaking down silo's. Jay suggested useability is the focus, but also noted that the '2.0' technologies are supplementing not supplanting all that went before within the enterprise.

Oliver from Sony made some very interesting points, getting straight to the crux of the matter ! He started by saying that he (like me) dislikes the '2.0' moniker, that in fact '2.0' is the 'norm' at Sony. He went onto to say that they are big on the 'portal' approach, bringing all the applications and information someone needs to do their job together in a portal and so from his point of view any new technologies should be modular, so they can be integrated easily into the portal.

Oliver went on to cover another point, one that I heard discussed many times across the two days and that is one of the main issues for me when it comes to 'enterprise 2.0': to take these app's from consumer space to enterprise space, they must be offered for hosting on the organisations own infrastructure, within the firewall. Indeed, Sony go as far as demanding access to the source code of any app they use ! If they can't get the source code, they go else where (nice to be able to be in that position). I will return to Olivers points in a later summary posting.

Our MC gave his next question to the panel; how do you deal with idea of spreading the 'people centric message' - how do you deal with "yeah, thats cool, really great, now I am going back to my work...."

The responses centered around the use of social networks in the enterprise being all about filtering the signal from the noise, and being about focusing connections within the team, the department the division and maybe outside the enterprise. A comment was made about the fact that an email with a link from a trusted colleague, is probably going to be considered more important than the days top links on digg.

Jay suggested Facebook as an example, is popular because it helps filter the noise - I am not sure I agree, but the OU has not experimented with a private Facebook group yet, but at the moment I more likely to get a zombie or vampire bite than a useful message via Facebook !

Anyway, to finish off a very interesting session, Dan asked one further questions "whats the future vision, where do you see things going" ?

The summary of the responses to this are: current trends might be making things easier, but there is no great paradigm shift, however the 'wisdom of crowds' could provoke such a shift, alongside greater prioritisation and automation of tasks leading to quick and efficient creation of ad hoc workflows.

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