Sunday, 9 September 2007

Office 2.0 conference summary

Well, back at home in the good ol' UK courtesy of United Airlines, not a bad flight, but as I said to Oliver from Sony, thank the lords for the PSP and some anime ......

So, the highlights; well some good sessions with thought provoking discussion, and ability to see some of the wares being demo'd on the lovely big screen Apple iMac's. So, here are the main points that I have personally taken away from the conference, and how they may fit into OU projects:

1. The hosted SaaS model, and why it does not fit for some enterprises. To every vendor who described to me how secure their data centre is, what is that you are not understanding about enterprise security ? Yes, I know, my data might be encrypted within your system, your sys admins don't have access, etc etc, but some enterprises are 'conservative' when it comes to their data you know. This is especially so, when the business in question is one that works with, and creates information / knowledge. When your data is your organisational crown jewels then your CEO / CIO / IT Director are not going to be won over by arguements of how great the SaaS model is and how much its going to save them on their storage bill. They may well be won over by 'cool' web 2.0 style apps if they offer good API's for integration with other enterprise apps, if they speak LDAP with the corporate directory service and maybe present their GUI via the corporate portal.

2. However, all is not gloom and doom, I am not anti-web 2.0 ! I do think where the web 2.0 guys should be marketing their wares is to the small to medium size enterprise (SME -> SMB in the UK) sector, or enterprises that are focused on manufacturing or logistics or something similar. In other words, to the small business the value proposition is in not having to have your own IT team / data centre, and its similar for those big businesses who are ok having their customer lists and accounts etc hosted in someone else's servers. Or indeed, to Universities with lost of students..... ?

3. Social Networking. Apparently, I am one of only 3 odd people in the world who does not want to mix their digital working life, with their digital home life ;-} I am quite happy having separate digital persona's, but then I am tech savvy enough to aggregate them using tools like Pageflakes or Netvibes, which apparently (and probably correctly) the average punter is not. There was a lot of discussion at the conference on how businesses would probably prefer LinkedIn to go down the Facebook route (opening up the platform) but I am not sure I agree, there are plenty of options for a business that wants to include social networking in their 'enterprise 2.0 mix'

So, what can I take away from the conference that is specifically of use to the OU ?

Well, I saw a couple of good alternatives to the 'portal platform' software for the redevelopment of the OU Intranet, in ThoughtFarmer and Jives' Clearspace (which was used for the 02con web site), however Oliver from Sony also confirmed in my mind the suitability of an enterprise class portal.

Cogenz looks very interesting for enterprise social bookmarking, but to be honest, I am not sure the that the OU requires 'secure' social bookmarking, might just be good enough for us, but then Cogenz released an API at the conference which allows for integration.

On the social networking front both Ning and the newly released Sosius could give a private Facebook group a good run for its money for a 'closed' or 'OU employee only' social networking site. However Sosius is a broad product cutting across social networking, online storage/file sharing and online applications spaces. (I think the guys should wrap it all up, do a deal with Dell to provide it on a 2U rack mount server and provide it as a turnkey 'intranet in a box').

Not being an academic, a learning design professional or pedagogy expert, I can not say I took an awful lot away from the 'Classroom 2.0' session, with its focus on the U.S. school (K12 ?) environment, and I think there are better minds than mine considering where web 2.0 / classroom 2.0 fits into the online and distance learning environments.

The OU does not need an online office suite, and we have project management and collaboration products, so I apologise to all the conference exhibitors I have not name checked, but there you go.

I would like to end with a mention to Freshbooks, principally their CEO Mike, and marketing head honcho Sunir, who being nice Canadians took pity on me as a 'wannabe' Canadian and let me tag a long to meet with some of their friends on Wednesday evening - thanks guys, I thoroughly enjoyed the conversation :-)

Finally, what do you call if you have a 'fire 2.0' ?


jinky32 said...

just had a meeting with coral who runs the clusters project i'm part of. there will be plenty of feedback on ou staff use of ning / delicious / foundit etc etc that will be of use more widely (and hopefully for internal comms too!). Just emailed yourself and niki about a catchup re intranet - would be interesting to try and get some type of `my intranet) page - netvibes style - drawing in these various tools....

FreshMike said...

Jed - it was great to have you along for the adventure that evening! Glad to see you made it home safely and nice to meet you.

- Mike