Trendspotting 2013

Dec 2012 HARO Tech Query Word Cloud by BloomThink2012 is gone and there are plenty of entertaining and profound retrospectives from Google’s Zeitgeist 2012 to your very own Facebook year in review. But it is much more interesting to look ahead and anticipate where the market will go based on the trajectory established in late 2012.  Therefore we have performed some deep textual analytics, data mining and business intelligence operations on forward looking data sets to arrive at the following conclusions.

  1. 2013 is the year business adoption of social media starts in earnest.  For many years, technology and innovation have far outpaced business adoption.  As niche players grew into success over the last 2 years, big business interest in the revenue of thos spaces grew as well.  2012 was a year of many notable social acquisitions by big firms. Facebook bought Instagram, Microsoft bought Yammer, LinkedIn bought SlideShare, Salesforce bought BuddyMedia, Google bought Wildfire, Oracle bought Vitrue, and IBM bought tealeaf to name a few.  Undoubtedly you could name others.  Such acquisitions are leading, rather than trailing, market indicators.  As the big companies buy innovation, expect them to monetize their purchases by driving those social technologies deeper into their customer lists and solution stacks.
  2. 2013 is the year organizations move from infants to juveniles along the maturity spectrum.  While social technologies enjoyed the limelight among marketers and consultants, the rest of the organization yawned and continued with business as usual.  That meant email.  Despite pockets of enlightenment, most businesses are just now dipping their toes into the ocean of social business.  Like toddlers at the beach running towards then away from the surf, they are curious about what is out there and convinced that it is amazing.  Yet, as the 2012 IBM Tech Trend Report demonstrates, they are cautious and fearful as well.  Combine a maturing business user with available technology and 2012 – the year of introduction – completed and the stage is set for businesses to do some growing up.
  3. 2013 is the year big data meets big social content and has a social intelligence baby. The match has already been made.  The sheer power of distributed compute systems like Hadoop when brought to bear on the sheer magnitude of social data produce amazing insights. But outside of some basic ERP optimization or network bandwidth allocation, most businesses have largely been left scratching their heads with what to do with all this new information.  Big data has yet to regularly produce actionable insight from all that information.  2013 is the year that unstructured content is brought into the mix.  The combination will produce a small but promising technology trend – social intelligence.  It will undoubtedly be named something else. And what we mean by “social intelligence” is not the best time to post your tweets.  Rather it is the synthesis of big data intelligence, social CRM, CXM, enterprise knowledge and unstructured data that produces the contextual lens through which business decisions are made.  The burgeoning cloud backup market is getting a handle on all the unstructured content in the business.  As they add indexing, search and sharing to their offerings  – as pioneers such as Digitiliti have already done – the availability of enterprise knowledge will become independent from the snags and barriers known today as “check in pages”.  As APIs and integrations become productized the combination of these centralized knowledgebases with big data warehouses will be tapped by enterprising reporting engines and genius data scientists.  There will be many small niche players in this area in 2013.  But those will be snapped up in 2014 and we’ll see a growth in maturity in social intelligence – or whatever it is called – in 2015.

In closing, the image above is a word cloud that highlights terms from forward looking technology queries posed by journalists looking for help writing their stories.  It covers December, 2012 and more than 7600 words.  If the news is to be believed, 2013 will be a year where business has a deep need for expertise, data, security, people who can execute (make) and information is at the heart of it all.  There is also a proliferation of smaller topics that form a milieu rather than remain on the periphery.  Taken all together, 2013 will be a year of learning to use what we have to drive insight we have always suspected was there.  Cheers!

WCM Can Learn From Google+

WCM Can Learn From Google+ The editing experience of Google Plus is fantastic.  They have achieved a degree of ease and granularity that WCM systems have been struggling and failing to achieve for years.

First, at its core, Google+ is WCM – web content management.  It is the place for you to build your personal brand and promote content and interaction (aka “engagement”) with the public and those in your circles.

Keeping your profile and other pages up to date and highlighting the best happenings, photos and events must be frictionless.  Our job isn’t to maintain our Google+ page, our Google+ page’s job is to showcase us in the best light.  So editing you pages should be, and is, quick and easy.  There are no popups, there is no confusing “edit mode” that shifts the entire look and feel of your page layout.  You simply click on what you wish to edit and start typing.  Click done and that’s it.

This approach to maintaining your online presence is far and away the best one I’ve experienced.  Google+ does not over complicate the experience with widgets, plugins or other “effects” that clutter most other WCM systems.  They have correctly identified their place in the flow of information from the user (me) to the world (folks in my circles).  They do not try to make me into a web admin or programmer.  They figure, if I want deep programming capabilities and effects I’ll be using a different system.

And it is precisely this targeted approach that is both driving adoption of apps like Instagram and sites like Pinterest while driving people away from all-in-one platforms like those provided by Oracle, IBM, Microsoft, OpenText and EMC.  The level of effort to create and display (and “like”, “re-use” and comment on) images in a Pinterest style board in an enterprise portal is huge compared to the level of effort it takes to set up a Pinterest account and start sharing images (that link back to primary web properties).

So WCM systems can stand to learn a thing or two from Google+  1) keep it simple for users 2) don’t over reach.  Other, better suited, systems will take up the feature gap.

ECM and Zombies
Image by April McGuire – @octipuff – Used With Permission.

ECMS’ are graveyards and they are a dead end. They may be called digital landfills or “deep archives” or enterprise document management storage systems.  But they are where content goes to die.  Content that is coughed up by these information catacombs is a husk withered by the desiccating lack of context and lurching through presentation memes that were full of life in a previous digital age.  (JOKE: if deep archives are content graveyards what does that make eDiscovery lawyers?)

The goal of information management is to foster re-use, sharing, and to decrease the extreme amount of re-creation of existing (but hidden) content that goes on in organizations.  The idea of businesses saving information its own sake is silly.  Look a bit deeper and there’s always a reason, rationale or ROI lurking nearby.  It might be to manage risk.  It might be to foster accidental collaboration. It’s never “because we like spending money on storage for stuff we’ll never use, never want to use and poses no risk to us if found.”

So what’s the point of ECM?  The big vendors – IBM/Oracle/Microsoft/OpenText/EMC etc keep searching for their purpose.  Right now it’s web engagement.  A couple of years ago it was a one-giant-size-fits-all portal/platform/wcm/collaboration story.  Before that it was WCM, Invoices, Documents.  The story changes.  Analysts help that story change with each new wave, quadrant or expensive report on industry trends they put out.

It’s a tired but true platitude that we are generating more information than ever before.  We’re swimming in it.  Mining it for value and reusability is tough.  We’ve tried our hands at baked in search engines.  We’ve tried integrated search engines.  We’ve created metadata schemas that are inhumanly complex and disposition rule frameworks written by lawyers for lawyers and delivered to us mere mortals (to our horror).  We’ve coined new compliance and reusability standards (SCORM, DoD5015, CFR 2111) and even developed new integration standards (CMIS) because we realized one size doesn’t fit all.  Unfortunately CMIS tries to solve the problem by pulling one too-big platform together with three or four others (gaaaahhhhh!!!!).

So what SHOULD be the point of ECM?  ECMS’ should exhibit, not exhume. ECMS’ need to curate information. They need to tap into social power to do it.  Nothing else (yet) scales.  But they wont.  So it is left to the start ups.

Look at all the start up trends getting funding and getting acquired. There are TONS in the content/info distribution, content branding and content app-ification space.  A quick review of TechCrunch at the time of this writing shows 6 articles on content related startups.  Twitter acquired Summify today. Hmmm, sounds like someone with a lot of content (twitter) acquired a technology that helps raise personal relevancy to the top of the heap (summify). How many ECMS’ make those same claims? (answer – all of them in one way or another).

Others have pointed out that the legacy brands still carry “trust” with the buyer (e.g. the old saying, “you’ll never get fired for hiring IBM”).  But this “trust factor” is aging as fast as the Boomers who control the purse strings. Millennials give trust first then take it away. Legacy trust carries less weight with these new buyers and influencers – especially when it comes with the IBM/ORACLE/MICROSOFT/EMC/OPENTEXT price tag attached.

Your action: adopt a new mindset.  You are the Sommelier.  Seek to exhibit.  Museums have vast areas of storage with amazing collections.  The exhibit curators understand what will be interesting to the public; what will challenge them; what is an old favorite or a needed reminder.  Adopt that mindset and then appreciate your content managers the way you appreciate an amazing gallery.  Empower your content managers, your “corporate librarians” your “archivists” to pulse your community and display, showcase, advertise and foster an ecosystem where the past is not all rot but is rather an inspiration.