The Village View

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

Office 2.0 - key takeaways

I went to the Office 2.0 Conference last week. I thought the conference itself was well run; congrats to Ismael Ghalimi and Julia French for doing a superb job on the logistics. (Special thanks to conference planner Birgess Moore for finding my business cards!) As I told my manager, I think it was money well spent for SAP for three main reasons: 1) Contacts - I met a lot of great folks that I look forward to staying in touch with; 2) Thought progression - Listening to and engaging in discussion with those I met, and had known previously e.g., the Enterprise Irregulars, went a long way in shaping my thoughts on the direction of the enterprise software industry; 3) solidify SAP's position as a leader in the use and championing of Office 2.0 technologies.

Several of my fellow Irregulars have written extensively on the conference and I would recommend you check their posts out here:
- Ismael Ghalimi
- Dennis Howlett
- David Terrar
- Rod Boothby
- Charlie Wood
- Jeff Nolan
- Dan Farber
- Jason Wood (UPDATED)
- Zoli Erdos (UPDATED)

What follows are some "key takeaways." They are in no way MECE.

Hybrid is the right path
  • Believe it or not, this hit me while listening to Microsoft's Technical Evengelist Don Campbell. I believe he said something like "the user decides what's online and what's offline." Yes. There are some things I may not want outside the firewall.
  • Let's face it: today, and for the next few years, we're not always going to be online. To wit: 12 hours of flying time last week with only the "Devil Wears Prada" to watch = prime working time. I need to be able to access, work on and save my documents locally. Also, want to be able to collaborate and share of course. that's why I need both offline and online. Hybrid!
    • I think I heard Thinkfree say that they either had or were working on an offline version as well.
  • Question: at the end of the day, am I not often going to end up saving these online spreadsheets, documents and presentations as offline .xls, .doc, or .ppt files? Not all the time, but a heck of a lot of time. (Charlie?)
SAP gets it (and so does Microsoft, and maybe even BEA)
  • SAP had 10 attendees at the conference (actually a couple of more sneaked in) and was a platinum sponsor
    • We had folks from Strategy, SAP Developer Network, New Product Introduction et al
  • SAP is making a real effort to understand this space, both as a vendor and a consumer of Office 2.0 solutions
    • SDN - extensive use of blogs, wikis and podcasts to foster community among developers
      • Craig Cmehil - Community evangelist and blogger (SDN, personal).
    • NPI - widgets, enterprise search et al
    • Apollo Strategy (that's my group) - we're pushing the use of, and using, wikis, internal blogs and podcasts. In addition, we're involved with reaching out to the blogger community to ensure that SAP participates in the conversation
No differentiation made between SaaS and Social Media during much of the conference, especially the Making Office 2.0 Enterprise Ready panel
  • This is an important differentiation that wasn't made on a consistent basis, but is fundamental
    • The chances and method of adoption of a SaaS products (let's say CRM software) and a Social Media productt (a wiki) are entirely different.
      • The former is essentially the same user experience (ok, with a better UI) delivered differently, the latter is a fundamentally different way of doing things.
        • The challenges encountered in adoption will similarly be different
Goals of Office 2.0 are evolutionary, even if the means of getting there may be revolutionary
  • The goals of using a wiki are collaboration, project management etc. Basically, I'm looking to work together better
    • These goals are not fundamentally different than any other collaboration tool I use(document mgt system, excel, microsoft project)
  • However, a wiki is a radically different means of collaborating with editable, public editing & little structure
Wiki adoption is challenging (I'm not the only one facing this challenge!)
  • Esther Dyson nailed it - Problem with a wiki is that it's not explicit. It is a container, but not a flow manager
    • No verbs, all nouns. Collaboration is all about verbs
    • In order to help adoption, you need to give your user "hand holds"
      • Chair analogy - walking into an empty room doesn't provide enough guidance. You need to add and arrange chairs. The person who moves the chairs around is the one that makes the wiki succesful
        • Wiki template - has the chairs already in place
    • I'm going to look into getting some templates for my users, perhaps something we can provide upon establishing a new workspace
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