Forrester analyst Gil Yehuda offers a perspective of Enterprise 2.0 collaboration as either driven by IT, or from the bottom up by the Line of Business, what he calls tech populist. And given the present recession, offers an outlook:
I predict that IT-driven internal collaboration initiatives will be squeezed tight: 1. they are usually more expensive than the Tech Populist options. 2. IT is being asked to sacrifice projects, and they would rather cut fat, not bone. Meaning, they’d rather protect their bread-and-butter IT infrastructure from being outsourced. And 3.The business considers projects initiated by IT to be less vital. Remember who pays the bills.
However, for business-driven internal enterprise Web 2.0 collaboration projects, I see growth. Why? Because the business will find their collaboration needs to grow in 2009, while they see IT providing them with fewer services. Collaboration needs grow as a result of layoffs, mergers, and deepening external partnerships (requiring new infrastructure to collaborate outside the firewall with trusted, external partners). And this happens while IT’s services shrink as a result of layoffs, a focus on streamlining operational costs, while not taking on new projects.
Who wins? The SaaS based collaboration vendors: folks like Box.net, GroupSwim, Jive, OneHub, PBwiki, SocialCast, Socialtext, and others who provide collaboration services in the cloud for about $5-$15 per user per month, give or take. These products range in functionality, where some focus on the wiki, others on the social network, and still others are more suited for file sharing within trusted groups. But these are easy pickings for business that are looking to circumvent IT and set up a small departmental solution. Especially in departments that are looking to collaborate with a few external partners.
Line of Business implementations not only experience growth, but greater success. According to this year's McKinsey survey on Building the Web 2.0 Enterprise, IT-driven implementations had 60% user dissatisfaction, whereas LoB-driven had 74% satisfaction. Part of this is vendor selection, but LoB implementations have greater engagement and adoption. I believe the best approach is to partner LoB with IT, what I once called middlespace, for the benefits of top down and bottom up adoption.
Gil also predicts a battle of 2009:
And now, the battle. The story above works for companies that are willing to move to SaaS based products to address near term collaboration need in 2009. But many organizations cannot, or will not, allow themselves to house their intellectual property on someone else’s servers – no matter what the vendor says to assure them. This means that organizations with hard-line IT shops will face a battle between IT and the business for a collaboration solution that integrates with IT’s existing infrastructure, but requires little IT involvement.
Okay, now I'm just tooting my own horn. Socialtext is the only vendor with a SaaS Appliance, meeting behind-the-firewall policies with SaaS benefits such as right-sizing the application subscription. I think Gil is right that LoB collaboration will grow next year through SaaS. As they are successful they will partner with IT and migrate the cloud behind the firewall as necessary.