Mittwoch, 13. November 2013

What Is A Social Intranet?

I don't have much time to write blog posts here, but today I had the feeling the time is ripe to have another intellectual eruption. It's all Xing's fault with their new, aggressive News mailings as they try to keep up with LinkedIn that do alike. They notified me about a article on Social Intranets mentioning Bitrix24 and Gartner's Magic Quadrant for Social Software in the Workplace.

The story of Bitrix24

The interesting part of the story is that I've been evaluating Bitrix24 actively for more than 10 months, and apart from the aspects that I love about their product, which mainly is the corporate-centric approach trying to capture more than just "projects" and "knowledge" (which is what the Atlassian strategy obviously is), the platform totally failed in the evaluation process due to missing software stability. Test coverage is what their platform is lacking and what severely torpedoes the success of any feature release they have. We had to migrate to the state-of-the-art, yet still inefficient albeit effective, JIRA-Confluence combo in the cloud to provide for a stable, reassuring environment for our newly established Agile software development practice at DACHCOM.DIGITAL AG. When you deal with massive change management you can't afford having discussions about the tools you've introduced.

Apart from that, sales representatives of Bitrix acknowledged to me that their organization doesn't know about SCRUM and Agile, and their approach is to let their local vendors come up with "customized flavors" or "profiles" of Bitrix Intranets, tailored towards the specific requirements of the industries you serve as a Bitrix Partner. Being a Bitrix Partner and a customer in despair at the same time, we couldn't afford waiting for the solution we'd have to come up with for Agile software development agencies running Bitrix24. I'd have loved to, but we had to decide which problem to solve first. And JIRA has Greenhopper, so unfortunately there was no real choice.

Is SharePoint a Social Intranet Platform?

The next thing I stumbled upon was Gartner seriously mentioning Microsoft in the leading quadrant for social software in the workplace. Let me assure you that I know the headaches and stomach aches that Microsoft SharePoint means for collaboration, document and knowledge management. And just because Microsoft bought Yammer doesn't make SharePoint the killer platform. Only because David Sacks is a Microsoft fanboy and happy about the 2012 acquisition, much like Mark Zuckerberg who revealed that Bill Gates was his role model, doesn't mean that Microsoft all of a sudden knows what went wrong with their platform in the past decade. This is much like thinking the acquisition of Skype alone means that all Microsoft products are automatically fully integrated with Skype communication technology over night. By magic.

I'm wondering what numbers Gartner uses to judge on the readiness of Social Software in the Workplace. It may certainly be true that CIOs "typically buy SharePoint for its breadth of capabilities as a platform" (i.e. the platform integrates the entire Microsoft office landscape including file shares and office document formats), and being "the most common platform supporting collaboration and related activities" may also mean something to Microsoft sales reps and executives, but a "preintegration between SharePoint and Yammer [which] is improving" doesn't actually tell that we talk about a leader in the technical and processual sense. Read: SharePoint is probably one of the worst choices you can make when introducing collaboration software.

Only safe choices are good choices, aren't they?

The inclusion and exclusion criteria of Gartner's report may be arguable as they make sure that big players will always be included in their report, no matter how bad their software is. After all they're right: Most CIOs are happy to make safe decisions based on global presence and market dominance. Don't get me wrong: Microsoft is not the only example as a vendor for this phenomenon. We also have Atlassian.

P.S.: For a similar, of course more established opinion on Gartner's rating of SharePoint & Yammer I recommend Dion Hinchcliffe on ZDnet.

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