Tuesday, November 9, 2010

Beware of "enterprise surprise" with collaboration tools

Posted by Mark Brousseau

Enterprise social networking and collaboration tools that perform adequately at a departmental level can demonstrate surprising shortcomings when implemented enterprise wide, according to vendor evaluation research from independent analyst firm Real Story Group (formerly CMS Watch).

Organizations are increasingly attempting to extend pilot collaboration and social software efforts across the enterprise, but IT leaders typically run into unexpected scalability problems. “Functional shortcomings or missing administrative services that don’t crop up in a departmental pilot can provide significant challenges when a customer tries to scale a system enterprise wide,” explains Real Story Group Principal, Tony Byrne.

Real Story Group customer research uncovered significant common shortcomings, including:

... A lack of lifecycle management services, including archiving
... An absence of clustering and multi-instance management services
... Clumsy or non-existent configuration management services and testing environments
... An inability to integrate with enterprise role and group management (entitlements) systems
... User interfaces that are not internationalized or localized

“Not every vendor suffers from all of these weaknesses,” notes Real Story Group Analyst Adriaan Bloem, “but even the most platform-like offerings from the likes of Microsoft and IBM can come up short in one or more areas – much to the surprise of the customer assuming that a tool was explicitly designed for large-scale deployment.”

“Customers should remember that many of these products matured in departmental environments,” counsels Byrne, “so in addition to investing in essential governance, adoption, and education programs, organizations that must support enterprise-wide collaboration and networking should carefully simulate large-scale conditions before committing to any single vendor.”

What do you think?

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