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Tuesday, September 23, 2008

Onward to enterprise collaboration

Too much noise on enterprise collaboration (EC) suite Beehive from Oracle Open World (OOW) in San Francisco.

The expression EC is indeed an oxymoron according to specialist Oliver Marks. Do people collaborate in any enterprise, really? Don’t they bitch one another? Have marketing ever been in love with production? Have the CFO ever appreciated salesman’s travails or ever bothered how sales bring up the topline numbers quarter over quarter? Nothing can be farther from reality.

But yet that’s what Beehive seeks to do – to extract the synergies of having people work more closely together saving money and be more efficient. Often large enterprises have no open editorial environment beyond just news being gathered from all around. At a price of $120 per user seat this is not a system for most small or medium sized businesses but rather a secure solution that can be integrated with existing enterprise infrastructure. Should work well with office workflow systems since the design fits clients that ask for ‘collaboration that works within the structure of our existing business’. The new openness allows integration with SAP or other competitors, and a set of web services that will run on different server platforms - Solaris, Linux, Microsoft.

Oracle take great pains to point out that they are addressing existing customer needs in providing a system that reinforces regulatory needs. Mark Brown, Senior Director of Beehive Business Strategy, cited the recent leak of politician Sara Palin’s private email and increasing regulatory compliance of the financial industry as examples of the need for tighter infrastructure oversight.

Great. But as a true blue consultant, I worry about sales hurdle. How will the CIO get its budget past the CFO? C-level people are either too secretive or even paranoid to freely use collaboration suites that leave a trail. (They can’t say “this was not what I meant” or say “I told you so” later if the stuff sucks). They are more comfortable with over-the-phone-requests that come with in-built “that-wasn’t-me” flexibility. Will they let in a feature that they will never use at such an expense? ;-)

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