SharePoint – Migrating the Office Franchise to the Web

Microsoft has a lot to lose if they are unable to coax customers to continue to use and invest in Office.  Google is trying to woo people away by providing a complete online experience with Google Docs, Email, and Wave.  Microsoft is taking a different tact.  They are easing Office users into a Web 2.0-like experience by creating a hybrid environment, in which people can continue to use the rich Office tools they know and love, and mix this with a browser experience.  I use the term Web 2.0 here to mean that users can contribute important content to the site. 

SharePoint leverages Office to allow users to create, modify, and display "deep[1]" content, while leveraging the browser to navigate, view, discover, and modify "shallow[1]" content.  SharePoint is not limited to this narrow hybrid feature set, but in this post I  examine and illustrate how Microsoft is focusing its attention on the Office users.  The feature set that I concentrate on in this post is referred to as the "Collaboration" portion of SharePoint.  This is depicted in Microsoft’s canonical six segmented wheel shown in Figure 1.  This is the most mature part of SharePoint and works quite well, as long as the client machine requirements outlined below are met.

 

 Figure 1: The canonical SharePoint Marketing Tool – Today’s post focuses on the Collaboration Segment

Preliminaries:   Client Machine Requirements

SharePoint out-of-the-box works well if all client machines adhere to the following constraints:

  1. The client machines must be running Windows OS (XP, Vista, or WIndows 7)
    NOTE: The experience for users who are using MAC OS, Linux, iPhones, and Google phones is poor. [2]
  2. The only truly supported browser is Internet Explorer (7 and 8.) [2]
    NOTE: Firefox, Safari, and Opera can be used, but the experience is poor.
  3. The client machines need to have Office installed, and  as implied by bullet 1 above, the MAC version of Office doesn’t work well with SharePoint 2007.
  4. All the clients should have the same version of Office.  Office 2007 is optimal, but Office 2003 can be used.  A mixed version of Office can cause issues.
  5. A number of tweaks need to be made to the security settings of the browser so that the client machine works seamlessly with SharePoint. 

I refer to this as a "Microsoft Friendly Client Environment."

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[1] The terms "deep" and "shallow" are my creation, and not a standard.  By "deep" content I am referring to the complex content such as a Word documents (contracts, manuscripts) or Excel documents (complex mathematical models, actuarial models, etc…)

[2] Microsoft has addressed this by stating that SharePoint 2010 would support some of these environments.  I am somewhat skeptical. 

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Integration of Social Software and Content Management Systems: The Big Picture

Jive Software’s announcement last week of the Jive SharePoint Connector was met with a "so what" reaction by many people. They criticized Jive for not waiting to make the announcement until the SharePoint Connector is actually available later this quarter (even though pre-announcing product is now a fairly common practice in the industry.) Many also viewed this as a late effort by Jive to match existing SharePoint content connectivity found in competitor’s offerings, most notably those of NewsGator, Telligent, Tomoye, Atlassian, Socialtext, and Connectbeam.

Those critics missed the historical context of Jive’s announcement and, therefore, failed to understand its ramifications. Jive’s SharePoint integration announcement is very important because it:

  • underscores the dominance of SharePoint in the marketplace, in terms of deployments as a central content store, forcing all competitors to acknowledge that fact and play nice (provide integration)
  • reinforces the commonly-held opinion that SharePoint’s current social and collaboration tools are too difficult and expensive to deploy, causing organizations to layer third-party solution on top of existing SharePoint deployments
  • is the first of several planned connections from Jive Social Business Software (SBS) to third-party content management systems, meaning that SBS users will eventually be able to find and interact with enterprise content without regard for where it is stored
  • signals Jive’s desire to become the de facto user interface for all knowledge workers in organizations using SBS

The last point is the most important. Jive’s ambition is bigger than just out-selling other social software vendors. The company intends to compete with other enterprise software vendors, particularly with platform players (e.g. IBM, Microsoft, Oracle, and SAP), to be the primary productivity system choice of large organizations. Jive wants to position SBS as the knowledge workers’ desktop, and their ability to integrate bi-directionally with third-party enterprise applications will be key to attaining that goal.

Jive’s corporate strategy was revealed in March, when they decreed a new category of enterprise software — Social Business Software. Last week’s announcement of an ECM connector strategy reaffirms that Jive will not be satisfied by merely increasing its Social Media or Enterprise 2.0 software market share. Instead, Jive will seek to dominate its own category that bleeds customers from other enterprise software market spaces.

Effective Authoring for Translation: An Interview with LinguaLinx

Fifth  in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

We spoke with David Smith, president of LinguaLinx Language Solutions, a full-service translation agency providing multilingual communication solutions in over 150 languages.  David talked with us about the evolving role of the language service provider across the global content value chain (GCVC), their rationale for co-sponsoring the research, and what findings they consider most relevant from the research.

Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product support?

Smith: As a translation agency, we’ve realized that our involvement with global content should be much earlier in the supply chain. In addition to localization, we support clients in reducing costs and increasing efficiencies by providing consulting services that revolve around the content authoring process – from reuse strategies and structured authoring best practices to maximizing the inherent capabilities of content management and workflow systems. Rather than just adapting content into other languages, we assist with its creation so that it is concise, consistent and localization-friendly.

Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research?

Smith: Of the many organizations and associations we belong to, we find that the research and topics of Gilbane studies and conferences alike most closely align with our interest and efforts to diversify our services and become a turn-key outsourced documentation consultancy as opposed to a traditional translation agency.

Gilbane: What is the most interesting/compelling/relevant result reported in the study?

Smith: The findings present two major points that we feel are relevant. First, there is definitely wide-ranging recognition of the benefits derived from the creation of standardized content in a content management system integrated with a localization workflow solution. 

Secondly, there are many, many different ways of approaching the creation, management, and publishing of global content.  There’s often a significant gap between the adoption of global content solutions – such as authoring software, translation management software, workflow linking different technologies – and the successful implementation of these solutions among those responsible for day-to-day content creation and delivery.  A major manufacturer of GPS technology is actually authoring directly in InDesign to a great extent even though it utilizes an industry-leading translation workflow tool – which provides an example of the lengths to which internal processes must be changed to realize truly efficient global content processes.

For more insights into the link between authoring and translation and localization, see the section “Achieving Quality at the Source” that begins on page 28 of the report. You can also learn how LinguaLinx helped New York City Department of Education communicate with 1.8 million families across 1,500 schools in which 43% of students speak a language other than English at home. Download the study for free.

 

Cloud Computing: The Recent Sidekick/Microsoft Loss of Data Was Inevitable, But a Good Thing For Cloud Computing

So Microsoft was asleep at the wheel and didn’t use good procedures to backup and restore Sidekick data[1][2]. It was just a matter of time until we saw a breakdown in cloud computing.  Is this the end to cloud computing?  Not at all!  I think it is just the beginning.  Are we going to see other failures? Absolutely!  These failures are good, because they help sensitize potential consumers of cloud computing on what can go wrong and  what contractual obligations service providers must adhere to.

There is so much impetus for having centralized computing, that I think all the risk and downside will be outweighed by the positives.  On the positive side, security, operational excellence, and lower costs will eventually become mainstream in centralized services.   Consumers and corporations will become tired of the inconvenience and high cost of maintaining their own computing facilities in the last mile.

Willie Sutton, a notorious bank robber,  is often misquoted as saying that he robbed banks "because that’s where the money is."[3]   Yet all of us still keep our money with banks of one sort or another. Even though online fraud statistics are sharply increasing [4][5], the trend to use online and mobile banking as well as credit/debit transactions is on a steep ascent. Many banking experts suggest that this trend is due to convenience.

Whether a corporation is maintaining their own application servers and desktops, or consumers are caring and feeding for their MAC’s and PC’s the cost of doing this, measured in time and money is steadily growing. The expertise that is required is ever increasing.   Furthermore, the likelihood of having a security breach when individuals care for their own security is high.

The pundits of cloud computing say that the likelihood of breakdowns in highly concentrated environments such as Cloud computing servers is high.  The three main factors they point to are:

  1. Security Breaches
  2. Lack of Redundancy
  3. Vulnerability to Network Outages

I believe that in spite of these, seemingly large obstacles, we will see a huge increase in the number of cloud services and the number of people using these services in the next 5 years.  When we keep data on our local hard drives, the security risks are huge.  We are already pretty much dysfunctional when the network goes down, and I have had plenty of occasions where my system administrator had to reinstall a server or I had to reinstall my desktop applications.  After all, we all trust the phone company to give us a dial tone.

The savings that can be attained are huge:   A Cloud Computing provider can realize large savings by using specialized resources that are amortized across millions of users. 

There is little doubt in my mind that cloud computing will become ubiquitous.  The jury is still out as to what companies will become the service providers.  However, I don’t think Microsoft will be one of them, because their culture just doesn’t allow for solid commitments to the end user. 

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[1] The Beauty in Redundancy, http://gadgetwise.blogs.nytimes.com/2009/10/12/the-beauty-in-redundancy/?scp=2&sq=sidekick&st=cse 

[2] Microsoft Project Pink – The reason for sidekick data loss, http://dkgadget.com/microsoft-project-pink-the-reason-for-sidekick-data-loss/

[3] Willie Sutton, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Willie_Sutton.

[4] Online Banking Fraud Soars in Britain,  http://www.businessweek.com/globalbiz/content/oct2009/gb2009108_505426.htm?campaign_id=rss_eu

[5] RSA Online Fraud Report, September 2009,  http://www.rsa.com/solutions/consumer_authentication/intelreport/10428_Online_Fraud_report_0909.pdf

Top 20 List: World’s Largest Publishers

The list of the 20 largest publishers in the world shows a profoundly changing landscape in book publishing. The chart below is provided by Rüdiger Wischenbart from Publishing Perspectives in Germany. He has contributed some good insights into the transformation of the publishing industry. I offer my analysis on the state of the industry and its future.

 

Some publishers are fairing much better economically, while others are steadily sliding downward in revenue and in their global standing. The changing dynamics between the professional information, education and trade sectors has affected this year’s ranking.  The good news is that publishers that have reinvented themselves (responded to market demand by listening to the customer) have done much better than most.

Pearson, Thomson Reuters, Cengage are identified as star performers on the list. Four out of five dollars is generated through the digital integrated value chain. The digital content and e-book industry for professional information content is the high growth segment of the publishing industry. As an industry, we are weak in our recognition of the current size and opportunity of the digital marketplace. Education publishers and trade publishers are having trouble evolving. There is broad need for knowledgeable skilled digital workers, experienced strategic thinkers, scalable and flexible technology infrastructure, and streamlined workflow/processes that allow publishers to execute on updated strategic initiatives.

Asian publishers are becoming a force, as they are in many other market segments. They include companies like Korea’s Kyowon and China’s Higher Education Press. Their strong suit is “localizing” content (i.e. cultural adaptation), and the power and economics of a huge growing audience. They are hungry. They want their piece of the pie.

Trade publishers, experiencing a steady decline in revenues, are poorly positioned to compete. However, the strong performance of Penguin and Hachette are current exceptions in this segment. It remains to be seen if trade publishers can transform into a sustainable business model. Trade’s poor performance and outlook is due to several reasons, beginning with the fact that they have the farthest to go to find and serve today’s and tomorrow’s readers.

We have seen endless debate in trade on digital pricing and searches for new business models. The best solutions will leverage and be respectful of the stakeholders…all of them! That includes, but is not limited to; authors, agents publishers, libraries, distributors, wholesalers, physical bookstores, digital bookstores, printers, service providers, the media, reviewers, technology companies, etc. If publishers burry their heads in the sand by refusing to experiment with new content, pricing models, and sales channels, then there will be serious trouble.

On the bright side, if publishers aggressively discuss new ways to sell content with their channel partners, and seek out non-traditional channel partners that have the audiences with the demand for their products, there is the potential, not to just maintain current revenue, but to actually grow the size of the pie. I know that is a radical statement to make, yet the ‘book’ is being redefined, and publishing is becoming something new.

Several key findings:

  • The majority of Top Ranked Global Publishers are based in Europe.
  • Professional/knowledge, STM publishers have course corrected and are doing well.
  • The first major Asian Publishers are positioning towards competing as top global players.
  • Education sector is unstable.
  • Trade Publishers are, and will be, hit the hardest in the rapidly emerging digital marketplace.
  • Publishers that have reinvented themselves…are prospering!

I have high hopes for the publishing industry. However, until we can meet Peter Drucker’s market-centric definition where he says “…the aim of marketing is to make selling superfluous. The aim of marketing is to know and understand the customer so well that the product or service fits him and sells itself.” Are we there yet? When we achieve this value statement the industry will once again be healthy. As for me…being part of the solution? I am passionate about helping our clients build a stronger publishing industry that is focused on improving the reading experience.

What are you thinking now?

*The “Global Ranking of the Publishing Industry” is an annual initiative of Livres Hebdo, Paris, researched by Ruediger Wischenbart Content and Consulting, and co-published with buchreport (Germany), The Bookseller (UK) and Publishers Weekly (US).

Follow Ted Treanor on Twitter: twitter.com/ePubDr

Remedies for Language Afterthought Syndrome: Lessons from Best Practices Profiles

Providing education on the business value of global information through our research is an important part of our content globalization practice. As we know however, the value of research is only as good as the results organizations achieve when they apply it! What really gets us jazzed is when knowledge sharing validates our thinking about what we call “universal truths” – the factors that define success for those who champion, implement and sustain organizational investment in multilingual communications.

Participants in our 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains told us that eliminating the language afterthought syndrome in their companies– a pattern of treating language requirements as secondary considerations within content strategies and solutions — would be a “defining moment” in realizing the impact of their efforts. Of course, we wanted more specifics. What would those defining moments look like? What would be the themes that characterized them? What would make up the “universal truths” about the remedies? Aggregating the answers to these questions led us to develop some key and common ingredients for success:

  • Promotion of “global thinking” within their own departments, across product content domains, and between headquartered and regional resources.
  • Strategies that balance inward-facing operational efficiency and cost reduction goals with outward-facing customer impacts.
  • Business cases and objectives carefully aligned with corporate objectives, creating more value in product content deliverables and more influence for product content teams.
  • Commitment to quality at the source, language requirements as part of status-quo information design, and global customer experience as the “end goal.”
  • Focused and steady progress on removing collaboration barriers within their own departments and across product content domains, effectively creating a product content ecosystem that will grow over time.
  • Technology implementations that enable standardization, automation, and interoperability.

Defining the ingredients naturally turned into sharing the recipes, a.k.a. a series of best practices profiles based on the experiences of individual technical documentation, training, localization/translation, or customer support professionals. Sincere appreciation goes to companies including Adobe, BMW Motorrad, Cisco, Hewlett Packard, Mercury Marine, Microsoft, and the New York City Department of Education, for enabling their product content champions to share their stories. Applause goes to the champions themselves, who continue to achieve ongoing and impressive results.

Want the details?
Download the Multilingual Product Content report
(updated with additional profiles!)

Attending Localization World, Silicon Valley?
Don’t miss Mary’s presentation on
Overcoming the Language Afterthought Syndrome
in the Global Business Best Practices track.

Integrated Solutions for the Global Content Value Chain: An Interview with STAR Group

Fourth in a series of interviews with sponsors of Gilbane’s 2009 study on Multilingual Product Content: Transforming Traditional Practices into Global Content Value Chains.

We spoke with Karl Darr, an independent consultant working with STAR Group.  STAR Group is a leader in information management, localization, internationalization, and globalization solutions that address the entire lifecycle of technical communications. Karl talked with us about the importance of addressing the global content value chain (GCVC) in a comprehensive way, STAR Group’s role in delivering such solutions, and what he found compelling about the research.

Gilbane: How does your company support the value chain for global product content? (i.e., what does your company do?)

Darr: STAR Group’s mission has been to enable companies to build a single product that they can sell, ship and support anywhere in the world, along with all of the appropriate technical and end-user support literature in the native tongue for any target market. In every case, we find that the customer’s satisfaction and their perception of a quality purchase are directly related to understanding their new product in their native language. 

Early on, STAR understood that a comprehensive, integrated solution could increase efficiency, while improving data quality and consistency.  So, rather than acquire and integrate third party solutions that were not designed to work together, STAR Group developed a seamlessly integrated, end-to-end solution suite that included tools to accelerate SGML/XML authoring productivity with increased quality, integrated with Terminology Management, workflow, content management, Translation Memory, and publishing – all subject to monitoring and leaving a complete audit trail. 

All of STAR’s technologies can be purchased as stand-alone products. They integrate and interoperate very well with other vendors’ products to provide a complete solution in mixed technology environments.  However, as you might expect, STAR’s complete suite affords uncommon degrees of added efficiency, accuracy, quality and operational cost reductions.

Gilbane: Why did you choose to sponsor the Gilbane research?

Darr: STAR Group co-sponsored this research because the GCVC concept speaks directly to the sweet spot on which STAR has focused for 25 years. STAR Group has provided technologies and services to support every step along the GCVC, from information engineering, creation, and cross-functional synchronization to translation, localization, management, and static and dynamic publication along with dialog management and reporting. 

Gilbane: What, in your opinion, is the most relevant/compelling/interesting result reported in the study?

Darr: The most relevant/compelling/interesting result reported in the study is that 70% of respondents claimed that the process of integrating their GCVC technologies was difficult at best.  What is even more surprising is that, according to the research, only 20% of respondents claimed they had API-level integration between their translation management and CMS tools.

In other words, respondents are suffering from the fact that the people responsible for globalization efforts are dealing with limited vision, scope and fragmented tool sets.  This causes ambiguities, duplications and errors that unnecessarily waste time, energy, resources and corporate profitability – while damaging product and corporate images, and at the same time weakening customer affiliations with the company.

I believe that this situation can only happen when top corporate management is more focused on getting product out the door than they are on optimizing the customer experience, which is critical to increasing profits.  When customer experience is a top priority, these companies will recognize that globalization (or the GCVC) is a manufacturing process in its own right that needs to be prioritized right along with design, engineering, production and customer support. The GCVC is not a ‘bolt-on’ solution because it needs to be intimately involved in all of these processes. As such, GCVC efforts need to start as soon as the product planning process begins, be fully engaged as customer specifications become requirements, and continue in a collaborative manner throughout the process of a project becoming a product.  But, they don’t end there either.  Ongoing multilingual product support is critical for delivering an optimal customer experience, one that results in repeat or recurring business.  Because all GCVC solutions will require ongoing maintenance and support, end-user companies need to ensure that whoever is providing support can cover the full spectrum of GVCV functions. 

Often, our discussions with companies have only begun when organizations understand the depth and breadth of the GCVC. In some cases, they end up relying on us for nearly everything – from their technical writing to translation, workflow, content management and publishing, to spare parts order management with optimized diagnostics delivery and dialog management.  Many of these organizations – some among the most successful global companies – have relegated the notion of a “document” to be an artifact of a by-gone era. 

For insights into technology integration across the GCVC, see the section on “Content Management Integration” that begins on page 32 of the report. You can also learn how STAR Group helped BMW Motorrad implement an end-to-end infrastructure for global technical communication. Download the study for free.

Webinar: Corporate Marketing as a Publishing Business

October 29, 11:00 am ET

Attracting, converting, and retaining customers is the mission of every corporate marketing organization. Content is obviously central to executing the mission. The key to success, though, isn’t just delivering content on websites — it’s leveraging content to wring out its maximum value for the business and the customer.

Leading publishers have deep expertise in solving the knottiest problems associated with leveraging content. How can corporate marketers put a publisher’s knowledge and experience to work in their own domain? We discuss the issues and trends with Diane Burley, Industry  Specialist at Nstein, in a lively online conversation. Attend Everyone is a Publisher: No Matter What Industry You’re In, and gain insights into solutions that top media companies have put into practice to survive the digital economy. Topics include:

  • Engaging customers with content, and metrics to gauge performance.
  • Managing corporate marketing and brand content from multiple sources.
  • Streamlining web content workflows.
  • Creating demographic-specific microsites.

Registration is open. Sponsored by NStein. 

Coming soon: a Gilbane Beacon on publishing as every organization’s second business.