«Andy Nilssen & David Dines Wainhouse Research June 2008 Wainhouse Research, LLC Study sponsored by: 34 Duck Hill Terrace Duxbury, MA 02332 USA ...»
Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies
for Business Gain
The Cisco WebEx Connect Enterprise
Andy Nilssen & David Dines
Wainhouse Research, LLC
Study sponsored by:
34 Duck Hill Terrace
Duxbury, MA 02332 USA
Web 2.0 and the Enterprise
Web 2.0 Defined
The Evolution of Web 2.0 from Consumer to Enterprise Use
Enterprise Use Cases
The Cisco WebEx Connect Offering
Web 2.0-driven Team Spaces
IM, Presence, and Rich Media Conferencing
Cisco’s Web 2.0 Strategy and Positioning
On-Demand AND On-Premise
The WebEx Connect Platform
Analysis & Conclusions
About the Authors
About Wainhouse Research
About Cisco WebEx
WR Paper: Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies for Business Gain Copyright © 2008 Wainhouse Research. All rights reserved.
Applying Metcalfe’s Law to the Conferencing-Enabled Enterprise Page 2 Introduction The adoption of Web 2.0 technologies has exploded in the consumer space, but businesses have been slower to embrace them due to a number of factors. While consumers have proven to be entertained by the ability to find and connect with new friends and contribute to community content, businesses are evaluating the technology to determine what business problems it can solve, if the technology is safe, secure, reliable, and how quickly and cost-effectively it can be deployed. The growing availability of Web 2.0 technologies is propelling a major shift in computing by enabling applications and services available in “the cloud”. As a result, businesses can begin to realize benefits from the web-as-a-platform model itself including rapid innovation. In this white paper, Wainhouse Research (WR) takes a comprehensive look at Cisco WebEx Connect for enterprises, which combines many Web 2.0 capabilities with the ability to be deployed as a service, and presents our take on how it fulfills the promise of realizing the potential of Web 2.0 capabilities for businesses.
Web 2.0 and the Enterprise Web 2.0 Defined Web 2.0 is a major technology trend that is affecting nearly every corner of the IT industry. It is arguably one of the most significant technology advances because it brings a new level of user contribution and involvement in web based applications and data. Interestingly, while receiving much attention in the trade press, Web 2.0’s definition is still being debated, and this debate will continue as there are fundamental differences in whether it is technology or a style of computing (Tim O’Reilly, who coined the term, considers Web 2.0 “An attitude more than a technology”). Despite this debate, the general use of Web
2.0 has become synonymous with applications like blogs and wikis, social network sites, and photo / video sharing sites. However, these are applications based on the technology and not the technology itself. The enabling technologies, like RSS (Really Simple Syndication), AJAX (Asynchronous Java and XML) and REST (Representational State Transfer) are not the whole Web 2.0 story either. A broader view of Web 2.0 is to look at it by its components and themes (see figure). To put a sharper point on the definition, WR considers Web 2.0 to be the current generation of web-based technologies and applications that enable more interactivity and collaboration using the Source: Markus Angermeier, en.wikipedia.org/wiki web. Scoping Web 2.0 Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies for Business Gain Page 1 Web 2.0 is a group of technologies and methods of delivering services that are enabling some fundamental game changes in web usage and business models. One such outcome is that the web can be the computing platform – there is no need to invest in servers because applications can be hosted in “the cloud”, eliminating boundaries across geographies or organizations. Software is delivered as a continually updated service without the need for software licensing or maintenance. Web 2.0 technologies enable the active participation of users, which results in harnessing the collective wisdom of groups instead of just a few people. These technologies simplify access to and remixing of data from multiple sources (mashups) to create new ways of looking at things and (perhaps) new business processes.
A handful of web sites powered by Web 2.0 have become wildly popular with consumers as they provide an unprecedented level of simplicity in enabling users to socialize with friends online, make plans, and share news, opinions, photos, and videos. This same functionality has the potential to bring real benefits to enterprises and thus is poised to help transform enterprise collaboration and business processes.
The Evolution of Web 2.0 from Consumer to Enterprise Use
There are major forces that are pushing enterprises to use Web 2.0. They include:
• Globalization – Companies must compete on a global scale spanning geographies, time zones, and cultures. Therefore, they must increase innovation and speed to address a worldwide marketplace, increase the coordination between and productivity of employees across the globe, and provide service with 24/7/365 availability in all markets.
• Rise of the knowledge worker – Knowledge workers are becoming a larger share of the global workforce, and they need the latest generation of tools to maximize their effectiveness. As processes have increasingly become data driven – such as harvesting web page clicks and turning them into potential sales leads – knowledge workers are facing the challenge of accessing, mining, and sharing this vast amount of data for business gain.
• Distributed organizations – As a corollary to globalization and knowledge workers, and in part to save relocation expenses and be family friendly, companies are increasingly relying on geographically dispersed teams, telework, and working from home offices. Compounding this distributed organization effect is the expanding use of resources outside of the organization. The trend towards outsourcing specialized competencies increases the need to share information and collaborate with members of a larger team that extends beyond the corporate firewall. At the same time, these teams are expected to be at least as productive as a local one.
• Consumers are employees also – Employees that are exposed to these Web 2.0 tools in their personal lives will use them for business purposes as well. This is understandable as consumers are becoming accustomed to the pace of innovation and level of flexibility afforded by Web 2.0 and would naturally expect to have to have the same level of “service” inside their organization. If the employer does not provide the tools, then employees are likely to start using the consumer version, which can cause major data security issues. This has already begun; many employees are already expressing their views on their own blogs. Additionally, Facebook has over 22,000 company networks on its site, and 90% of the Fortune 1000 is represented. Therefore it is very likely that employees are already conducting company business with these tools. Furthermore, it is very unlikely that the senior managers at these companies are aware of the Facebook network Leveraging Web 2.0 Technologies for Business Gain Page 2 and even fewer sanctioned the use of the site for company business. As a result, access to unprotected, proprietary information contained in these networks could become exposed to the general public.
• Changing demographics – Generation “Y” (people in their early 20’s) is entering the workforce in significant numbers and is more than comfortable with Web 2.0 tools. They will expect – or more likely demand – that their employers keep up with the latest technology.
As a result, enterprises are taking a serious look at implementing Web 2.0 capabilities in a way that is compatible with business practices. They are attracted by the potential to become more efficient and productive by improving collaboration and team processes, people search, data search and discovery, data / content publishing and individual and team communication.
Enterprise Use Cases The major use cases of Web 2.0 by enterprises revolve around two areas: a) improving discrete business processes such as lead generation, RFP responses, financial approvals, etc., and b) improving the transaction points between these discrete processes. Web 2.0 technologies can remove the information and communication bottlenecks in these two areas by enabling collaboration involving virtual teams, transactional workflows, data search and discovery, and employee / expert search.
Enterprises are looking to enable “frictionless” collaboration – the ability for teams to focus on the task at hand without worrying about housekeeping matters and inter-process hand-offs such as searching for data, shuffling documents, or requiring traditional communication between with team members. Web 2.0’s blogs, wikis and RSS feeds – when used in combination with synchronous (rich media conferencing, IM & presence) and asynchronous (team spaces, persistent chat, alerts, wikis, blogs) communications can bring enterprises closer to realizing this “frictionless” ideal. These same technologies can be used to help drive efficiencies in general workflows by collapsing interactions between the discrete steps in business processes and their transitions as illustrated below. For example, by having sales, product teams, finance and legal working off a common collaboration platform, the time to complete the entire Page 3 Copyright © 2008 Wainhouse Research, LLC workflow can be greatly reduced – especially in the transactional stages where the tools are weak today.
Using a common platform delivers other benefits to IT as well such as reducing administrative and training costs and insuring that the process is served on a trusted platform (security, authentication, etc).
Furthermore, additional Web 2.0 capabilities such as loading and searching personal data (profiles) and sharing bookmarked data can help to streamline the process of locating data and experts within an organization as well as across companies.
While consumer web services have some privacy and security controls, they are not built to the same standards as enterprise applications. There are many examples of mistakes and exploitive hacks that have compromised the security of content 1. In addition, since these sites have opened their platforms for third party developers, the incidence of malware has increased significantly. The consumer platforms also do not have the same standards for authenticating and administrating policy for users. Therefore, any enterprise using a consumer Web 2.0 site to host applications or store information runs a significant risk of having that information compromised.
Furthermore, consumer sites, while geared for high volume, have no quality-of-service (QoS) guarantees, so businesses cannot rely on them for critical or important applications. Recent outages and slowdowns on Twitter (a micro-blogging site) and other popular sites are reminders of this issue.
Enterprises also need to be able to manage, configure and backup their applications, integrate them with their existing databases, their infrastructure, and ultimately, incorporate them into their existing processes. For example, most IT departments want to be able to use their existing directory (typically LDAP or Active Directory) to simplify user authentication and insure permissions are given only to active employees. Since the consumer web sites are designed to be stand-alone with no intent to be integrated See www.tools4facebook.com – while Facebook is used as an example, it is not the only site with security issues
Corporations need to comply with multiple regulations, such as Sarbanes-Oxley, and must have processes in place to audit and preserve certain information. The public oriented Web 2.0 tools are simply not designed for this and are lacking in capabilities.
The Cisco WebEx Connect Offering With the stage set, what does Cisco WebEx Connect really look like? Does it deliver up to its potential?
How is it different from its software counterparts? Does it suffer from revision 1.0 syndrome or is it ready for business-critical use? With all of these questions in mind, WR took WebEx Connect for a test drive by using it as a collaboration vehicle in the development of this paper. This section of this paper is based in part on our hands-on experiences..
Signing up for a WebEx Connect account, installing the client, and getting it up and ready to use is very straightforward. In our case, the client downloaded and installed in about three minutes (no re-boot required). Enterprise IT organizations can elect to have the client pre-installed with the enterprise’s standard software distribution and automatically updated per their extablished policy. Once installed and launched, the WebEx Connect client asks for the user’s ID and password, then detects and integrates with Microsoft Outlook (2000 SP4 or later) to access your scheduled meetings and address book.
Installation is complete.
When first started, the WebEx Connect client appears as a streamlined IM client. Three big tabs appear across the top of the window – “Contacts”, “Spaces” and “Calendar”. “Contacts”, which is initially open, displays the user’s contact list along with their presence-based availability. “Spaces” opens to reveal the shared workspaces to which the user has been invited and given permission to access. “Calendar” is used to display a list of and/or schedule upcoming Outlook and WebEx meetings; view the presence status of and send IM or email reminders to meeting attendees; and schedule, start, or join WebEx meetings.
Web 2.0-driven Team Spaces Where WebEx Connect has the potential to shine is in the application of Web 2.0 technologies to meld together real-time rich media communication with shared workspaces. WebEx Connect’s shared workspaces deliver the core capabilities to enable asynchronous team collaboration in a manner that is not only well integrated with real-time communications, but also with how people work on-line and collaborate using files today.