In a press release this morning, Metalogix announced that it has acquired Axceler, including products, employees, assets and brands from the company's very successful and profitable SharePoint business, positioning Metalogix as the fastest growing SharePoint-focused Independent Software Vendor (ISV) in the world. The entire press release is available here, and an FAQ can be found here.
As the evangelist for Axceler, I am proud of the innovation and community impact we've made to date -- and am excited about the opportunity in front of us. While Metalogix and Axceler have competed in some product areas, it has always been a friendly competition -- with a history of working together to serve our shared customers with the best SharePoint solutions on the market. Steven Murphy, CEO of Metalogix, identifies within this morning's press release, "The addition of the leading SharePoint Governance and Administration management product to Metalogix offering extends our range, reach and leadership in the strategic SharePoint governance market segment. This investment is another milestone in our strategy to provide customers the best-of-breed content infrastructure software to deploy, operate and protect their Microsoft SharePoint platform, on-premise or in the cloud.”
At the core of Axceler's sales and marketing messaging has always been the "best-of-breed" approach, partnering with other category-leading ISVs to provide our customers with the tools needed to manage, extend, and support SharePoint. But as my former CEO at Axceler, Mike Alden, states, "SharePoint administrators are increasingly seeking single-source technology providers who can provide exceptional technology and offer comprehensive, global 24x7 support. The integration of Axceler’s SharePoint business with Metalogix is a natural evolution of the market and will drive significant value for those managing contemporary SharePoint environments.”
With this acquisition, Metalogix becomes the premier solution provider for SharePoint administrators and stakeholders, offering the most comprehensive set of SharePoint solutions on the market:
- Content Matrix 6 is the latest version of the most-widely used migration platform on the market, and was recently recognized as KMWorld's 2013 Trend Setting Product of the Year.
- StoragePoint is the award-winning leader in BLOB storage, helping customers reduce the size of their content databases and better control 'site sprawl.'
- Replicator is another recipient of KMWorld's Trendsetting Products (2012) and continues to be the leader in its category for managing content across disparate systems.
- ControlPoint for SharePoint Administration has been the industry-leading governance and administration tool since 2008, winning every major SharePoint award and currently managing over 14 million SharePoint users.
In addition, Metalogix offers powerful solutions for archiving, backup and restore, file share and email migration, and content and metadata management. With over 13,000 customers, in 86 countries on 7 continents, Metalogix is -- by far -- the fastest growing SharePoint-focused ISV in the world, and I am excited to be part of this next chapter.
To learn more about Metalogix products, please visit: www.metalogix.com/powerfulcombination
As more and more organizations begin to realize the business benefits of collaboration, the need for accurate measurements and analytics increases: How are people collaborating? Was my social collaboration deployment successful? Is it driving more business, better customer service, improved team communication, or any other business value metrics? The latest Forrester survey results indicate that enterprises are investing more now than ever in business intelligence (BI) platforms -- but are these initiatives successful in helping improve collaboration overall?
Different people consume data in different ways -- some prefer spreadsheets, pivot charts, and tried-and-true database management techniques to capture, massage, and analyze complex data. For organizations who rely heavily on structured collaboration platforms like SharePoint, or even unstructured collaboration tools like Yammer or Tibbr, it is becoming increasingly important for power users, administrators, and leadership teams alike to be able to capture, track, and represent what is happening within their collaboration platforms. Data visualizations are increasingly the "norm" in how we share complex data, whether through dynamic Excel graphics or detailed infographics. The goal is to make this data more user-friendly and consumable for stakeholders, and show where collaboration is successfully driving the business forward.
In our third official tweetjam, we gathered a panel of experts to answer a series of questions using Twitter as a platform, with many additional people joining into the conversation as it flowed online. If you've never participated in a tweet jam, they usually run about an hour during which our panel and the community use a common hash tag (#CollabTalk) to discuss our defined questions. During this event, we received just over 500 tweets from 12 official panel members, and another dozen or more unofficial panelists and active observers within the community. The graphic shows the reach, exposure (tweet impressions) and activity of this event:
You can find the complete Twitter stream history on www.twubs.com/CollabTalk, but the following is a summary of some of the more engaging responses (measured by re-tweets and feedback from participants), and hopefully gives you some perspective on each question to take back and apply to your own social collaboration initiatives (and feel free to re-tweet them!):
Question 1: How much does business intelligence play into your day-to-day collaboration activities?
- @Mysharepoint It makes it much easier to get a quick overview of most relevant facts and data #CollabTalk
- @Tvbokkem hardly any role. Seen very few customers that raise useful info with BI. #CollabTalk
- @Diverdown1964 speaking for the market, I think not near enough. Most don't understand what is possible, or think it is too difficult. #CollabTalk
- @WonderLaura BI doesn't play a role in my daily activities, but I can definitely think of ways that my day could be more efficient w/ it. #CollabTalk
- @Bradgcoza We provide BI dashboards to many clients and its business critical these days, where as before it was nice swishy GUI #CollabTalk
- @Diverdown1964 not near enough. Most don't understand what is possible, or think it is too difficult. #CollabTalk
- @StephenTech911 If you asked this question of "non-BI" people they might not even know they are looking at it. #CollabTalk
- @Mysharepoint I see value, but the customers systems are not ready to provide good info. General BI problem. #CollabTalk
- @Rizinsights Much of the #BI we're collecting, observing, reporting on is critical business info, so we collaborate a LOT with it #CollabTalk
Question 2: How important are dashboards, pivot charts, and other data visualizations to your organization today?
- @Tvbokkem popular, but implementation is very fragmented. #CollabTalk
- @Mysharepoint Lot's of data analysis is done within Excel #CollabTalk
- @WonderLaura "Dashboards" are the buzzword. People usually want them and then don't know what exactly they want displayed #CollabTalk
- @sharepointlhorn Critical. We measure ourselves daily/weekly. Teams can't know that they are winning if they can't see the score. #Collabtalk
- @corywilliams59 Dashboards seem to be requested by Project Teams all the time, that is certainly a big winner #CollabTalk
- @Rizinsights Can't stress their importance enough. We're dead without the information #CollabTalk
- @AlistairPugin Its Pivotal. Our biggest challenge is pulling data from closed systems. #CollabTalk
- @nmoneypenny Visuals are very important to how we understand data, Drucker said that which does not get measured doesn't get managed #collabtalk
- @buckleyplanet in the mid-90's, my task was building "decision support systems" for my company. We seem to have moved away from this goal #CollabTalk
- @StephenTech911 Bad dashboards are as bad as bad PowerPoints #CollabTalk
- @AlistairPugin You cannot manage what you cannot measure. Most projects never measure the opportunity cost upfront #CollabTalk
- @nmoneypenny Like to think of dashboards as management operating system for a company, the key metrics need to be there & understood #collabtalk
- @Diverdown1964 neat tools are nothing until you decide how you will use it first #CollabTalk
- @johnpuopolo for an excellent discussion on this topic, see 'The Lean Startup' #CollabTalk
Question 3: Has the amount or type of data that your company captures changed or increased in recent years?
- @Bradgcoza I think if the amount of data has not increased something is wrong #CollabTalk
- @Tvbokkem increased tremendously, but still can't answer that one question some individual asks. #CollabTalk
- @corywilliams59 Yes its increased but there seems to be a lack in understanding how to analyze it appropriately #CollabTalk
- @Bradgcoza The type of data is usually the same, but there are trends into related data which is starting to make things interesting #CollabTalk
- @HoardingInfo is it a matter of more data or measuring more things? The data was always their even if you did not collect it #CollabTalk
- @Mysharepoint but often we have lot's of data but no clue what information to get back from them - asking the right questions ... #CollabTalk
- @Joelle_Shmoelle The amount of data might actually be less but all of the places you go to find data in an org has definitely increased. #CollabTalk
- @Tvbokkem The problem with collecting data is, that you still do not know what questions will be asked in the future. #CollabTalk
- @buckleyplanet Big Data does NOT equal BI #CollabTalk
- @nmoneypenny We've added more analytics to same data. We filter data more, e.g. more stages in sales pipeline to drive meaningful visuals #collabtalk
- @Rizinsights Remember folks, it's how you use the information, not how you collect it. #CollabTalk
Question 4: What three trends are impacting your data usage?
- @Rizinsights Demand, expectations, collaboration, #CollabTalk
- @Bradgcoza Adoption Collaboration and Requirements #CollabTalk
- @buckleyplanet 1) the increase in data through social, 2) heightened concerns over data integrity, 3) economic uncertainty #CollabTalk
- @HoardingInfo need for more actionable data, reducing time to analyze, and consistency across sources #CollabTalk
- @Joelle_Shmoelle Mobile, Mobile, and Mobile Dashboards! Seriously though more and more users demand information at their fingertips #CollabTalk
- @sharepointlhorn Better data quality (MDM), Visualization usability, comparative analytics available using Big Data sources #Collabtalk
- @nmoneypenny Trend 1: Data quality, how to clean data automatically without throwing good data out from bad model #collabtalk
- @nmoneypenny Trend 2: New sources of data coming online, sensors creating too much data to process fast enough and store #collabtalk
- @nmoneypenny Trend 3: For our machine learning apps, predictive analytics can help spot where you need more data/better data to augment #collabtalk
Question 5: How important, if at all, is the artistic aspect of data visualization to successful collaboration?
- @Rizinsights Artistic must be synonymous with consumption; make it easy to interpret and understand, or its useless #CollabTalk
- @HoardingInfo wow, first thought that was a strange question, but there is no doubt that aesthetics are important to adoption #CollabTalk
- @Joelle_Shmoelle Well, do you want C-level buy in? After the data integrity & usage is tested the design should be the next big focus. #CollabTalk
- @sharepointlhorn Users\data consumers want pretty charts. More than that, they want easy to use powerful tools that are pretty #Collabtalk
- @Bradgcoza oh and if it doesn't work on an ipad you might as well not do it #swishybi #CollabTalk
- @buckleyplanet think of how data is now reported and shared in magazines, online. everything is an infographic #CollabTalk
- @Diverdown1964 Visualization is key, but when it's about the artistry, the message can get lost. Form must follow function #CollabTalk
- @StephenTech911 The good and bad of BI, it is easy to have pretty but bad info, but ugly is never good. #CollabTalk
- @nmoneypenny Art implies something more meaningful than sum of its parts. Aesthetics help with comprehension, but too many data detracts #collabtalk
- @Diverdown1964 Daily it's, boring old bar charts, etc. Very easy to spot trends, or deviations with a known commodity #CollabTalk
- @AlistairPugin Operational data is what is business critical, a view on what the organization is doing right there, right now #CollabTalk
- @Bradgcoza I prefer to look at data in pictures be that as a KPI or Graph or Infographic but it needs to make sense quickly #CollabTalk
- @nmoneypenny For successful collaboration, shared vision & understanding is critical, so being on same page/same visual critical #collabtalk
- @Mysharepoint the main question/guideline should be does the user gets the message or the info needed #CollabTalk
Question 6: What is the role of business intelligence in your company's overall collaboration strategy?
- @buckleyplanet I find most companies separate BI from collaboration. Quantitative vs Qualitative activities. No touchy #CollabTalk
- @sharepointlhorn daily? are we trending up or down. a simple line or bar chart is all most people need. Fast, clean, easy. #CollabTalk
- @Mysharepoint slowly growing but more and more important - #CollabTalk
- @nmoneypenny BI provides a way to identify problems, create understanding and the opportunity for collaborative problem solving. #collabtalk
- @TavisLovell To disseminate information so that the right conversations can be had/sparked. #collabtalk
- @AlistairPugin BI is definitely in a different space, in its own box, tucked away behind all the geeks and accountants #CollabTalk
- @nmoneypenny An issue though is the data have/have nots, you see what you have permission for, so only part of elephant can hamper insight #collabtalk
- @Tvbokkem Everywhere consistent terminology and data makes collaboration a pleasure. #CollabTalk
- @sharepointlhorn That said, BI is a critical success factor. It allows us to know what we are doing well & where corrective action is required #Collabtalk
Question 7: Is there a connection between data visualization and end user engagement?
- @AlistairPugin Its mandatory, people will not engage effectively without proper visualization #CollabTalk
- @TavisLovell I think there absolutely is, a picture can be worth 1000 rows of data :P #CollabTalk
- @buckleyplanet so much of the topic of "gamification" is really about surfacing data to incentivize end users #CollabTalk
- @HoardingInfo it has to be built bottom up this way, but yes. Will use example of Sane box that compared my email to the average user #CollabTalk
- @StephenTech911 I think there definitely is, a good visualization can capture attention quickly but encourage exploration. #CollabTalk
- @Joelle_Shmoelle Especially for the engagement of managers, department heads etc., the two are almost synonymous. #CollabTalk
- @Mysharepoint definitely - a good visual of data will engage the users #CollabTalk
- @WonderLaura Oooh that's a deep one. I think yes. Seeing the data help to know how to work more efficiently day to day. #CollabTalk
- @Tvbokkem Retrieving response is all about increasing the speed of info-processing. If you can sledge that barrier you win. #CollabTalk
- @Diverdown1964 If you can give users the answers they need in a timely fashion, they'll engage in a big hurry. #CollabTalk
- @StephenTech911 Engagement has to encourage exploration. The picture can rarely tell the whole story #CollabTalk
- @nmoneypenny Infographics sic show us that primary engagement on soc networks is stimulated by photos. #Gamification trend of BI metrics #collabtalk
- @nmoneypenny What are we trying to get end users engaged about? eg Sales BI, look for underserved segments, recent growth, visuals key! #collabtalk
I'd like to once again thank everyone who participated in this event, and hopefully all involved were able to get some benefit from the discussion. We've created an easy-to-follow CollabTalk list on Twitter that includes all of those who have participated in one of our tweetjam panels. We're already planning our next tweetjam, so be sure to follow @Axceler on Twitter or subscribe to our blog to stay connected.
In my final presentation at last week's SPTechCon conference in Boston on the topic of social collaboration governance, I walked attendees through an overview of key SharePoint governance concepts, and then began to discuss the complexities involved with managing the social interactions within, and between, SharePoint and Yammer. For those organizations still in the dark about how to approach the social collaboration question, the fact that neither platform provides, out-of-the-box, the sort of governance and administration capabilities that most CIOs want and need for compliance to corporate governance standards is a cause for concern.
While the mantra of social software companies is for "open collaboration" with as few regulations or controls as possible, companies with strong regulatory, compliance, or discovery requirements have been slow to broadly adopt these new capabilities -- even though they may hold the answer to many known end user adoption or engagement issues. Until the SharePoint and Yammer teams can answer these customer needs for strong and actionable analytics, combined with key management capabilities, social will continue to be a "nice to have" feature set for many CIOs. In short, their companies need to have some degree of visibility and control over their social collaboration platforms, allowing them to roll out social enterprise-wide.
Social collaboration drives end user engagement, pure and simple. In her article for WebsiteMagazine entitled The Automation of Social, Pam Kostka, CMO of VirtuOz, discusses the accelerating need of businesses to leverage social interactions as a way to improve customer interactions. End users are increasingly using consumer-based social networking platforms to communicate with, and share experiences about, the companies they do business with. This is both exciting and scary -- especially if you don’t have the tools in place to monitor and respond to these end user interactions. For example, there are tools which allow you to monitor any mentions of your company brand across the public Twitter and Facebook airwaves, allowing you to quickly respond -- and even automate some of your responses.
However, within the enterprise, its not enough to simply see what people are discussing or how they are collaborating. What is needed is the ability to guide and direct end users toward secure and compliant activities -- without interrupting or discouraging their collaboration.
Ms. Kostka makes three salient points in her article:
- Consumers are increasingly using social tools.
- Companies are ill-prepared.
- The number of companies providing automation tools is growing rapidly.
This last point, in my mind, is the most important indicator that the market is pushing for solutions beyond what the social collaboration vendors are providing out-of-the-box. While Ms. Kostka's focus is almost entirely on the companies that provide tools for content optimization and monitoring -- companies like SocialFlow, CrowdBooster, Prosodic, and Adobe Social, along with heavyweights in the web content management space like HubSpot (publishing, SEO optimization) and Webtrends (analytics) -- her focus is almost entirely on the surface activities within social, rather than the deeper collaboration relationships and influence that drives the success of platforms such as Yammer. It's one thing to track the consumer social platforms for product or brand mentions, but another thing to build a comprehensive set of tools that allow you to monitor and automate responses, measure adoption and engagement, track influence and message amplification, and then create and manage governance strategies based on all of the data you've captured.
Automating is not just about passive listening, but in taking the data and doing something with it.
The same can be said for what is needed within SharePoint and Yammer social collaboration activities. We need more than an "internal search engine optimization" tool for social collaboration. We need a platform that allows an organization to monitor the level of engagement of its users and encourage appropriate behavior and actions, and then to restrict inappropriate behavior and actions. How this is defined will vary broadly between companies -- but companies require the ability to establish and enforce their own governance policies. And few companies have the experience to successfully deliver such a platform.
For those unfamiliar with Axceler's long history in the collaboration space, the company has been delivering industry-leading governance and administration solutions since 1994, beginning with the Lotus Notes platform. Axceler was one of the most successful ISVs in the Lotus Notes community for many years, with numerous award-winning solutions. As the market for Lotus Notes decreased and SharePoint began to win market share, Axceler was able to leverage more than a decade of experience to create what quickly became the leading governance and administration tool for the SharePoint platform: ControlPoint, which a year later went on win Best Product at TechEd, followed by every other major SharePoint award. For many within the SharePoint partner community, Axceler's success seemed meteoric, but for the team it was just a matter of taking our years of governance and administration experience and applying that knowledge and expertise to another platform.
And now, with the rise of social collaboration within the enterprise, Axceler has once again leveraged our rich history and expertise to release the first-to-market analytics and governance solution for SharePoint and Yammer -- ViewPoint Enterprise. While some of the features, and certainly the platforms (Yammer) are new, Axceler is once again leveraging almost two decades of governance and administration experience to bring to market a powerful and dynamic analytics and governance platform, providing a federated view of social activities across both SharePoint and Yammer.
If I can address Ms. Kostka's three points: Companies are increasingly using social tools, because social collaboration is an effective method for getting teams to talk, to share, and innovate. Companies are ill-prepared for this shift, because the leading platforms are focused on delivering features to encourage collaboration -- and are not focusing on governance and management issues they view as restricting that collaboration. The number of companies providing automation tools may be growing rapidly, but only one company has the decades of experience with a central focus on SharePoint and Yammer: that company is Axceler.
We have a global team that would love to tell you more about what we're doing. If you've not yet seen ViewPoint Enterprise, there is a free version available online at www.Axceler.io. There is no download -- it’s a pure cloud platform that connects right to your corporate Yammer environment. Try it today, and start building your governance strategy for the social collaboration revolution!
According to the latest Forrester survey results, enterprises are placing a high priority on business intelligence (BI)platforms, in many circumstances adding this capability to established collaboration environments such as SharePoint. A major component of many BI strategies is to abstract the visual representation of what can be very complex data, making the content more consumable and manageable by the masses. For example, a company many use geographical heat mapping to illustrate the size and impact of customer issues, allowing managers and front line workers an easier way to review massive amounts of customer data and quickly flag any "hot spots" which may be the result of regional issues.
Increasingly, these kinds of data visualizations and "infographics" are being used within established collaboration platforms to help data owners quickly convey important information, and to allow people to interact and share that data. For example, the Axceler team created an infographic to better disseminate the results of our year-long SharePoint governance survey.
In our third official Axceler TweetJam on August 21st, we will be tackling the theme of "The Growing Importance of Data Visualization in Collaboration" from 7-8am PT / 10-11am ET / 3-4pm UMT. What is a tweet jam, you ask? A panel of subject matter experts (SMEs) participate in a 1-hour Twitter dialog during which they discuss a series of questions, with all comments tweeted out using the hash tag #CollabTalk so that anyone can easily follow along, and even participate in the conversation. The dialog can move fairly quickly, but no worries: we will capture all of the comments and make them available to you later.
During this event, we'll ask our panelists the following questions:
- How much does business intelligence play into your day-to-day collaboration activities?
- How important are dashboards, pivot charts, and other data visualizations to your organization today?
- Has the amount or type of data that your company captures changed or increased in recent years?
- What three trends are impacting your data usage?
- How important, if at all, is the artistic aspect of data visualization to successful collaboration?
- What is the role of business intelligence in your company's overall collaboration strategy?
- Is there a connection between data visualization and end user engagement?
Joining our panel for this tweetjam are a variety of experts on collaboration, business intelligence, and social:
- Bradley Geldenhuys (@bradgcoza ), SharePoint Jedi at GTConsult
- Eric Riz (@rizinsights), EVP at Concatenate Inc and SharePoint MVP
- Michael Greth (@mysharepoint), SharePoint Specialist and community leader, SharePoint MVP
- John White (@diverdown1964), CTO at UnlimitedViz
- Alistair Pugin (@alistairpugin), Solutions Architect and SharePoint MVP
- Donna Shaw (@donnasueshaw), principal product manager at Axceler, formerly part of the SharePoint social experiences product management team at Microsoft
- Laura Rogers (@wonderlaura), Manager of SharePoint Technical Consultants at Rackspace
- Jason Himmelstein (@sharepointlhorn), Sr. Technical Director at Atrion and co-author of Developing Business Intelligence Apps for SharePoint
- Eric Overfield (@ericoverfield), Founder and CEO at PixelMill
- Adrian Lloyd (@adilloyd), EMEA Alliances, Partners and Channel at Ektron
- Tavis Lovell (@tavislovell), SharePoint Developer at Rackspace
- John Puopolo (@johnpuopolo), CTO at Axceler
- With your host Christian Buckley (@buckleyplanet), SharePoint MVP and evangelist for Axceler
We will be adding a few more names to the panel in the next week, but if you would like to participate, you can join us at http://twubs.com/CollabTalk or simply by following the hash tag #CollabTalk on Twitter between 7am and 8am PT / 10am and 11am ET / 3pm and 4pm UMT on August 21st. If you would like to add your own comments, just include the hash tag in your tweets.
It’s hard to believe SPTechConBoston 2013 is right around the corner. Two and a half years ago, SPTechCon was my first opportunity to observe how our team interacted with our clients after joining Axceler. Something that really stood out to me that night was how deeply invested everyone from Axceler was in our customer relationships - from Sales to Product Management, Marketing to our Executive team.
Back Bay Social Club SPTechCon Boston 2011 (Click here to register for this year: conta.cc/1cgBnoO)
It’s interesting to reflect on the past couple of years and think about how we’ve evolved as an organization, particularly our products and customer offerings. A few weeks ago I had a conversation with Erin Glenn, the SharePoint Team Lead at Goodwill Industries and one of our very first clients.
Goodwill Industries of Central Virginia is part of a network of 165 community-based, autonomous member organizations in the United States and Canada. Goodwill’s work and mission are focused on long-term employment solutions for persons with disabilities and individuals with social and economic disadvantages. To fund its mission, Goodwill Industries of Central Virginia collects donated clothing, household items, computers, and automobiles to sell in its 20 retail stores, two outlets, and at weekly auctions. In 2012, Goodwill served over 16,000 individuals throughout Central Virginia and Hampton Roads through career development, training, and support services.
Erin has been part of the Axceler customer community since 2008, therefore could speak to what has changed over the years - and what hasn’t.
Erin shared her initial thoughts on Axceler:
“Even though Axceler was new, the attentiveness that Sales and Product Management gave me to understand what I was looking for was huge.”
As well as her opinion on Axceler five years later:
“I’ve been a customer for a long time and that hasn’t changed. As a tool, ControlPoint speaks for itself but it’s the Axceler people that make it a winner in my eyes…
…It’s never just a Sales call, it’s a Solutions call.”
Through all the accomplishments and benchmarks we’ve achieved over the years, it’s nice to know that the core of what made us a success initially still remains the same.
Read Erin’s full story http://info.axceler.com/Portals/61447/docs/goodwill_case_study.pdf
Existing Axceler customers can view our full Case Study library along with detailed product guides, common ControlPoint use cases and complimentary Axceler Academy training videos all from within our Customer Portal. https://support.axceler.com/home
For details on Axceler’s full suite of ControlPoint Products please visit: http://www.axceler.com/products/index
I was one week into my new position and this conference was my first opportunity to introduce the Customer Success team our customers and the company – while just starting to forge my own relationships with both.
This year we’re holding our evening event at The Back Bay Social Club (conta.cc/1cgBnoO ), the same location where I originally observed how our team interacted with our clients.
It’s been quite a year at Axceler so far where we’ve seen record growth and an influx of great brands joining us for the ride!
In just three years, we’ve tripled our customer base – which demonstrates to me that organizations are seeing the business value of a strong collaborating strategy and are therefore, more willing to make the investment in the necessary software such as SharePoint and Yammer. With more and more brands adopting Enterprise Social Networks (ESN), the importance of governance strategies for business collaboration has become a major priority for organizations.
In fact, just this year, major brands such as Bank of New York (BNY Mellon), British American Tobacco, DuPont, Saks Incorporated, Fruit of the Loom, MetLife Inc. and PerkinElmer have made an investment in Axceler to incorporate governance strategies and collaboration tools for ESNs like SharePoint and Yammer, into their organizations.
It’s also become apparent to our customers that access to a birds-eye, unified view of an entire organization’s collaboration platform adoption and engagement efforts is crucial to the success of business. In just the past three months, we already provide over 300,000 Yammer users with the support of our pre-release of ViewPoint Enterprise solution.
Looking back at the past 16 quarters, the growing enterprise demand for collaboration governance solutions has allowed us to steadily grow our business with consecutive quarter growth driven in part by a 25 percent two year increase in average sales price. We now live in a world where collaboration tools that help increase productivity are expected from employees and as businesses struggle to manage these tools, we’re continuing to adapt our solutions to meet their needs.
It’s been a fun ride so far and I can’t wait to see where we go next.
One of the driving forces behind the proliferation of SharePoint environments, historically, has been how relatively easy it has been to deploy. In the early days of SharePoint, a common scenario was that a team or a business unit felt blocked (real or perceived) by their own IT organization when asking for new features or quick turnaround on portal modifications. Instead, these teams were able to install SharePoint with minimal effort, and using out-of-the-box capabilities, provide powerful collaboration capabilities very quickly. Over time, these "rogue" SharePoint environments became bigger and bigger, and as executives began to realize the benefits of the platform, they demanded that the centralized IT team take ownership and consolidate. Sound familiar? Of course, a major problem with SharePoint deployments has been the propensity to repeat the old centralized portal model that people fought against in the first place.
When looking across the many SharePoint administration and governance gaps, the team here at Axceler has tried to focus on solving some of the biggest problems with the platform. To be fair, many of SharePoint's problem have nothing to do with the platform itself, but with how organizations deploy and use it. Whether your organization has the time and the resources to build out and manage SharePoint -- within Microsoft's prescribed patterns for optimal performance -- has been an issue since the beginning of the platform, and so Axceler has worked diligently to make the platform more manageable. The solution? Distributed management using ControlPoint for SharePoint Administration.
Limiting What You See
As a SharePoint Farm Administrator, you may need full-access to a single or to multiple farms, allowing you to manage company-wide resources and permissions, as well as deploy solutions and run reports that scale across your environments. However, a Site Collection Administrator only needs to see a sub-set of those capabilities -- maybe running reports and managing permissions in a similar way, but to a controlled set of site collections and related sub-sites. Similarly, a Site Administrator will not need the full set of controls that a Farm or Site Collection Admin has access to, and their visibility should be limited to the sites for which they are responsible.
ControlPoint offers the unique ability to provide limited delegation of administrative controls, meeting the needs of all SharePoint roles and stakeholders based on their management requirements. While not a new feature within ControlPoint, with the complexity of SharePoint growing over subsequent releases, and with more and more organizations trying to find tools to help them manage SharePoint across hybrid environments (with both on-premises and cloud-based environments), the need for the distributed management capabilities in ControlPoint are even more relevant today than in the past.
The idea is simple enough: using SharePoint groups and permissions, provide a purpose-based interface for all levels of administration, as well as for power users and other key stakeholders. Just expose the information that is important to a certain role within SharePoint, and optimize the management perspective based on need. As you can see from the images below, the amount you can see -- and the administrative controls you have access to -- are determined by your level of access.
In this example, the Farm Admin has access to the entire environment on the left, shown here with the farm open (SarahB) at the top, each of the web apps and site collections underneath, and the Alpha Snack Foods site and its components visible.
For the Site Admin on the right, we have a more limited view of the Alpha Snack Foods site. Accordingly, all administration and governance controls will also be more limited, set up only for those tasks that a Site Admin will need for that role.
Streamlining the Management Experience
Distributed management is all about offloading administrative responsibilities to the site collection and site owners who own and drive SharePoint activities on a daily basis. Having them manage their organizational permissions and run their own reports reduces the amount of emails, tickets, and other administrative tasks that might otherwise fall on the plate of your centralized IT organization. The closer you are to the end user, the more quickly you are able to assess the priority of the request -- and take action.
ControlPoint allows organizations to be very specific about which features they allow each role to manage. You have the ability to customize all of the ControlPoint menus, stripping out the functionality that you don't want your site collection or site owners performing, while at the same time empowering your teams to self-manage. Within any collaboration environment, when you push management responsibility down toward the end users, it has an almost immediate effect on end user adoption and satisfaction -- because teams can react quickly to their needs.
Of course, with distributed management you never lose control from a centralized IT standpoint with ControlPoint, because you can easily see who has each permission level, what those roles can perform, and can run regular audits on how these permissions are being used. Some of the controls that can be configured are shown below:
There are many reasons why ControlPoint for SharePoint Administration continues to be the top-selling governance and admin tool for SharePoint -- but our powerful and flexible distributed management capability is a big reason why!
ControlPoint is available for SharePoint 2007, 2010, 2013, as well as Office365, so if you've never seen a live demo or would like a free trial, come see what you're missing! Sign up for a demo today. And if you're already a ControlPoint customer but are not yet taking advantage of these distributed management capabilities, we recommend that you sign up for the next free Axceler Academy session to learn how to get the most out of the platform. You can sign up through the Axceler Customer Portal.
Everyone has heard the expression time equals money. This concept resonates with all businesses, especially those identifying effective ways to increase productivity. During my three years of working with Axceler's customers, I've heard them emphasize the "time is money" adage hundreds of times, but for our SharePoint Admins the equation looks a little different…
In the business world:
Time = Money
In the SharePoint business world:
Time = Sanity
This observation was reinforced about six months ago when one of our clients in Charlotte, North Carolina gave me a call. On the line was Brian Gough, SharePoint Administrator from Polypore International. Brian is a well-known customer at Axceler due to his work with our team members around his migration strategy, working closely with our very own Matt Bradfield.
Anyone who has worked with Matt can attest to his ninja-like SharePoint migration skills.
Brian called with a general question around his ControlPoint FileLoader deployment, but the discussion rolled into a larger conversation about his experience and what he walked into during his first days at Polypore. Brian was a one man shop with 7,000 sites in 7 different languages “When I first started, I was poking around and discovered just how deep the infrastructure ran – some sites had 20 sub sites. I pulled in my management and said ‘We have to control this!!!’”
To solve these daunting tasks, Polypore partnered with Axceler on three major initiatives:
SharePoint Administration – “We had 300 versions of one document at one point, because I could see that I could manage it and improve overall performance for my end users.”
Version Migration – “As we migrated we were able to flatten out the content and users could always see where their content was residing.”
FileShare Migration – “This tool enabled me to work with our end users and leverage a common interface. We went from old to new hardware, while maintaining a secure and concise audit trail, ensuring minimal to no loss of data (and speedy results for my end users).”
When I asked Brian how he would assess the return he’s seen since working with Axceler, he answered: “On an emotional level. From an Administration perspective, ControlPoint can give me reports on what a person’s permissions are in 30 seconds versus… I can’t even imagine how long it would take. Choosing to work with these solutions literally saved my sanity. And that’s priceless.”
Management worries about the budget, Admins worry about their sanity. For me, it’s rewarding to be a part of something that addresses both.
Click here to check out Brian’s full story on how he preserved his sanity with Axceler: http://info.axceler.com/Portals/61447/docs/controlpoint%20-%20polypore.pdf
Existing Axceler customers can view our full Case Study library along with detailed product guides, common ControlPoint use cases and complimentary Axceler Academy training videos all from within our Customer Portal. https://support.axceler.com/home
For details on Axceler’s full suite of ControlPoint Products please visit http://www.axceler.com/products/index
At Axceler, we're fortunate to have more than 3,000 clients spanning across the globe. Although they range in size from midsized organizations to enterprise level corporations they all seem to have one thing in common - most IT departments within these organizations are comprised of a small team, often 2-3 people at best. So how do these teams find time to efficiently manage SharePoint policies, across thousands of site collections, and still get home in time for dinner?
A few months ago I had the opportunity to meet with Kevin Dorn, SharePoint Administrator at Electrolux, after returning to Boston after a SharePoint conference. Kevin plays an integral role in managing the Electrolux SharePoint Center of Excellence and I was thrilled when we decided to meet and discuss his experience as a ControlPoint customer. One of the specific challenges we discussed during our meeting was maintaining and enforcing efficient governance policies across their corporate environment. With over 20,000 users at the time and 1,600+ sites, maintaining efficiency and responsiveness was nearly impossible.
Electrolux is a global leader in household and professional appliances, selling more than 40 million products to customers in more than 150 markets every year. Electrolux products include refrigerators, dishwashers, washing machines, vacuum cleaners, cookers, and air-conditioners sold under esteemed brands such as Electrolux, AEG, Eureka, and Frigidaire. The company prides itself on creating products that are thoughtfully designed, based on extensive consumer insight, to meet the real needs of consumers and professionals. To enable the collaboration that fuels product innovation and design, Electrolux uses SharePoint 2010.
Kevin and I discussed his experience since installing ControlPoint, specifically how the tool has impacted his daily responsibilities. “As part of the CoE for Electrolux, we are tasked with being the frontlines of SharePoint to the business. We need to be able to respond quickly and efficiently.” Kevin went on to say that the first thing that jumped out at him about ControlPoint was its ease of use. “Shortly after we installed, I was asked to take a site from UAT to Production. A business user asked me ‘how long is this going to take?’ and because of the Copy/Move feature I was able to respond: ‘less than an hour’ which is insane. Needless to say I was very happy with that.”
When you have less than a handful of people supporting tens of thousands of business users even the best-structured teams can find that difficult to manage. Couple that with aligning best practices globally and you’ve got a number of checks and balances to go through before you can mark that request off your to-do list. With ControlPoint’s Copy/Move functionality you can create sites in your test environment and roll into production without having to duplicate your efforts.
ControlPoint allows you to move and copy site collections, sites, lists or list items within farms or across farms while maintaining permissions, version history and metadata as the transition is made.
“ControlPoint makes the day to day administration of SharePoint and getting information quickly over to other departments 1000x times faster. One of our new contractors, who had never used the product before, was able to pick it up and start running reports on data and performing tasks for me in under a day. It’s that intuitive.”
For the full Case Study on Electrolux visit http://info.axceler.com/Portals/61447/docs/electrolux_case_study.pdf
Existing Axceler customers can view our full Case Study library along with detailed product guides, common ControlPoint use cases and complimentary training videos all from within our Customer Portal. https://support.axceler.com/home
Information workers are clamoring for social collaboration, and whether the demand itself for these platforms has caused it, or people are just responding to the marketing for these new tools -- the vendor marketing onslaught of all-things-social is unmistakable. Peeling back the marketing layer, however, there are a number of reasons why end users want these capabilities: better visibility across the organization, easier collaboration with external partners, simpler content creation and sharing, among others. Many organizations have struggled to get their end users to adopt their expensive, complex, structured collaboration platforms, and are now beginning to realize that the most robust and secure collaboration platform is a failure if they can't convince end users to engage.
One of the trends the Axceler team is watching closely is the movement of collaboration activities from the structured models of the leading Enterprise Content Management (ECM) platforms, especially SharePoint, toward the unstructured models of social collaboration, such as Yammer and similar tools. Through a series of surveys, events, and tweetjams, we are asking the community to chime in and share their thoughts on whether social collaboration displaces the need for ECM, or whether the two models coexist -- and what technical and cultural impacts these changes are having on organizations.
In our second official tweetjam, we gathered a panel of experts to answer a series of questions using Twitter as a platform, with many additional people joining into the conversation as it flowed online. If you've never participated in a tweet jam, they usually run about an hour during which our panel and the community use a common hash tag (#CollabTalk) to discuss our defined questions. During this event, we received almost 600 tweets from 13 panel members, as well as from active observers within the community. The graphic shows the reach, exposure (tweet impressions) and activity of this event:
You can find the complete Twitter stream history on www.twubs.com/CollabTalk, but the following is a summary of some of the more engaging responses (measured by re-tweets and feedback from participants), and hopefully gives you some perspective on each question to take back and apply to your own social collaboration initiatives:
Question 1: Is traditional Enterprise Content Management (ECM) dead?
- @nickinglis I can't point to anyone company who has 100% succeeded at #ECM
- @ltshaw711 Cloud services part of massive disruption in #ECM - Content everywhere and out of control!
- @HoardingInfo Yes. But it's hard to say it was ever alive. #Social now even changes the nature of content
- @rizinsights Content is never dead! Companies need their information, it's a question of placement and access.
- @nickinglis You used to have your #ECM silo, your #ERM silo, etc. Now you've got multiple systems with major overlap.
- @marwantarek ECM is a concept introduced for the enterprises and for business, however consumer technologies are affecting everything
- @piewords Traditional #ECM isn't "dead". Could argue it was never alive. It was a myth like Hercules
- @marwantarek So all the users are using FB, twitter, dropbox, skydrive and they are expecting same flexibility in their work
- @buckleyplanet I think ECM priorities have been drowned out by talk of social, but needs have not gone away
- @cliffpollan How many of your users are raving fans of current #ECM ?
- @ltshaw711 #ECM must evolve or be irrelevant in a much more fragmented world
Question 2: What have been the impacts, if any, of social collaboration on your company or clients?
- @marwantarek Social is impacting the expectations of the end users
- @HoardingInfo If social works, the volume and content of "documents" completly changes, all conversation in social
- @buckleyplanet Isn't it just that the entire definition of ECM is shifting? I see social as just another facet
- @cliffpollan Clients growing revenues - Sharing content, making it relevant, creating dialog, selling more.
- @rizinsights Social is driving information expectations and immediate responses #IwantitNOW
- @buckleyplanet There's been more focus on what people are actually doing to collaborate, more focus on culture of collab
- @marwantarek Yes the expectations are very high and they want something quick and easy to do the job
- @HoardingInfo If social is successful most knowlege workers can forget about #ECM to do their job
- @Emijoa Where do I begin? Faster onboarding, enhanced information and expertise finding, ideation, exception handling...
Question 3: Are you moving from a structured ECM model to amore unstructured, social collaboration model?
- @piewords Social collab has increased adoption. More content is shifting from email/drives & into those systems
- @krcraft Not if I can help it. Integrate, people. RT @arisalexllc: social is almost becoming its own vast, strangly silo'ed beast.
- @nickinglis The social switch is either on or off. There is seemingly no nuanced middle ground yet.
- @SharePointWendy We're already pretty unstructured, so moving to social would be no different
- @rizinsights Without a strategy, it's all just informaiton - ECM gives you a partial chance to collect info once, social doesn't
- @marwantarek I don't see structured ECM collaboration. it is all unstructured over emails
- @piewords Don't see a lot of big moves from 1 model to another. People w/ poor systems are discovering how easy Social tools can be
- @nickinglis We spent the 90s building content silos, then we spent the 2000s integrating, now we're building social silos.
- @ltshaw711 As social evolves, it creates yet more info silos, to possibly surpass #ECM if not careful
- @marwantarek Most of the organisations approaching social because of the pressure for the personal experience in FB & twitter
- @rizinsights Users may fumble in the dark without some guidelines; that leads to mistakes and issues at a macro level
- @krcraft The customer has already disrupted it. Period. We're in yet another era of integrating it - but with less structure
Question 4: Is social collaboration impacting your company culture? If so, how?
- @marwantarek Social needs a corporate culture accepting it, giving feedback on FB to ur friends is different from ur boss
- @nickinglis How did we end up with Yammer, Box and Dropbox everywhere? You think CTOs asked for it?
- @cliffpollan Everyday. Sharing more content, spurring more ideas. Building deeper relationships with clients.
- @buckleyplanet I find myself crafting an email, and then I stop and think "Hey, this should be in Yammer" and redirect my effort
- @Emijoa Flatter, more collaborative, greater sense of community: employees & managers share the rewards & challenges of work
- @piewords As a whole, Social won't change culture, just gives another place to live. Anti-social orgs won't change because of a tool
- @nickinglis Orgs are either driving the culture of collaboration or being driven by their users
- @gdc75 Definitely. Social has become the expectation. Those not on board are encouraged to join the revolution to survive!
- @danieloleary Social is also REALLY political, hard to drive organizational change
- @krcraft Trite, cliche, and true: Better be solid on collaborating internally before culture adopts free-for-all externally.
- @buckleyplanet And I still insist that no single model will work for everyone. Some orgs need, and thrive under, structured collab
Question 5: What is the key to end user engagement in the enterprise?
- @nickinglis Hiring practices. Lol
- @marwantarek Providing a methodology and tool to get my job done
- @HoardingInfo Just like #SharePoint adoption, you have to motivate them emotionally. Cannot be forced
- @piewords Easy, simple, embedded part of the everyday job, positive reinforcement. Do that, users will engage
- @Emijoa The key to end user engagement is providing a clear & compelling purpose from the beginning
- @ltshaw711 Key is consumer-like user experience, Brain-dead easy
- @marwantarek The users should see the value and how it is helping them get the job done without hassle
- @ron_miller If you don't get that cross-pollination across departments and up and down hierarchies, you are missing a main benefit.
Question 6: What three things are critical to making ECM and social collaboration work together?
- @buckleyplanet An understanding of their features, an understanding of your requirements, an understanding of your culture
- @marwantarek You need to provide proper context
- @leggettrobbie #governance is the main thing
- @caramarzilli Governance over social content long-term. Retention. discovery. Disposal! #wikileaks
- @cliffpollan Simplicity. Content & Dialog on equal footing. Visual.
- @ltshaw711 Beyond integration, solid ROI metrics and exec champions
- @ITredux The solution is to have a flatter org structure to support it, not a traditional hierarchical one
- @krcraft Ahh. There it is. Balance ? What's better to die? A social initiative or organizational security?
Question 7: What does the future of enterprise collaboration look like?
- @cliffpollan Pinterest meets Dropbox meets Yammer/Chatter/Hipchat with enterprise mgmt.
- @marwantarek Social can be attached to all enterprise platforms
- @nickinglis It looks like Facebook for the Enteprise #facepalm
- @rizinsights It looks messy - until people can unify around a method and platform, it will continue to be a dogs breakfast
- @arisalexllc I think the magic is where #CRM + #ECM can work together
- @marwantarek Bring enterprise platforms as social feed to the users' devices
- @buckleyplanet I think industry will need to figure out how ECM and social work seamlessly together, not diametrically opposed
I'd like to once again thank everyone who participated in this event, and hopefully all involved were able to get some benefit from the discussion. We're already planning our next tweetjam, so be sure to follow @Axceler on Twitter or subscribe to our blog to stay connected.