12Sprints. It embraces consumer services and activity streams correlating to the context of the business use, in particular collaboration among teams and groups.Recently, SAP showed us its new, cloud-based enterprise collaboration service called
Since that demo a few weeks ago, our views about the SAP service have changed a bit. In particular now that Google Buzz is part of the picture and conversations we have had recently with companies like Jive Software.
It's evident that the landscape is changing. 12Sprints, Jive Software and a host of other enterprise services have solidified the belief that the enterprise expects applications to be social. Enterprise vendors are hearing that pretty clearly from their customers.
We stopped by the Jive Software office in Portland this week to talk with CEO Dave Hersh and Co-Founder and CTO Matt Tucker about the company and the technology direction in the market.
Hersh said Buzz is interesting as it reinforces to customers that activity streams are effective ways to get the right information to the right people. Now, enterprise customers want all of their applications to be social.
"Every application they have in house is getting buzzy," Hersh said.
Bets are on for how to apply activity streams to the enterprise while at the same time developing open architectures so they may continually adapt to market changes.
For instance, Jive sees its "Social Business Software," platform as reaching across the enterprise. It has invested heavily in the social, customer facing environments. The company recently acquired FiltrBox to track and analyze information from the social stream. The next step is to create activity streams for all applications, deeper in the enterprise. Integrate, for instance, an activity stream into an ERP or CRM environment.
Hersh said Jive now has 200 employees. He expects employee head count to be 300 by the end of the year. Resources will go to R&SD with a concentration in developing activity stream technology and mobile services.
In the meantime, the focus across the market is how to bring universality to consumer and enterprise applications. These are services built upon cloud-based infrastructures that use APIs to integrate consumer-based applications that are as popular for the office as the home.
SAP's 12Sprints is illustrative of this trend. In December, we wrote about the service, describing it as a competitor to Google Wave. Now it seems more like Google Buzz. It has the elements of a fully collaborative environment where people add to a stream of information, editing simultaneously in real time.
It's a competitor to any number of enterprise collaboration services, including Saleforce Chatter, PBWorks, MindTouch and IBM's Project Vulcan. Other services that come to mind include Tibco's Tibbr, as Dion Hinchliffe points out in his post recently about the 12Sprints service.
The service is designed to integrate with consumer-based API's, initially integrating with Evernote and Scribd. That's a smart approach. Innovation in the market is coming from services that are fit for the consumer or the professional. For example, doctors use Evernote to keep notes and for their own personal use.
The SAP team looks like they have no hesitation in developing 12Sprints as a service that is much like a consumer offering.
It uses activity streams that allow people to follow individuals, groups, updates or search terms.
But it is not a rival, as of yet, to Microsoft Sharepoint. 12Sprints takes a more focused approach than Sharepoint. Hinchcliffe points out that this may be its best attribute. It's not like the rest of the pack in that it tries to do everything:
"It's important to note that 12Sprints doesn't try to be the best at everything, a fault that's endemic to large enterprise application suites and which is wisely avoided here. It does however integrate with best-of-breed services where it makes sense, whether they're from SAP or not. This includes WebEx, Evernote, and Scribd, with the first two custom-integrated and the latter as part of their extensions program. With extensions any developer can onboard their functionality to 12Sprints, which offers users an experience not dissimilar to an app store and makes it possible for anyone to enhance the platform.
Who will find 12Sprints compelling? Those who have traditional, non-collaborative desktop and communication tools. E-mail and instant messaging is an obvious competitor for many of the tasks that 12Sprints targets, while Microsoft Project, Web conferencing, and knowledge/document management tools are as well in terms of more directed and less open-ended apps."
SAP, Jive and even Google have a shared interest in developing applications built upon open architectures. The consumer facing aspects of these applications will continue to unfold, especially as cloud computing grows in acceptance.
And with this all, activity streams will be the standard for how the social stream flows.