I have been deep in the investigation of streaming applications designed to be used in business for several months. Think of it as Twitter or Facebook for the enterprise (a list of the companies involved follows), also know as microblogging for the enterprise.
For months I’ve been heads down, evaluating products, getting demos, writing my observations, and basically heading toward publishing a report on the state of the market. The date of publication has slipped a bit, for two very different reasons. First, I have been dealing with a bit of a family crisis, as my very ill father has had to enter an assisted living facility, and is now receiving hospice care. But more pertinent to the study itself, the pace of the technical world has made the research and the report very difficult.
These difficulties also included the obvious fact that the staff of the various product companies are extremely busy. This has led to rescheduling of demos, slipped deadlines on demo materials, and in some cases companies opting out of the study simply because they have no time. (Note: some of the companies in the study are sponsoring my research, but some are not, so money is not a requirement, although it comes with extra benefits, including a chance to review their respective chapter of the report, and a briefing after the report is completed.)
Another factor making the research difficult is that new streaming application companies are popping up all the time. In just the past two months I came across Podio, Cohuman, and Flowr, and all have become involved in the study.
And a third factor is that the products keep changing. While I was writing up the section about Flowr, this week, I logged into my Flowr account to check a detail. I saw that some major user interface changes had taken place, and I sent an email to my contact there asking for updated screenshots for the chapter. I am still awaiting them, but I will likely get them in the next few days. However, by that time, something equally significant may have happened on Yammer, or BantamLive. I might have to turn around and ask those companies for updates. And so on.
It is these last two factors that are the most challenging, as an increasing tempo and rate of innovation in this hot corner of the social business marketplace makes pinning down the players in a short window of time very difficult.
I had a insight the other morning, in that semi-asleep moment just before fully waking up. I saw the report as a version, just like the products that I am reviewing.
So rather than trying to be completely comprehensive, and issuing the report once per year, I am going over to a more agile model.
The report will be versioned, and the first version — coming out the week after next — will be version 2010.1. I have decided to make the calendar year the prefix of the versioning scheme, for simplicity’s sake. I plan to release new versions every six to eight weeks (2010.2, 2011.1, etc.), adding new product reviews and updating others, as major updates in the streaming apps are announced or released.
Here’s the outline of the report, version 2010.1:
The Streams In Business Research Report 2010.1
Introduction — A summary of the subject, the approach taken, and the scenarios used to evaluate the products (see Microstreams In Business: Scenarios For Product Evaluation).
Product Evaluations: Positioning, Scenario-based Evaluation, and Conclusions for the following products
- Coffee Bean Technology
- IBM Connections
- Dimensions of Differentiation
- What’s Ahead
In upcoming versions, I hope to include other competitors such as Salesforce Chatter, Socialtext, Traction Software, Huddle, BlueKiwi, Brainpark, Jive Software, and others too many to mention. That is a function of their ability to work with me on the evaluation, though.
What Does This Mean To A Report Buyer?
Obviously, this rapid change in the market has repercussions for buyers of the report (and buyers of the products, as well). For example, Betty Ling might buy a copy of the report on 5 November, and by 15 December new product releases may come along to change her thinking about which product might be the best for her company.
Since we can’t put a brake on the market, We can offer the buyer the opportunity to stay up with it. So, I am going to modify my pricing model to allow a buyer three versions of the report. So Betty could download the 2010.2 version of the report in December, and also a copy of the 2011.4 report in June 2011, just to see what’s out there.
A buyer will received the current version at the time of purchase, and then can request up to two more copies via email, and those versions will be sent along. Additional versions will be available for an additional fee.
The report subscription — up to three copies within 12 calendar months from initial purchase — is $195, and this include access to all free and for fee webinars that I hold on the topic.
For information on the report and the webinars, sign up for the mailing list, here. We will be mailing out updates in the next week about the report and webinars.