Tuesday, 13 November 2007

Why aren't we getting enterprise RSS yet?

I thought it was interesting that two PR people contacted me in response to my post about enterprise RSS. First, Janet Johnson, representing Attensa, said:

"why do you suppose the adoption of enterprise RSS (and associated benefits available today) is so slow?... I shake my head on the lack of institutionalized adoption all the time.  Help me understand - thank you."

Jennifer Gazin from LaunchSquad, representing Newsgator, also emailed me talking about NewsGator's participation in OpenSocial - she also pointed me in the direction of Newsgator's blog on Enterprise RSS where this post caught my attention about Gartner's magic quadrant and they commented:

"The Gartner view of team collaboration and social software, and this is just an observation and not a judgement, is still rooted in the blogs and wikis mindset, which is not what we do so according to how Gartner is segmenting the market there really wasn't much upside for us.

We believe the market is much broader than Gartner is allowing, encompassing content relevancy, discovery, and surfacing (what you need, when you need it, and in an app that can use it), user profile data, user initiated action, such as sharing and tagging, coupled with user generated content."

I think this comment points at a symptom of why the adoption of enterprise RSS is so slow - and that is RSS is still very much misunderstood by the corporate computing world, Gartner included. I've actually had comments from other IT professionals that RSS is "flaky" in comparison to other types of Web-delivered content and email, which is disappointing.

The other big issue is that for enterprise RSS to work you need both RSS content and RSS readers in place. From a technology point of view neither issue is difficult to overcome but we run into the old chicken and egg problem of supply and demand for RSS - It departments won't invest in RSS if there is nothing to consume, and if there is no way of consuming then why create RSS content?

The other issue is that if you can overcome this first problem, then it would appear you don't need a enterprise RSS system in place, however the problem I have is that I (and I think most knowledge workers) want an integrated RSS experience.

Hopefully its just a question of time and getting people to evangelise RSS? What do you think?

8 comments:

  1. I agree.

    The chicken and the egg situation is a big problem.

    Another aspect I can see is that this is a technology being given attention through the introduction of social software within the enterprise. Therefore its success largely depends on the adoption of these tools, rather than a strategic understanding of the need and its potential in its own right. There is far more that can be done with RSS than "just blog feeds".

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  2. It is absolutely a chicken and egg approach. If you do not have RSS content, you do not need a reader.

    One goal is too move a lot of the internal spam into RSS content, removing it from the overwhelmed email system and giving a better way to be retrieved in a search by using blogs and wikis.

    We are planning to implement SharePoint 2007 with its RSS content and shortly thereafter deploy an enterprise RSS system.

    Part of the problem is that IT does not understand Enterprise 2.0.

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  3. I agree with Simon - and counsel people all the time (my clients are generally marketers) to use RSS for things like:

    1) Getting competitive news and information - when you set up persistent searches for your competitors you'll always know exactly when they've made announcements. Who doesn't want to be more competitively aware?

    2) Understanding the "swirl and twirl" of conversations about your brand. If you're not monitoring for it, you're just plain doing a disservice to your company.

    3) In large, geographically dispersed organizations; team members can subscribe to updates, changes, comments and new files from their functional or project intranet areas - it's all about getting the right information to the right people at the right time.

    Without having to work so hard at it. And enterprise RSS ecosystems like that from Attensa are secure, accessible and easy to manage. (For IT as well as users.)

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  4. My view here is that the business users have RSS lower down their list of demands on us IT folks. I see it rising up the list helped by the increasing abundance of RSS readers within common email clients and RSS publication in applications. Interestingly my wife's marketers magazine has a huge section on RSS and other web 2.0 technologies this month!

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  5. RSS is hard to understand unless you've used it. RSS works well for blogs but I'm not too sure what else. Blogs aren't used much in most organisations. In large part this is because email is the standard for most electronic communication (badly flawed though it is), and old habits die hard.

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  6. Oh please folks. There is no shortage of valuable material transmitted via RSS: http://www.news.harvard.edu/rss/rss.html

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  7. 1) email entrenchment. Everyone hates it but also continues to use and want as if center of their desktop. E.G. consuming wiki update alerts as email, getting blogs via email subscriptions, etc.

    2) User fear of another desktop application to manage / pay attention to (assuming feedreader not fully integrated experience)

    3) Challenges some feedreaders have with consuming from https sites, although I'm not certain how true this is presently.

    4) Perceived more work for IT as another infrastructure component. Will we standardize on a particular feedreader, etc.? Some upfront investment with uncertain (to some people) benefit

    P.S. to Doug: I love the idea of offloading internal spam to RSS - just make it mandatory versus an option...and will the organization have the guts to do that?

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  8. Good points, Ray. I think you've got some of the true reasons. Let's put on our thinking caps and start with your list!

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