Thursday, 18 December 2008

Where next for Enterprise RSS in 2009

Looking back on his own predictions about the RSS space, G. Oliver Young notes:

"KnowNow went out of business completely; NewsGator shifted focus and now leads with its Social Sites for SharePoint offering, while its Enterprise Server catches much less attention; and Attensa has been very quiet this year. In other words, all is not well in the enterprise RSS space...

...I’m concerned there is something more fundamental going wrong here. At the end of the day enterprise RSS is predicated on the notion that shoving all communications through email is too inefficient and must be augmented with other communications channels. Is it possible that people simply don’t feel that pain strongly enough to invest the time and effort to learn to use RSS?* And that every wiki feed will eventually dump right into email because that is what people really want?"

I'm actually encouraged by what I've seen in the last 6 months around Enterprise RSS adoption (in terms of growing awareness and interest at least), but I won't argue that it isn't a slow up hill battle. However, while I think Young is right about the user perception of RSS (a point I've discussed with many people) I think the place where leadership is really needed is within enterprise IT departments.

This need for leadership is reflected in Young's other comments that,

"[Businesses] know they have a problem, but instead of investing in RSS many bought other products like wikis, blogs, and social networking tools.'

For me the absence of Enterprise RSS (and perhaps along with other key infrastructure, like Enterprise Search and social tagging tools) in environments where we find wikis, blogs and social networking tools is a sign of tactical or immature implementations of enterprise social computing. We are just at the beginning of this journey.

Of course this isn't a sure sign that existing Enterprise RSS solutions will continue in their current forms. But what I am sure about is that if we really want to bring Web 2.0 inside the firewall, then we need Enterprise RSS functionality in that mix. And that's because the 9X email problem isn't just a barrier for Enterprise RSS adoption, but a barrier for Enterprise 2.0 itself.

In this respect, I can actually see many opportunities for integrating Enterprise RSS features into Enterprise Search solutions or into existing portal platforms (actually, Confluence is a great example of a feed friendly wiki platform - both to create and consume). And why doesn't Microsoft Exchange play a greater role in supporting sophisticated Enterprise RSS capabilities? I suppose in a way this is exactly what Newsgator are doing for the Microsoft suite.

So, Enterprise RSS is here to stay.

BTW Don't forget to check out my Enterprise RSS article, where I introduce the concept of the Enterprise RSS Value Chain to help you understand where Enterprise RSS can add value.

Actually, as a quick vote - have you or your organisation evaluated Enterprise RSS or thought about it seriously during the last year? Or is it something you plan to look at in 2009?


  1. I agree entirely with your point that RSS is an essential part of any Enterprise 2.0 programme. The problem with many of the Enterprise RSS tools is that they can become seriously expensive, especially if compared with (a) some of the pieces that people think add real value (such as some blog or wiki software) or (b) external RSS services like Bloglines or Google Reader, which are free. Against that background it is a real challenge to convince people that RSS is necessary to make a success of internal blogs and wikis.

  2. A valid point, Mark. And there isn't really an open source (or even a commercial open source) alternative to the commercial options.

  3. I think RSS is the key to enterprise 2.0. Understanding RSS means understanding the new web (inside or outside the company). We are looking for and evaluating enterprise RSS solutions. We're not happy with what we see. We're still looking, but also building our own (temporary?) solution. Blogged about the reasons here.

  4. Interesting comments - in the absence of RSS Readers inside my organisation I use Internet Google Reader for RSS - I really like the concept of RSS - but interestingly, many people in my organization look at me blankly when I recommend using RSS - so that to me is an indication that RSS is not many people's radar inside organizations

    really unfortunate - because it is such a time efficient tool once you have decided which sites you find valuable

  5. You already know we agree a lot on this, if enterprises were to get this right, a lot of their other efforts would become a lot more effective. Though they are in somewhat of a catch-22, as the tools are currently not particularly feature-complete for the enterprise IMHO.

    Interesting that you picked up on this back in December, and since, ReadWriteWeb came out with a post "R.I.P. Enterprise RSS": also referencing Oliver Young's post!


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