Wednesday 30 April 2008

Reflecting on the Enterprise RSS Day of Action

Just less than a week ago a few people with an eye on the big picture of Enterprise Web 2.0 joined me for a global Enterprise RSS Day of Action. I've already thanked a whole bunch of people on Twitter and tried to link to every post I could find that talked about Enterprise RSS (If I missed you, add a link to your post as a comment below). But just to be sure I wanted to say to everyone who contributed to the wiki, shared their experiences with Enterprise RSS directly with me or joined us online for the conversation about Enterprise RSS on the day... a big, big thank you!

Now, what did I learn from the day?

  • People are interested in using "feeds" inside organisations, although most of the people I spoke with are only at the stage of RSS-ifying existing content and providing users with desktop RSS reader. Some are constrained by the dependency on other software deployments - either at the server (waiting for a version of their CMS or portal that supports RSS) or the desktop (waiting for an upgrade to an email client with RSS support built in). Unfortunately RSS isn't seen yet as a key part of the messaging infrastructure.
  • Enterprise RSS is one of two things to most people - its either part of the Enterprise 2.0 infrastructure, what you might call "social middleware" (from Mike Gotta), or a solution to a particular business problem. I think the challenge for the business issue perspective is that it may not require Enterprise RSS infrastructure to solve it (which is typical of the first step being taken by many organisations, as described above), but without an Enterprise RSS infrastructure you don't offer the best possible user experience. In the longer term it also means that there is no platform for adding value or for meeting emerging needs as the use of RSS grows. This just means we have to be smart - to champion Enterprise RSS you need to understand the big picture, but to sell it to individuals inside an organisations (particularly the decision makers) you need to make sure you know why it might be important to them.
  • If you take the time to explain what RSS and Enterprise RSS is all about, people want it. Unfortunately even people who live and breath information technology all day long aren't always across every information technology out there. During my own internal brown bag session I could see that as people understood more, they could see the opportunities for using Enterprise RSS as part of the mix with other enterprise information management solutions. In some respects, Enterprise RSS is a missing link.
  • Also, in most cases you can't talk about Enterprise RSS without talking about email!

Overall, I don't think that Enterprise RSS Day of Action changed the world, but this was never the intention - I'm just pleased that we're having this conversation. However, I'm also feeling a bigger disconnect between what excites the external world of Web 2.0 and the reality inside the firewall - more on that in another post, however this post from Jeremy Thomas is one of a few out there that captures something of what I'm talking about:

"When I started I came in guns ablazing with a consultant’s mindset. “What, no data warehouse, no sweat. We’ll implement a master data management strategy and breathe life into dying data. And let me tell you about this nifty little thing called Enterprise 2.0. It’s going to revolutionize the world, man. Ever heard of SLATES?”. Sarcasm aside, people had actually heard about Enterprise 2.0 and were actually keen on the idea. But seeing things from the other side I’m starting to think Enterprise 2.0 will be overwhelming for many."

In these still early days, being an Enterprise RSS champion requires a delicate balance between being visionary and pragmatic.

BTW The Enterprise RSS Day of Action was overshadowed by other Web 2.0 related events going on around the world, but it didn't go unnoticed that Microsoft's big new Web 2.0 move, Live Mesh, is underpinned by RSS. Quite funny really to see this blog comment about Mesh:

"One of my pain point has been the lack of syncronisation of RSS feeds that I’ve read between my PC, laptop and work PC. I’m hoping Live Mesh may be the solution for this."

Hmm. And so the story of Enterprise RSS continues...

What did you do about the Enterprise RSS Day of Action or think about Enterprise RSS more generally? Add your comments and experiences below.

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