Thursday 10 April 2008

Why focus on Enterprise RSS?

I thought you might be wondering about the driver behind my interest in Enterprise RSS and the Enterprise RSS Day of Action?

Firstly, just in case you didn't know, I'm a consultant who is currently working for a large IT services company - Computer Sciences Corporation (CSC) - and I have a professional interest in this stuff. However, this is strictly a personal project  - as an information system user in my own right, I want Enterprise RSS too! So when the people I work with got sick of me evangelising about Enterprise RSS I decided to take the issue online. So here I am.

Secondly, frankly I'm tired of the narrow and tactical approach to Enterprise 2.0 I see being hyped - a single wiki used as a cheap Web content management system (WCMS) gets you to about Enterprise 1.1, and no more. Scott Niesen along with others like Carl Frappaolo and Dan Keldsen (in their Enterprise 2.0 report) are right to focus on Andrew McAfee's SLATES model, and Enterprise RSS is an important part of that ecosystem. Yes, its time anyone who is making a deliberate use of Enterprise Web 2.0 actually started thinking strategically... and Enterprise RSS is an important part of that strategic picture.

And BTW if you're talking to an Enterprise Web 2.0 "guru" and they aren't talking about Enterprise RSS, well I would be very worried (or be prepared to be given a short term tactical response - "hey, you just need a wiki").

Of course, that doesn't excuse us from thinking about the business value or how we package up Enterprise RSS for the people who are going to use it. I'm definitely not saying that. But we can't do that unless we have the strategic view ourselves.

BTW If you check out my slides on Intranet 2.0, you'll find slide 25 near the back with a pyramid broken into the following layers:

  1. Guidelines
  2. Applications and Services
  3. Infrastructure

RSS readers, forums, blogs and wikis are applications, but Enterprise RSS is part of the Intranet 2.0 infrastructure... and its only with the right infrastructure that users will be provided with the building blocks to meet emergent future needs.

Ok. Enterprise RSS rant over and out (for now).


  1. Hi James - thanks for the reference to our Market IQ on Enterprise 2.0, much appreciated!

    RSS is a curious beast - so simple to implement (I've hand-coded database feeds myself), and yet still so rare. The value of this level of plumbing is way under utilized, although the vast majority of people I interact with that are "enterprise users" seem to nearly universally convert their RSS feeds into e-mail (or something else more push-live).

    So where have we gone astray?

    BTW - just posted a presentation more specifically about Knowledge Management 2.0 and Enterprise 20 - the data shown is from the Market IQ, so not new, but the set-up is different.


  2. Wonderful post! I fully agree with you: RSS is infrastructure!
    So, if RSS is infrastructure, I'm curious about your thoughts on enterprise RSS servers and RSS enabling information in the organization? Should companies have an enterprise RSS server? Or are their other ways to have an RSS infrastructure? And do you find that all information should be RSS-ified?

  3. Anonymous1:55 am

    James, this is not really a rant - it is a much needed call for getting the whole picture.

    RSS in my mind too is the glue that binds the parts of the future enterprise 2.0 infrastructure together, i.e. it really is an essential element of the enterprise platforms (that we design and envision).

    Yes, it isn't glitzy and catchy, and like Dan says it, it is a curious beast, but standardized protocols never are, even when they've got much to offer.

    Yet and while this message of "hey, there are opportunities with this RSS beast" and promoting and educating about clever use in the enterprise may be what is really needed - it is sometimes also a "recipe for disaster" in "standard selling situations". Maybe the Enterprise RSS Day of Action can ease this situation ...

  4. Thanks for your comments everyone. Dan - I wonder if enterprise users are converting RSS feeds into email because they are looking for an integrated "information workplace" - email, for enterprise users, is still the more mature of the two technologies. Or in other words, email has the level fo infrastructure we are looking for with Enterprise RSS. I mean, imagine if we didn't have enterprise email systems like MS Exchange to power Outlook.

  5. James - e-mail is certainly much more understandable and "in your face" in the enterprise. The blessing and curse.

    I was talking to Scott Niesen from Attensa today about the subtle world of Enterprise RSS, and it's very puzzling. It's a powerful piece of infrastructure, the standards-based nature of RSS (and ATOM) makes it (as Martin commented) great glue to connect systems, and yet if I had a penny for all the times I'd ever heard someone bring up Enterprise RSS, I'd have maybe 13 cents. 10 of those cents coming from 5 years ago when I first started poking around in enterprise uses of blogs, wikis, RSS, etc..

    I am hearing buzz of people rediscovering portals however, or perhaps discovering portals for the first time, in which case they may be consuming RSS without knowing it, as RSS in 2008 is frequently feeding the portlets for news, status, etc. in enterprise portals.

    The simplicity of RSS seems to cause people to underrate it's value. Very puzzling indeed.


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