Too social?

The main part of the mechanismBrandon Hall Group Analyst David Wentworth just posted an interesting piece on the growing problems with enterprise social network initiatives.

You can read what David is thinking here.

We have always believed in social learning rather than in the idea that HR or learning and development departments would end up “owning” enterprise social networks.

To that end we make a point of including core talent-related social affordances in our out-of-the-box offerings (learning and performance interest groups, forums, news, email, chat, file sharing, etc.) and supplying robust API libraries, including widgets, Google gadgets, macros and plugins for working nicely with clients’ enterprise social network choices, whatever they turn out to be.

We think of it as the good neighbor policy.

A light has gone out

Dr_James_MartinJames Martin died recently. He was 80 years old. He died swimming off his house in Bermuda — there are, I’m sure, worse ways to go.

Dr. Martin was a formative thinker on technology and software development. Many of the ideas we consider foundational today — rapid iterative development, reusable component libraries, fourth-generation software languages — were all ideas he either created or greatly advanced. In his 1978 book The Wired Society Dr. Martin predicted how revolutionary what we now call the Internet would become. He was nominated for a Pulitzer for that book, which was just one of more than a hundred books he wrote.

There would be no agile-development-based, SaaS global talent management industry today without Dr. Martin’s many contributions to computer science. He invented new ways of working for programmers, analysts and engineers. He also made major contributions in other fields. He even, over dinner one night at his house on Agar’s Island in Bermuda, dreamed up the idea for what eventually became known as Bowie Bonds, the bundling of intellectual property like song rights into pre-packaged and market-priced revenue streams (and yes, David Bowie and his wife Iman were guests at the dinner).

When Ray Ruff, Michelle Sparks, Emily Chan and I started NetDimensions in 1999, a lot of people told us we were crazy. They said a Hong Kong-based, globally-focused, enterprise technology company that was not even VC-backed (we were effectively employee owned) had no realistic chance of survival.

One of our few industry friends in the early days was Headstrong, a consulting company James Martin founded and chaired. The Headstrong folks did take us seriously. They liked our approach and were willing to partner with us when we most needed the support of a serious industry player. So I am grateful to Dr. Martin and to all of the Headstrong executives who were willing to listen to a new company with some new ideas, including Steve Kucia, Paul Kidman, Liviano Lacchia and Peter Deacon in Asia, Rinze Koornstra and Cor Broekhuizen in the Netherlands and all of their wonderful colleagues in Chicago.

That was almost 15 years ago and we did survive. Now we’re listed on the London Stock Exchange AIM and traded in the U.S. on the OTCQX. We have offices in seven countries and hundreds of clients productively using our solutions in more than 50 countries around the world. Our software touches millions of lives today.

So we are grateful and I’d like to say thank you to the folks at Headstrong who supported us early on.

On behalf of NetDimensions we wish you well and we remember Dr. Martin with the deepest respect.

Forecasting the costs

One of my colleagues just sent me a PDF on likely costs to the U.S. cloud services industry from European nervousness about doing business with companies primarily subject to U.S. law. The loss estimates are big — from $22 to $35 billion over the next three years. All because of a handful of poor policy decisions.

The white paper is by the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (Republican Utah Senator Orrin Hatch is an honorary board member). You can find the study here.

Obviously, this paper begs the question — Will at least some European companies start looking to cancel deals with American talent management, HR, CRM and ERP cloud providers? If so, the losses might be substantially higher.

Might there be a bit of a move back toward on-premise license or company-specific private cloud sales? See here for a much higher loss estimate that factors in some of the likely American company buying behavior changes.

Might some U.S. provider companies split themselves into two or more stand-alone entities in order to avoid the jurisdiction issues currently coming to the fore?

We’ve written on this topic before (here and here) and we don’t claim to have a crystal ball. However, it does seem that the issues aren’t likely to go away, at least not quietly.