Natives and Immigrants

I picked up these two terms from this post at http://ecmarchitect.com/archives/2007/09/20/767

Digital Natives – the generation of workers who are entering the workplace now
Digital Immigrants – the generation of workers who have adapt to the changing technology

I would consider myself somewhere between the two but with my techie focus, compared to say a lawyer, I’d like to think my interest moves me towards a native. I joined Facebook and get more from the way it has been built and designed than the fact I can keep in touch with people, although I think that will move on slowly.

The two camps above present a real problem for us in the industry. Take a project I am working on now where we are implementing a Portal into organisations which are traditionally very immature in terms of technology. The vast majority of users we have will have had no exposure at all to the likes of Facebook and other mash-ups. In fact some will have had little exposure to the internet.

The strategy we drew up some time ago on the programme was that the Portal platform would become the workplace for these people, the number of users could rise as high as 400,000 and work in many, many different organisations. We would build multiple applications which the users would then access based on role and rights. The applications they access would then be available for them to customise to their own liking, they may not need the full application to do their regular day to day work but could select one or two Portlets for their dashboard.

At the moment the customisation options are not being pushed, we’re keeping them locked away for a rainy day, and for when the user population is more mature in terms of it’s approach to Portals. However it has been very important for us to ensure the design of the Portlets is granular enough to allow for this customisation to work in the future.

Forrester Report

There have been a few interesting posts on the Forrester Wave recently, I’ve been reading them but have not provided any comment thus far. Over at ecmarchitect.com there was a response to question the gradings and how they were applied for Alfresco, http://ecmarchitect.com/archives/2007/11/13/782. The general theme in the post is that the ratings are stacked in the favour of the larger ECM vendors and may not represent what a customer really requires. On this I could not agree more, many a time I have pitched up at a customer who are involved in a product selection process and have been presented with a ‘short list’ which has been drawn from either a Gartner of Forrester report:

Customer : IBM are the leading ECM vendor, we need to buy and use that to solve our problems.
AN Other : And what exactly are you looking to solve…what are the problems you are experiencing?
Customer : We have content distrubuted everywhere and don’t know what it is or where it is and need to use it for managing the information we publish via our external sites.

Already we’re seeing a focus emerging to the selection and it is extremely important that this focus is attained. Each vendor has their own specific strengths and weaknesses and customers should look at the weightings carefully when selecting their product. This is nothing groundbreaking, Laurence mentioned it when he gave a more detailed view of the Forrester ratings.

Back to the post on ecmarchitect, the main argument with the Forrester report appeared to be the lack of respect given to the smaller pure players in the evaluation and the weighting towards the big players. I sympathise with some of the points made in the need for agility and speed of implementation but it does come across as a little one sided that all of the big players have large apps which require tremendous amounts of care and attention to get them up and running. This is not the case, a number of the larger vendors have suites of products which enable the customer to cherry pick the elements which best meet their needs. One would expect that these components are then easier to integrate than a variety of products, of course this is not usually the case as it is common for the larger vendors to acquire products and then only to integrate at a relative snail’s pace; consider the disparate nature of the OpenText product set or the lack of integration between eRoom and core Documentum from EMC.

Big does not always mean unwieldy, but the customer should always do more than pay lip service to these types of reports, understand the scoring and its applicability to their requirements!