Wednesday 2 February 2011

Tibbr - the revolution starts right here

Today I attended the launch of Tibco's tibbr in London. A perfectly short and great event of a few hours with excellent food, drinks, very interesting speakers and some great panel remarks - not in that order

Ram Menon, Executive Vice President of Worldwide Marketing presented a very clear overview emphasizing the punch-line: when information is available, it comes to you

There were several speakers, among which Sriram Chakravarthy, Head of Cloud Services and Strategy (Tibco) and Jon Scarpelli, VP of Technology for CIBER. The panel existed of Dennis Howlett, Enterprise Buyer Advocate, Jem Eskenazi, Chief Information Officer of Groupama Insurances, and Ray Wang, Industry Analyst, and was moderated by Euan Semple, Consultant and Writer on The Social Web for Business

Those are the facts. Here are my findings:

Next to allowing you to follow company people, tibbr allows for following subjects: topics you can subscribe to so you make a first shift in filtering information and upping your signal-to-noise ratio. Before you compare those to communities or networks: these subjects can have child subjects, which can have child subjects themselves

So far, so good. Micro-blogging much? A bit better perhaps, but yes I get what you're thinking of right now. However, tibbr is the biggest disruption of this century - honestly

Enter events: event streams even. From a company that knows Enterprise inside-out & outside-in due to 15 years of experience in the field of Integration, true Event Driven Architecture is portrayed: anything, or anyone, can be, or trigger, an event - and they'll come in streams towards you

Subjects can be an event stream, just like their children ('s children), meaning you can follow them. Best of all, you can get a direct notification via various media (currently supported in the demo: email and SMS) if one of your favourite topics gets touched.
The first brilliant feature here is that these events can be scheduled, the second is that it is you who can configure how each individual stream is scheduled: do you want that feed real-time, hourly, daily, weekly? This is a double benefit over other micro-blogging tools out there: it is Push in stead of Pull in a field where things should get pushed, at various frequencies that you determine. Why log into or check your internal social network for updates - you don't do that for e-mail either, do you?

Before you say "Yammer a.o. can do that, just with fewer options!", please bear with me

Then, the revolution: next to people and topic chat, tibbr enables you to follow applications.
Because Tibco is Tibco, those can be any application, and internal as well as external of course.
Tibco calls these Work streams (a few preset business applications like SAP where demo'ed), Life streams (Facebook, Twitter, Flickr and other social networks were there), and Utilities (external global service applications like UPS, FedEx, and others were shown).

Why follow applications? You won't follow the applications themselves, but rather the input to and output of their various processes. You don't care for the engine, you want to get its horsepower, and be notified when it's fed petrol (or not). Please read my Stop breaking down silos, let's enginize the pistons if you have any questions about that.
Again, these are event streams: you subscribe to specific application (trigger) events so you can take action when these are fulfilled. A new purchase order from client A, a status update from friend or brand B, or the alert that shipment C has left the depot for its final leg towards delivery? You can subscribe to these all, schedule each of them accordingly ranging from real-time to weekly, lie back in your hammock in stead of chasing them every hour of the day and checking tons of applications and places for them - tibbr brings information to you at your leisure, when you want it

Digest that please. There must have been times you were awaiting something very important like expenses being approved or paid, a major announcement from a social friend or brand, a flight confirmed or delayed, or anything else. Those are the "burning issues" you'd want to get notified of immediately - no problem, tibbr can do.
You might also want to simply aggregate information over a longer period of time, e.g. people or companies filing reports at the end of month or year.
In between those options: how about people filling in their time-sheet, or better yet, customers paying their bills?

All these streams end up in one single place, where you can review, reschedule or even unsubscribe to every single one of them: a truly holistic view, and, am I getting boring already, I wouldn't have expected anything less from a company that has dealt with enterprise in its purest size, diversity and complexity, and managed to make all that manageable in their regular product.
Centralising information, making it (appear) uniform, manageable, traceable, so it doesn't need to be monitored and can be self-sustainable: leave it up to the real experts in Integration - been there, done that, love to do it again. Take extreme diversity and make it appear homogeneous to the user - that is just like the average US citizen visiting France on holiday and experiencing himself to be fluently conversing French - at a price of $ 12 a month

Again, knowing Tibco, this all is platform and device-agnostic, meaning it doesn't matter what you use, where you use, and when you use.
The extra beauty on top of that is that tibbr allows you to regain control over ye olde 9-5: you can hold notification / event stream delivery from any given point in time (let's say 8 PM) and get it all delivered in batch the next morning

Not enough yet? Tibbr comes to you on-premise just as well as off-premise - another fantastically brilliant move by Tibco, showing they understand IP objections when they're clearly voiced - none of this all will leave the building unless you choose to.
Speaking of which, all of this can be managed and adjusted: what is private or public, and to whom: one-size-fits-all doesn't exist of course (wasn't that my middle name?)

I am absolutely impressed with tibbr. I could give you a few reasons why I, who has 15 years experience in the field of Integration, consider tibbr an extremely brilliant move by Tibco, who also has 15 years of experience in the field of integration - but that probably wouldn't be that interesting for you as it would cause me to tell a long story.
What is interesting, is the fact that "Tibco has crossed the line with tibbr": from being an expert in connecting humans via linking machines to machines, it now directly links humans to machines. Social is all about linking people to people, and tibbr does that too and even better than some existing tools, but the real power of tibbr is about supplying information as fast as possible, across time-zones and regions, by simply directly connecting machines to humans - thus lifting work from the shoulders of people in between

My take-away? Tibbr will blow your mind when you grasp its impact and possibilities. Is that about Enterprise 2.0 or Social Business? No and yes. Quoting Dennis Howlett on the panel today: "We've automated everything there is to automate, just about. Now let's wrap that up, put it in a box and move on with what's left"
This is partially about what can be boxed. There are still humans in between fully automated processes, just because they have (sole?) access to the applications providing them. Mostly what they do "perceiving our event stream" is monitor systems and relay "our" messages - usually by email. Not a very exciting or rewarding job, and one they can now be relieved of, so they have more time for more interesting and challenging work.
The other part is about the non-boxable piece: I want to stress the fact that in ICT we're all trying to work up our way through the OSI-layers here, and moving from simple, static and rigid infrastructure to complex, dynamic and flexible people-to-people business on top of everything else.
There is, in my opinion, an evolutionary law that we will continue to evolve, thus the change will go to the top, not the bottom.
The bottom, we can box and outsource, offshore or Cloud - the top, we can't, and never will nor want to be able to: it's where people are needed, and tibbr allows you to reuse your current employees, relieving them from some tedious tasks, and turning them from resources into assets

My give-away? Tibbr is just beginning. I apologise for the acronyms, will explain them later, but: tibbr implements EDA, will truly enable BPM, and is the stepping stone to CEP.
I'm a simple guy really: you can't automate anything unless it can be done by humans. Tibbr will get every one involved, enterprise-wide, and pull and stretch all the business processes. Very soon people will say "Hey why isn't there an event stream for xyz?!", or "Why does this French event always trail by two weeks compared to the German one?" or "Why do I get the same information in three different forms depending on sender?!"

In human terms? This is not a sexy start-up attempting to do something new, this is an old-fashioned enterprise doing something very, very disruptive. At what level? A level that will go beyond the grasp of most people who live and breathe in Social and Enterprise 2.0

Will it appeal to enterprises? Beyond any doubt it will, but that's not the question. The real question is: how high will you fly once your company gets the hang of this?

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