Tag Archives: Wikis

The Benchmark for Corporate Wikis?

Sun Microsystems may set the benchmark for large corporations using blogging. Now Sun is trying to do the same with wikis.sun.com which makes it fast and simple for all employees to get up and running collaborating on a wiki. Excuse me, on Atlassian Confluence, I should say. Which is an honor given Sun’s wonderful ambition.

Linda Skrocki posted this Sun video today and aside from being long at six minutes [it would kill at three minutes!], it’s an awesome example of how one company is evolving communication.

I dig the 80’s music. The Aussies will think it’s contemporary. 🙂

LinkedIn: New School vs. Old School Networking

Talking about adoption issues with new social tools eventually touches on age differences. Are younger people more inclined to use Web 2.0 technology? Are managers less inclined? Whether you believe so or not, do we encourage this problem? It’s one thing when traditional industries struggle with this, and it’s another thing when technology or internet companies perpetuate this hurdle to 2.0 networking possibilities.

With business people now using Facebook for networking, I was struck by noticing on Susan Scrupski’s Facebook profile that she is a member of a network called “Dump LinkedIn and other networks in favour of Facebook”. Is LinkedIn old school networking? Some people must think so.

LinkedIn runs the risk of alienating an exploding market of 2.0 advocates if it doesn’t address this type of challenge. I am not surprised LinkedIn is allowing this to happen.

Sharing a panel with a LinkedIn exec, I asked him if LinkedIn had ever considered creating a collaboration space on a wiki platform such as what SAP does with its SAP Developer Network. Perhaps LinkedIn could offer a more exciting collaboration space to complement its network. LinkedIn’s question-answer feature is rather old school. Now I can be accused of promoting wikis, but his response said a lot about LinkedIn’s view of the 2.0 world. He said LinkedIn targets senior professionals and senior people are too busy to edit wiki pages and that senior people have little time to write, let alone handle email.

LinkedIn I will assume is commercially minded and has concrete business reasons for taking this tack. But why perpetuate this hurdle when you have such a huge valuable network? Whether it’s a wiki or not, I would like to see LinkedIn get more new school-minded and make the experience on their site a lot more interesting.

Wiki Comparison

wiki picTroy Angrignon of Business Objects compared Confluence, Jotspot, Socialtext, and Wetpaint back in July and this week updated his blog mentioning that we’re releasing a hosted version. He drew commentary from Zoli Erdos and others, and I chimed in as well.

Troy revealed that Business Objects selected Confluence and standardized on it as their enterprise wiki. The wiki can be quite complementary to enterprise software such as business intelligence and content management, to name just two categories. Software vendors can fall into the trap of viewing wikis as this rogue sandbox, when in fact, it is a logicial extension of what they already sell.

I agree with much of Troy’s criticism of Confluence and the need for wikis to improve their usability. UI matters, and we need to give this some priority, now that our enterprise features — search, security, plugin library, refactoring, etc. — get good reviews from customers.

Is Microsoft’s Sharepoint Wiki Good Enough?

GartnerWe did a briefing for Gartner today. A lot of the focus was on Confluence because next year Gartner is targeting collaboration, and technologies like wikis, to be one of the top two or three trends they will concentrate on. In addition to the primary purpose of these briefings — let Gartner learn about our products, these briefings give you an opportunity to ask the experts what they think. We asked Gartner what they thought about Sharepoint’s wiki.

Gartner said customers who decide to use Sharepoint’s wiki will not be asking “Is it the best?’, but instead will ask “Is it good enough?”. They added that the real wiki-minded people out there will not be happy with Sharepoint for a wiki. They also pointed out that big customers like Banks who want some degree of diversity in their technology will not want more from Microsoft. Customers who ask “is it good enough?” are the ones Microsoft will pick off.

I think Gartner is right on. Their point about some big customers wanting less dependence on Microsoft is interesting. You might think the pervailing principle is always to reduce vendors. Although this is a common objective with enterprise customers, there is a point at which too much is too much from one company. Now we’ll just wait and see if the Sharepoint wiki is even ‘good enough’.

Why I Like Microsoft and Google

Schizophrenics, step forward. This one’s for you.

How in the world can one like the Evil Empire and Do No Evil? How could I like anything from Microsoft? Afterall, XP is one of the worst nightmares known to software. I was terribly gratified when visiting a customer at Royal Dutch Shell in the Netherlands last week that Shell has skipped XP entirely: still run 2000 and are waiting for Vista. Of course, waiting for Vista is another soap opera. But here’s the point…

Yes, at this moment – fleeting as it may be — I do like both Microsoft and Google. Why? Because they are about to commoditize wikis for the masses and educate another 10 – 50 million people on wikis. In rather different ways. Wikis, which without doubt are one of the two killer apps to emerge from Web 2.0 Wonderland, along with blogs, will be spread and will benefit from the massive marketing budgets and reach of the Evil Empire and Do No Evil.

Microsoft will do wikis in a Gray-Metal-Desk-Bad-Movie kind of way. What a surprise. The current version of Sharepoint’s wiki is frighteningly bad. Shockingly. But let’s be clear: we do not underestimate the power nor the unventilated warehouses full of programmers attacking from Redmond, Washington. Sharepoint’s wiki will improve.

Google, on the other hand, will do it in a Clean-Intuitive-But-What’s-the-
Business-Model? kind of way. That’s because they bought our buddies from JotSpot who we have always respected here at Atlassian. JotSpot looks great and has some neat features. But it’s a reasonable prediction that Google will target a mass market audience and not enterprise customers. If history is any indicator, it’s also reasonable to predict that the wiki will be in service of the search and advertising Money Machine. We have always liked Google, so we not only wish them and Jot well, but we think they will do a good job in their own style of World-Domination-that-Does-Not-Harm-Animals.

So you gotta love ’em. Microsoft and Google in the same breath. It’s a personal struggle, but wikis deserve the publicity.

Fear of Flying

oic.gifThe Online Information 2006 conference in London attracted hundreds of people working in content management and knowledge management from traditional sectors, yet the most popular track was Social Software. Old meets new. The interesting part is: old wants new.

Despite this social stuff being popular, there was a distinct concern about it working in traditional organizations. “Most of what people put on a wiki isn’t inaccurate, you know.”, “How do we police these blogs?”, “You are glossing over the problems of these technologies.” … were a few of the reactions.

When Ben Edwards who runs IBM’s New Media Communications group in Armonk, New York headquarters said, during his panel discussion, that most employees use common sense, nothing was more credible. Afterall, IBM has over 300K employees. Ben continually referred to IBM’s legacy and bureaucracy, but also vividly painted a picture of a company that stands for giving employees freedom and assuming employees are intelligent until proven otherwise. Huzzah. If you don’t know the historical values of IBM, this should come as no surprise. There is a principled heart inside the Giant.

On an Atlassian note, Ben stated that IBM has over 50,000 users on their intranet using our Confluence enterprise wiki. Again, nothing was more credible.

This traditional school ‘fear of flying’ was rather pervasive with many conference attendees. On one hand some of these worries like “the inaccuracy of wikipedia” are scary and a bit ignorant. Let’s remember that wikis in companies are private things and about doing work. When an employee creates a page on a wiki that documents some solution she has devised, why are we worrying about accuracy? She is doing the same work she might do in an email, or in a presentation to her boss, or in a phone call to a customer. The wiki has nothing to do with accuracy. It’s a tool for letting others collaborate with her and better the solution.

On the other hand, these fears are real and unless we really grasp them, we will fail in spreading the power of social software. Linda Stoddart from the United Nations told me you cold not bring any of this stuff to the Secretary General and be credible. Yet the next day, Linda presented and said the wiki word. Huzzah. I must email Linda and let her know the United Nations is already using Confluence. ☺