Tools & Technologies

Thoughts on Socialtext Wikis at DrKW, Aug 24

One of the comments I made (at 19m40s) during my presentation at the conference here yesterday was that I was going to “rip apart” the Socialtext case study on Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein (a PDF is also available). That language was a bit strong, but I do want to share my reaction to the applications that DrKW is putting the wiki offering to.

Before doing so, please note that I have 10 current Socialtext wikis that I use for my day-to-day personal and professional lives. I find it very helpful.

The executive summary (see p2 of the PDF) discusses three popular uses of the wiki at DrKW:

  1. Managing meetings. Many people use the wiki to compile agendas, update staff on recent events, and record and distribute meeting minutes. Using the wiki decreases the amount of email needed to collate items for the agenda, provides a forum for people to update each other prior to the meeting, and an allows for the easy dissemination of minutes afterwards.
  2. Brainstorming and publishing. The wiki has also proved useful for collating ideas and developing documentation: users starting off with a page of random ideas that, over time, develops into a firm document. They are also using the wiki to publish information and documentation.
  3. Creating presentations. Rapidly creating compelling presentations is difficult in PowerPoint, but the wiki made it easy by allowing users to focus on the content, not the look of the slides. The wiki is now used by approximately 2,500 DrKW employees, and the numbers continue to grow. But challenges remain. Many employees still do not know what a wiki is, or do not feel that a wiki is useful.

On reading this my reaction was but those are very simple things that Notes/Domino shops have been able to do for years and years and years. It’s just like using the discussion database in Notes where everyone is the editor. Why the huge buzz around “wiki” technology when this stuff has been on offer by others for ages? Why the adoption of a wiki in an enterprise environment where Notes/Domino clearly offers much more capability? Why did it take DrKW so long to clue into the fact that there are better things than email to use? Did they try other things that failed?

So here’s my questions:

  • So what’s the difference? Is a wiki merely a replacement for Notes discussion databases?
  • What does wiki technology offer that Notes/Domino doesn’t, and is that difference enough to pass the “who cares?” test?
  • Pricing levels aren’t too far apart … Socialtext is $48 per user per year for a 99 person company vs. Notes Collaboration at $140 per user to buy and then with annual maintenance … so perhaps $65 per user over 3 years. However, given that Notes includes offline synchronization and email and calendar and tasks and various other templates, is that pricing differential enough? Is Socialtext overpriced? Is Notes underpriced? And given all of the other things that you can do with Notes/Domino if you pay for custom development, is it more strategically aligned with the organization to buy a platform for collaboration vs. a point solution for managing meetings?
  • What percentage of the value of Notes does a wiki deliver? I’ve heard someone (I think Ross) saying “you can do 80% of Notes with a wiki at 20% of the cost”. What’s your view? Is it 80% of Notes, or merely 10%?

Yours in grappling to understand / comprehend this world in which we live and operate …

Categories: Tools & Technologies