Wikis and Blogs vs. Suites | Forrester vs. CMS Watch | Where is the gloom and doom?

November 24, 2008 · · Posted by Jordan Frank

 There seem to be conflicting views on what kinds of IT applications and vendors will get hit the hardest in an economic downturn. Will it be point applications like Wikis and Blogs, or Enterprise 2.0 Suites? Or will it be big ticket collaboration platforms from vendors like Microsoft, OpenText and Documentum?

 ImageBill Ives wrote an excellent review of Oliver Young's October 9, 2008 Forrester report titled Vendors: Prepare For Falling Prices For Enterprise Web 2.0 Collaboration And Productivity Apps. He summarizes Young's prediction of overall falling prices, forced in large part by a combination of "competition, commoditization, bundling and subsumption."

ImageYoung "predicts that the price of point applications like blogs and wikis will fall the most" - as opposed to social networking and mashup applications. That Social Networking price points will remain the most robust follows Young's April 2008 report titled Global Enterprise Web 2.0 Market Forecast: 2007 to 2013. The report anticipates that Social Networking will take the biggest slice of $4.6 Billion in overall Enterprise 2.0 spending by 2013.

ImageYoung's long term prediction is at odds with CMS Watch's Tony Byrne in regards to the short-run winners. October 15, Byrne wrote Jive's layoffs don't portend doom and gloom for social computing. Byrne says he is "hearing a lot of the chatter among social software cognoscenti about how the looming recession will impact the social computing industry." Specifically, he argues that point solution suppliers (e.g those that focus on blogs and wikis) are in a better position to withstand the economic riptide:

"I'll argue that the comprehensive suite vendors -- not just Jive, but also IBM and Oracle, each with pricey collections of social tools -- may get dinged a bit more than the point solutions suppliers focusing on the basics, like blogs and wikis."

So who's right?

I agree with Young's October predictions that bundling will be the rule. But I will extend his reasoning to suggest that Enterprise 2.0 components (blogs, wikis, rss, social networking, tagging and so on) will mesh so tightly that you won't know where blog leaves off and wiki or social network starts. Accordingly, I believe that the issue of whether one type of tool fairs better or worse, or earns more or less of the overall $4.6B pie by 2013, is moot.

You can easily see the difference between blog and wiki point applications in the SAAS offerings for the consumer Web 2.0: Blogger and Typepad are clearly blog tools while Wikipedia is clearly a wiki. But leading products in the Enterprise 2.0 space have focused on bringing together a set of components that work together easily while responding to business focused use cases as well as basic needs like security, ease of deployment, LDAP / Active Directory account integration and similar factors. Increasingly, these products relieve enterprises from having to deploy one of everything. They offer "Web 2.0" in a box, while supporting the same open standards that make Web 2.0 such a hit.

Traction TeamPage was built from day one as a unified platform for workspaces, blogs, wikis, discussion, and tagging. Social networking is and was always part and parcel of collaborative editing, interleaved commentary, and user profiles. Other products in the space got a start in one segment and are trying hard to migrate to other categories. Jive started with Forums while Atlassian and SocialText started with Wikis. All three vendors have added some form of blog capability as a checklist item.

I agree with Byrne that Enterprises will shy away from pricey do-everything collaboration and ECM platforms.

When you consider the cost of Sharepoint at $854 per user for 1,000 users vs. $75 per user for 1,000 users running TeamPage with the FAST Module (or $60 per user without it), it's clear that, in this economic climate, enterprises big and small will think twice about a bulky platform like SharePoint that, in Mike Gotta's words is "cleary challenged in its implementation of blogs and wikis" or in Shawn Shell's words (via Toby Ward's Intranet Blog notes) "does a lot of things but it does very few things very well."

In a tough economic climate which coincides with broad acceptance of emerging "2.0" technology, it's clear that this is the time when companies will choose to Do Something Differently - Spend less for better results.

ImageIn consideration of Wikis as a focus for Enterprise spending, Rob Koplowitiz, in his April 2008 Forrester Report titled "Social Computing Changes The Enterprise Collaboration Landscape" seems to agree with Byrne. In his report, he explains the problem with traditional collaborative platforms and how Wikis win:

"Alternatives for collaborating on these types of activities have generally been email or more traditional collaborative workspaces. While it has been the most heavily used application, email lacks context and can’t serve as a single source of current information, resulting in frustrated users. Collaborative workspaces solve these issues, but are often seen by people as complicated to set up and use. Wikis offer a compelling middle ground that combines ease of use with context around the process and project."

Koplowitz also provides good data to back up his assertion. 49% of respondents indicated that implementing a collaboration strategy is a priority or critical priority for 2008 and, in particular, 24% were Web 2.0 focused. He also explains that 64% are planning or have already started to invest in Wikis.

What is it about wikis and blogs? Wikis and blogs are work-focused. They are where people spend time authoring, the place where human capital can be built - and leveraged. Reading between the lines, I think that is Byrne's key point - that enterprises will invest in these applications to save money while providing productivity focused technology.

As Koplowitz says, "Wikis are the swiss army knives of collaboration." As we say, its blog and wiki focused Enterprise 2.0 platforms like Traction TeamPage that put hypertext to work. TeamPage is the platform for the principal authoring knives (blogs, wikis, and even micro-messaging) as well as the other capabilities - which may include social networking, social tagging, discussion, rss and search.

Given this line of reasoning, I'll conclude that authoring is at the heart of collaborative work and blog and wiki oriented Enterprise 2.0 suites stand the strongest chance (vs. ECM backed Collaboration frameworks and single category E2.0 tools) of doing well in good economic times, or bad.

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