Friday, December 19, 2008

Wikis and Intel

In business, it's important to align your company with strong partners. It provides added credibility, street cred and benefits. In the case of my enterprise wiki software, eTouch SamePage, we're now a part of the Intel® Software Partner Program.

Through its partner program, Intel offers tools, resources, technology and expertise to help drive top line growth; and by assisting partners from both the technology and marketing angles. From a technology standpoint, it enables a partner to get a better understanding of roadmaps and Intel’s view of the future. From a business perspective, it enables tons of Intel partners to discover and find solutions for their business needs – thereby providing valuable mindshare and exposure.

For these reasons, we believe Intel's technology solutions can further enhance our dynamic enterprise wiki product and help us accomplish goals in a timely manner. This will help to improve our competitive advantage. Plus, Intel is highly respected brand in the tech and business worlds, and we're proud to be associated with the company.

Wikis continue to charm and delight corporations worldwide with their intuitive, friendly, yet powerful approach to solving collaboration aches. SamePage’s partnership with Intel is yet another step towards realizing its potential in this exciting marketplace.

Wednesday, December 3, 2008

Wikis in Academia, Part II

I've posted before about wikis in academia. It's a very important area of potential growth for many wiki companies. At the same time, I'm sure it's a challenge for educational institutions to make investments in software; budgets everywhere are tight.

Even with upfront software-investment costs, I believe wikis are a technology that quickly earn their keep. The investment pays off in the value of the shared knowledge and collaboration.

Today, eTouch SamePage announced it has been selected by the California Institute of Technology’s (Caltech) Atwater Research Group to integrate the wiki for the group’s internal communications. The prestigious research group will use the SamePage enterprise wiki for several purposes, including project collaboration, posting manuals and procedures for lab equipment and research processes, as well as to update, comment and edit information in real time for the lab group of nearly 50 members.

“We selected SamePage because of the ease of setup, use and maintenance,” said Davis Darvish, a Caltech PhD Graduate Student and member of the Atwater Research Group. “It provides excellent features that keep our information secure and only accessible to those who are authorized. Several members of our research group have used SamePage on other projects, and we had received a number of strong recommendations about the enterprise wiki before making our final decision. Plus, it was one of the best-priced hosted full-service wikis we found.”

The members of the Atwater Research Group are obviously bright; they are engaged in interdisciplinary materials and device research, spanning photonics and electronics and with applications in Si-based photonics, plasmonics, renewable energy and mechanically active thin film devices. And so we are proud they selected SamePage among all the wiki and collaboration-software options out there.

In addition, a couple of months ago, Loyola Marymount University (LMU) in Los Angeles announced it was integrating SamePage product for use by the university's IT department, as well as other divisions, for collaboration, knowledge management and long-range planning within its IT department, the backbone for the university's systems. Specifically, LMU will use SamePage to collaborate on multiple campus projects, including the development of new student and faculty-oriented learning spaces in the university library. In addition, academic technology analysts will collaborate on research with faculty in various schools.

It's quite clear that the potential for wiki use within an academic institution is large and varied. And the uptick will continue as more realize its benefits.

Friday, November 14, 2008

Wikis: A Sign O’ The Times

In difficult economic times, companies struggle so many details, such as travel costs, productivity and increasing opportunity costs, just to name a few. The typical initial reaction is to tighten the purse strings, clamp down on spending, stop most business travel and curb expenses. For many, this can bring some elements of operation to a standstill.

On the flip side of that coin is the opportunity trying times afford companies to hone in on their core skills, focus on improving customer service and developing relationships and filling in any gaps. Collaboration and knowledge management tools can assist a company in taking great strides toward improved productivity.

I’ve read quite a few articles recently that discussed how, during times like this, companies can benefit from investing in software that will streamline their business, improve communication and collaboration. Well, that’s practically the dictionary definition of what an enterprise wiki can do.

Wikis allow companies to focus on what’s inside – the knowledge and creativity of its people. Let’s say a company decides not to proceed with the external lead generation program. Instead, salespeople are told to concentrate on the leads they have. Well, then they better become a lot more creative with the sales pitch if they’re going after leads they may already have reached out to.

With a wiki, that sales team, no matter where they are located, can collaborate online, spur creative ideas, discuss and share creative pitches that worked for someone else. With discussion forums and document sharing and editing, the European sales force can pitch in their ideas while the California sales team members are sleeping.

In Alex Jefferies’ recent Sales 2.0 report, he states: “The multitude of uses has led the majority (59%) of best-in-class companies to either leverage, or plan to leverage, internal wikis.”

The most successful companies are doing it; there must be something to it.

Friday, October 31, 2008

Some Things in Life Really Are Free

I’ve written before about wikis in academia. I believe deeply in the value of wikis in this area – for administrators, professors, researchers, as well as for students.

For students, in particular, it is challenging to find the budget for new software and applications to help muddle through the process. But students can benefit so much from using technology for research, group coordination, collaboration, project planning and more.

Plus, students who use and become comfortable with business software and applications while still in school will be more prepared when they enter the workforce. I wish I had a wiki to use to manage my projects while I was in college!

That’s why, although SamePage is an enterprise wiki, I was part of the team that put together the plan to offer SamePage version 4.0 FREE to university students with an .edu email address. All students need to do is sign up at They can include up to five users in their group. It’s simple and straightforward. The interface is user friendly and utilizes a WYSIWYG editor, so students don’t need technical expertise. In addition to the collaboration features, there are discussion forums and a blog element.

Some things in life really are free. And when this phenomenon occurs, people should reach out and grab it. That’s exactly what we hope students will do with SamePage v. 4.0.

Monday, October 20, 2008

Content is King

Alex Jefferies, senior research associate at Aberdeen Group, explains the ‘why’ behind wikis:

“The guiding philosophy behind a wiki is really quite simple: content is king. In other words, the benefit derived from an enterprise wiki depends greatly on the amount of information contributed by users."
The most successful organizations are the ones who are able to spark a high degree of employee adoption. The result of such adoption ranges from a dynamic glossary of company-specific terminology to a forum for new employee ideas. In fact, many organizations are using wikis as a training platform, one where they can centralize FAQs and best practices for use in the onboarding process. The multitude of uses has led the majority (59%) of best-in-class companies to either leverage, or plan to leverage, internal wikis.”

The key findings of Alex’s recent Sales 2.0 report show a correlation between companies that utilize wikis as part of a sales program and improving sales. But what we also know is that a wiki is only as valuable as the content employees put in there.

Not sure what to put on your corporate wiki? According to Stewart Mader, wiki consultant and blogger, “A wiki can be especially useful for commonly needed information, like FAQ, guidelines, HR or purchasing policies.” He gives more details in a recent article.

So go forth and populate your company’s wiki!

Monday, October 13, 2008

SamePage 4.0

Last week, our team was busy with finalizing and announcing SamePage version 4.0. The focus of this release is technology enhancements and product improvements that better meet the needs of large enterprises. Scalability is a key challenge of software implementation in large enterprises. Software can become cost prohibitive, when scaling it up costs an arm and a leg.

That's a key reason SamePage is one of the few wikis that can scale in a cost-effective way.

Some highlights of the new release include:

- Increases scalability for large enterprises.
- Improved performance of wiki based on new Java technologies
- REST-based Web services integrate with other enterprise applications
- Enables direct content creation between the wiki and web portals
- Users can now create and collaborate around charts and tables with new database and chart plug ins
- New baseline version of the software

Alex Jefferies, a senior research analyst with Aberdeen who has just completed a report entitled, Sales 2.0, said:

"Large companies are furiously searching for effective ways to collaborate outside of traditional and laborious methods, such as email. The benefit of an enterprise wiki is that it allows for efficient project or procedure collaboration, without burdening employees with a never-ending flurry of emails. Organizations who are currently using internal wikis have found applicable uses in everything from project collaboration to creating a dynamic glossary of company-specific terms and practices to help onboard new hires."

I fully agree with Alex’s assertion – indeed this has been one of our key messages.

If you prefer, the complete list of features and release notes are available at:

Don't take my word for it though, try it yourself. Anyone can sign up for a free trial; no matter what size your business, or even for personal use.

Wednesday, October 8, 2008

Aberdeen on Sales 2.0

Aberdeen Group just released a Sales 2.0 report: Social Media for Knowledge Management and Sales Collaboration.

The crux of the study is examining how companies are and have the potential to shorten sales cycles and increase productivity by utilizing Web 2.0 tools.

The timing for data like this is impeccable. The US economy is going through tough times, and companies need to proactively sell more to survive and compete in these trying times. Cost-effective tools and technological advancements become that much more valuable during difficult economic periods.

According to the report, 45% of 210 companies surveyed that use social media within both the sales and marketing departments experience year-over-year improvement in lead qualification rates.

“The pressure to increase top-line revenue growth (63%) and improve overall sales productivity (60%) were identified by survey respondents as the top two pressures causing organizations to focus resources on the organizational capabilities and technology enablers use to improve sales performance,” it says in the executive summary.

It’s a good sign for enterprise wikis. Wikis are a cost-effective technology solution to collaboration and knowledge management challenges.

“As sales managers search for effective ways to manage their teams outside the traditional avenues of meetings and emails, wikis allow for project and team collaboration around a certain account or opportunity.”

There are a lot of interesting numbers and concepts expressed in this Aberdeen report that I plan to revisit. For example, Aberdeen’s report stresses how crucial it to the success of an enterprise social media / Sales 2.0 initiative to have the support of senior management. Download the report today.

Friday, September 26, 2008

The Next Phase of Collaboration

This week, Cisco officially launched its new collaboration portfolio consisting of Cisco Unified Communications, Cisco TelePresence and a new Web 2.0 application platform. According to Cisco, all of these use the network as the platform to help enable people to connect, communicate and collaborate from any application, device and workspace.

The new portfolio products include Cisco Unified Communications System Release 7.0, TelePresence Expert on Demand and a Web 2.0 Applications Platform, which is Cisco WebEx® Connect, a new software-as-a-service (SaaS) platform. It integrates presence, instant messaging, Web meetings and team spaces with traditional and Web 2.0 business applications, including SamePage.

As a SamePage team member, I’m looking forward to experiencing the power of Cisco behind our dynamic Wiki. The partnership between SamePage and Cisco WebEx enables enterprises to combine the application mash-up capabilities of WebEx Connect with the collaborative content editing capabilities of the SamePage enterprise Wiki.

It truly creates a powerful new way through which businesses can share information with employees, customers and business associates. I've been using WebEx Connect for the past few months and find the interaction with SamePage is seamless and powerful.

The collaboration market, especially as it relates to Web 2.0 and enterprises, is coming into its own.

Wednesday, September 17, 2008

Academic Wikis

One of the wiki industry’s foremost evangelists, Stewart Mader, is a big believer in the use of wikis in education; he wrote a book on it. More recently, Stewart was quoted in an article in Edutopia introducing educators to the wiki.

The reporter, Grace Rubenstein, opens her article with: “A simple, cheap technology with a funny name will become an even more powerful portal into creative teaching and learning this year.” She goes on to delve into the different ways that wikis can be used in an educational environment.

There are so many levels of potential use of a wiki in education. For example:
  • Students can better manage their projects, assignments, both individual and with teams
  • Teachers and professors can manage classes and assignments, on a daily, quarterly and annual schedule; they can easily create specific project areas for different classes.
  • Teachers and professors within a department can share information, collaborate on successful techniques
  • Research departments can collaborate and share research knowledge
  • Cross-departmental information can be easily shared and disbursed
  • Meeting minutes can be posted for teacher groups and discussions

A number of educational institutions have already determined how to best put wikis to use.

There are free, open-source wikis that are valuable tools for students and teachers. But from a big-picture perspective, a university, college, high school or any other type of school might find that a proprietary software tool allows them to benefit from a wiki while protecting their knowledge base. Teachers and administrators can add varying degrees of security to whatever areas of the wiki need it, while creating general areas in which anyone can participate.

The wiki possibilities are nearly limitless.

Take this, for example. The Edutopia reporter talked with a high school technology teacher in Georgia who has encouraged and organized student collaboration across continents, between the US classroom and Bangladesh. That is obviously a teacher who understands the value of the wiki and is ready to use new technology to benefit students. And that's the kind of inspiration we expect and hope for in our educational institutions and our teachers.

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

From Email’s Cold, Hard Grasp

In the United States, more than $650 billion a year in productivity is lost because of unnecessary interruptions, predominately mundane matters, according to Basex. The firm says that a big chunk of that cost comes from the time it takes people to recover from an interruption and get back to work.

And that doesn’t even say anything about time wasted from spam and junk emails, ‘thank you’ emails, BCC emails you got ‘just in case,’ because Rob is trying to cover his back and so on. Email has a strong grasp on us; there’s no denying it. And there’s no denying its value in many business instances.

In a recent article in the NY Times, Luis Suarez, a self-proclaimed social computing evangelist with IBM wrote: I Freed Myself From E-Mail’s Grip. “I quickly realized that the more messages you answer, the more messages you generate in return,” he wrote.

And millions silently nodded their heads in agreement.

Luis is focusing on using other, new technologies to increase productivity. He’s talking about creating an online environment that fosters collaboration allows people to reclaim their productivity. He’s not spouting ideas that you should stop emailing your mother in South Africa. He’s simply saying, see what else is out there and see if you can shift your communications to other tools.

And maybe, just maybe, the professional masses will find that email is not always the best solution.

Wednesday, September 3, 2008

"Enterprise Social Networking is Inevitable"

Wainhouse Research recently released Volume 1 of The Enterprise Social Networking Landscape report. The basis of the findings? Enterprise social networking is inevitable. It's a $200 million market with some well-established players, as well as a number of small start-ups.

Researcher David Dines
wrote about it on his Enterprise Social Networking blog. He purports that, just like email and instant messaging, employees are going to use social networking tools, no matter what, "so management might as well give them the tools, so they have some input." Dines predicts the business will be $2 billion in 5 years, growing at a rate of approximately 40% annually.

In the executive summary viewable at, it says: "SN [social networking] has core functionality that enables companies to streamline internal business processes like collaboration, data capture, data search and finding experts. Additionally, SN can enhance external communications by providing more avenues and a higher level of interaction with customers, partners and shareholders."

I like the tune they are singing in this report. Dines is reporting on benefits of enterprise SN tools that we've been shouting about from the rooftops for years. (What? You didn't hear us?! Sorry, we'll shout louder!)

In fact, if you read up about tools like enterprise wikis, the reported advantages are consistent across industry and geographical lines. Forward-thinking companies around the world are benefiting every day from improved collaboration and knowledge management. If you ask me, every other company is just missing the boat.

Friday, August 29, 2008

Gartner Analysts Want Web 2.0 at Work

In a recent article on , a journalist delved into the argument of two Gartner analysts who say that Facebook, Twitter, MySpace, and other social applications that allow for messaging and collaboration in the workplace should not be banned.

It’s a fine line for employers to walk – to allow social networking sites or not in the workplace. They can be time sinks, of course. And I agree with the reporter who writes: “Some people spend so much time on these networks that their use of social apps could impede productivity.”

But still, it is important to note that employees like the give and take of creative and collaborative online environments. It’s the way the world is moving. So why can’t employers embrace it and put Web 2.0 technologies to work for them?

That’s part of what makes
enterprise wikis so exciting. Employees can have the instant gratification of sharing information online with their friends/co-workers. Yes, it’s work focused, but employers can define areas that allow employees to have a little more fun with the wiki and to enjoy using the technology. For example, employers can create a community area for staff to create their own pages in. Community policing and the wisdom of crowds inevitably ensure that only appropriate content is created and disseminated through Web 2.0 technologies.

Kudos to Web 2.0 innovators that create Wikis and blog for ensuring harmonious social networking tools within the Enterprise.

Friday, August 22, 2008

Unleashing Wikis

I’ve been working in the world of wikis for some years now. It’s an exciting and useful technology with so many enterprise uses. But lately, the landscape has changed. Wikis have turned a corner and are starting to receive a lot more attention – in corporate uptick, media coverage, blogger discussions and so on. And, I mean, WOW!

But when there’s a lot of noise, there’s a lot to sift through. That can be challenging for corporate tech people looking for a dynamic enterprise wiki solution that is right for their company’s needs. My goal with this blog is to provide an educated, experience outlook on wikis and all the uses, benefits, challenges that relate to them.

Collaboration and knowledge management are key to a company’s success and often challenging areas for businesses, non-profits, educational institutions and so on. I believe wholeheartedly that using technology tools can dramatically improve how a company manages these challenges. I look forward to discussing these issues on this blog.