Ross Mayfield of Socialtext gave the last keynote of the morning, discussing the evolution of wiki usage in enterprises. Many enterprise systems started out being about automating the business processes, and we ended up with file-centric paradigms of collaboration and rigid document management practices. Wikis, on the other hand, allowed for less rigid collaboration, although it started with a primarily technical user base. Since the introduction of wikis in enterprise environments, the use cases have evolved:
- 2002: techies for project communication
- 2004: business user alternative to email
- 2006: internal Wikipedia
- 2008: process-specific solutions
The real advantage comes when the wikis moves from being “above the flow”, where it stores the artifacts of a business process, to being “in the flow”, that is, an inherent part of the business process. The goal is not to automate the business processes to drive down costs, but to support groups to collaborate on exceptions on processes. In order to do this, enterprise processes, have to be redesigned with transparency and participation capabilities; I’m seeing this from many of the BPM vendors that allow for spontaneous and ad hoc collaboration at any point in the process where the participant feels the need.
Mayfield also used the keynote as an opportunity to talk about their latest product, SocialCalc, a social spreadsheet created in conjunction with Dan Bricklin (the creator of the original VisiCalc spreadsheet, who has lately been dabbling in the concepts of wiki spreadsheets). It looks like this provides the same functionality as Google Docs spreadsheets, but in an on-premise solution behind the firewall, in case you didn’t buy into the Google cloud message this morning.