Blogs And Wikis Move In As E-Mail Overload Becomes Unbearable

Collaborative software lets business people communicate without the management and security hassles of e-mail

Thomas Claburn, Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

November 10, 2006

2 Min Read

Publishing software company Quark has in place systems that "are so heavyweight that people don't use them," says Julie Fouge, senior internal communications specialist at Quark. Last December, it launched a corporate wiki provided by MindTouch. It has proven so successful that Quark has abandoned its intranet for the wiki.

Weighing in at roughly the size of a toaster, the MindTouch DekiBox, a plug-in-and-play wiki appliance, is lightweight as traditional IT installations go. It took only a few hours to get Quark's IT group trained. For users, the basics can be learned in five minutes."We flipped the switch and people started contributing to it from day one," says Fouge.

The wiki has made posting files and information for internal use much easier, keeping some files out of the e-mail system. It also has reduced the amount of time the company's IT staff spends helping users with collaboration issues.


Enterprise software maker SAP adopted Movable Type blogging software as an internal communication channel. Enterprise-friendly features, like its management console and ability to oversee multiple blogs, made Movable Type a good fit, says Jeff Nolan, who left SAP in September after eight years with its venture capital group to become the CEO of custom application startup Teqlo.

(click image for larger view)Wikis keep everyone working

Blogging proved popular at SAP, without extensive evangelism to the company's 35,000 employees. "It was pretty remarkable how word of mouth took over," says Nolan. "Our page views went up consistently over time, as did our download rate."

"E-mail has really broken down in large companies," he says. "We were hamstrung in our ability to talk to the rest of the organization, because we were using e-mail," Nolan says of his time with SAP. "My group was competing for attention just like every other group. I wasn't going to get any attention using e-mail."

But a blog community didn't develop, which is to say that readers didn't offer much in the way of comments or interaction. Nolan attributes that to a reserved corporate culture.

Not everyone is ready to give up on e-mail, not by a long shot. Jennings of Ferris Research observes that when he hears people say "e-mail is broken," they usually mean "my spam filter is broken" or the user interface for dealing with quarantined messages is poorly designed. But even if e-mail is here to stay, some of its power users are packing their bags.

About the Author(s)

Thomas Claburn

Editor at Large, Enterprise Mobility

Thomas Claburn has been writing about business and technology since 1996, for publications such as New Architect, PC Computing, InformationWeek, Salon, Wired, and Ziff Davis Smart Business. Before that, he worked in film and television, having earned a not particularly useful master's degree in film production. He wrote the original treatment for 3DO's Killing Time, a short story that appeared in On Spec, and the screenplay for an independent film called The Hanged Man, which he would later direct. He's the author of a science fiction novel, Reflecting Fires, and a sadly neglected blog, Lot 49. His iPhone game, Blocfall, is available through the iTunes App Store. His wife is a talented jazz singer; he does not sing, which is for the best.

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