Blogs And Wikis Move In As E-Mail Overload Becomes UnbearableBlogs 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
November 10, 2006
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.
TIME FOR A FIX
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.
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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.
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