Thursday, November 30, 2006

Trashing Wiki vendors..

On Wednesday this week I was Simon the cruel English judge at the Gilbane Event Wiki Idol.

For a more sober and considered blog on this with fulsome links check out the one I have posted today on CMS Watch...

I was not keen on doing this in the first place, fearing potential stereotyping, and though I am certainly opinionated I am at the end of the day a bit of a softie and really hate to hurt any ones feelings. Hence before the competition began I went up the assembling contestants and apologized in advance for what I was going to do to them. By the way at this point I realized that none of the vendors knew what they were getting themselves into - suffice to say that each vendor made a bit of a mess of their presentation and were verbally slaughtered by the judges. (far far worse than the other CM Idols event I had seen)

Did anything good come of this blood fest - well yes, ironically a lot of good. The next day I know that at least 3 of the vendors had notably increased traffic to their booths. But maybe more importantly we all got to see:

  • The Emperor New Clothes
  • Something cool looking to find its place in the World

Wiki's are I think smoke and mirrors, KM software and WCM software pretending that they are something new and hip. With little understanding in some cases of what real businesses are looking for, and an almost naive innocence that people will buy new 'stuff'. I have been around long enough to know there is a buyer somewhere for anything, but to achieve real market mass - and to cross the chasm, you need to do something that add's value. It was hard to see what value this software would bring. Also interesting was to see how many of these products are targeted at Techie's, and if one takes the Open Source model then one can see how there might be a willing niche audience for this kind of software. Beyond that I think the appeal is very limited.


Andrew Roberts said...

So wiki means "quick" for WCM or KM? Is that a bad thing?

A wiki project can be up and running for less than $10,000 in software, hardware and services. I am sure you have seen many WCM projects run past $1M.

For a huge range of departmental and smaller projects wiki makes a lot of sense to me.

alan pelz-sharpe said...

No, in fact if the vendors were positioning themselves as a quick and low cost WCM/KM tool that might well be a good thing indeed!

Problem on the evening in question (and to be fair they were under a lot of pressure) was that the vendor's did a weak job of positioning their value and place in any market.

As a fan of lower cost ECM alternatives you would think I would naturally like the Wiki approach to low cost WCM and Collaboration. Yet the vendors seemed to want to make a point that they did not play in these spaces..


Andrew Roberts said...

Good points Alan, I guess I wasn't there: Scott Abel makes a similar point on the need for wiki vendors to smooth out their pitch.

It might be better for everyone if there was some clearer positioning of how wikis are disrupting/complementing WCM.


AaronF said...

What are you talking about? MindTouch positions itself as exactly this: A simple and effective KM/CMS tool. Moreover, it is an excellent interface to bloated, overly-engineered, overly-complex ECM, KM, etc. So, you can have it either way: 1). lost cost alternative that delivers value immediately 2). an easier and more usable interface to your existing applications.

Wikis are spreading like wildfire through enterprise and smaller businesses because they are simple and effective. I don't understand how you could possibly believe they are smoke and mirrors? Show me an equally effective KM tool as say MindTouch's Wiki. At any price point. You can't do it because there doesn't exist any application that provides the contextually rich storage of information in such a highly usable (and adoptable) package.

The inmates have been running the asylum man (engineering for the sake of engineers) and wikis provide a powerful and easy to use tool for an age old problem: capturing and sharing information.

For a better demo, check this out and you'll get a good idea of what a wiki should be.

alan pelz-sharpe said...

Hi there - not sure why your name (aaronf) does not link back to your Mindtouch blog????

Still, my point (as you can see from my post on both this and CMS Watch, and the reply to Andrew Roberts comments - his link works by the way)

Is that on the evening none of the vendors (including Mindtouch) did well - nobody convinced the judges that anyone had a compelling business case (see Scott Abels blog post on this).

To be generous, I guess that none of the vendors had really done their homework on previous events and so had not prepared properly....

To restate my position - I have no doubt that some of the vendors at the event had developed good technology. My doubts remain around the current ability to articulate the value of that technology and so gain critical mass in the market place.


Tom Grant said...

Well, if the vendors can't articulate their core value proposition--set up web pages full of useful information, to which lots of people can contribute, for a fraction of the cost of a WCM system--they deserve to be slapped around.