A panel of experts came together at the Gilbane CMS conference today for an early morning conversation on the role of blogs, wikis, and RSS?in the enterprise. The central theme was that, while these technologies?democratize content and empower? users, they're still not automatic home-runs in the corporate world. Wikis and blog products are embraced because of their ease of use, low cost, and simplicity; more importantly, however, their success depends on organizational buy-in and the willingness of people to change how they communicate. Ross Mayfield, co-founder and CEO of SocialText, a wiki vendor, and one of the three vendors on the panel (CNET Network's Dan Farber was the only non-vendor among the group) said, "It's not the product?the emphasis needs to be on social processes and practices." JotSpot CEO Joe Kraus added that success hinges on the owner of a project and his/her ability to convince participants to stick with it and to the chosen platform.
Still, the panel agreed, in some situations these technologies do not make sense, particularly where data integrity and structure are a priority and in areas impacted by regulatory compliance. To that end, Mayfield quipped, "We may be able to solve cancer, but not all enterprise issues."
As blogs and wikis evolve, they will undoubtedly get more features and potentially become more complex. This is a slippery slope--users from the bottom up are adopting blogs, wikis and RSS because of their simplicity. Mandates to turn them into full content management tools goes against the original premise of the technologies. However, with greater levels of integration through Web services, management systems, directories and XML schemas, wikis will find become more enterprise friendly. Farber noted that these technologies along with IM, IP telephony, workflow, etc. will?transform into something entirely new, so don't get too comfortable with what you see today.