Socialtext Optimizes Wiki for Mobile Users

Socialtext Wednesday is due to take the wraps off Miki, a wiki platform optimized for mobile devices, the company said.

By extending wiki use to mobile phones and other wireless devices, Socialtext hopes to further the adoption and usability of wikis.

The startup specializes in providing software and support for enterprises looking to set up their own internal wikis and weblogs. More and more companies are turning to wikis as a way for their staff to work collaboratively while also cutting back on their e-mail communication and time spent in meetings, according to Ross Mayfield, Socialtext cofounder and chief executive officer.

In the corporate world, wikis are websites accessible by any authorized person within or outside the company who can then create, edit or annotate that site’s webpages.

Socialtext is simultaneously announcing Miki at the LinuxWorld conference in Boston and at the Software 2006 conference in Santa Clara, Calif., according to Mayfield.

Miki will be part of release 1.9 of Socialtext’s wiki software. In developing Miki, the company removed features from its existing wiki software to come up with the minimum set of features mobile users would likely require. Socialtext optimized the interface so it would work well with the scroll bars used by devices like Research in Motion’s (RIM’s) BlackBerry, according to Mayfield.

Europe-based investment bank Dresdner Kleinwort Wasserstein has been one of the beta testers of the mobile wiki. The bank has already deployed Socialtext’s software enterprisewide, extending wiki usage outside of the organization to some of its trading partners, according to Mayfield.

The bank worked closely with Socialtext on Miki to give the company a better understanding of the needs of its users, according to Myrto Lazopoulou, Dresdner’s head of user centered design. Dresdner is currently evaluating Miki; feedback from users within the bank has been excellent, she wrote in an e-mail interview.

Dresdner’s official mobile device is RIM’s BlackBerry. "The mobile version of the wiki supports our communications needs," Lazopoulou wrote. "With the mobile version you don’t need to be in front of a computer to access the wiki, you can access it from anywhere. We have many users spending a lot of their time travelling so this is a great solution for keeping them up to date."

In general, adopting wikis has proved useful in many ways at Dresdner including developing documentation and coming up with marketing ideas, according to Lazopoulou.

"In many cases, the more simple the function the more valuable the wiki becomes, for example, simply collating meeting agendas through the wiki has been seen to greatly improve the quality of agendas, cutting meeting times and increasing productivity," she wrote. "People arrive at meetings knowing what they need to discuss, having added items to the agenda that might have been overlooked and removed items that are irrelevant."

An added benefit has been encouraging more junior members of a team to contribute in a way they might not have felt confident about doing before, Lazopoulou added.

-China Martens, IDG News Service

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