by C.G. Lynch

Socialtext To Add Features to Its Enterprise Wiki

Apr 17, 2008 3 mins
Enterprise Applications

Just a few days before the start of the Web 2.0 Expo conference here in San Francisco next week, Ross Mayfield, President and Co-founder of Socialtext, told CIO last night that the company is adding features to its flagship wiki product, including a dashboard tab that looks something like an iGoogle page for business and a profile feature that brings lightweight social networking to the enterprise.

Other enterprise Web 2.0 vendors, such as Jive software, have made similar upgrades recently.

Mayfield says the new profiles will allow a user to connect with other employees at their companies and facilitate collaboration on key projects more easily. Based on the demo I saw last night, here’s a list of the features worth noting:

Socialtext People: This has some cool functions that go beyond the basic biographical information (such as title, name, job description) that have typified most boring corporate social networks. One in particular, called Activities, allows you to keep a feed where the actions of your colleagues gets pushed into a widget. It works like the mini-feed in Facebook.

For instance, if a colleague updated a wiki containing a press release you are jointly working on together, that information will be pushed to your Activities feed (if you choose to do so). Unlike Facebook, there’s greater control over the settings to prevent you from getting spammed with trivial updates.

“This also moves away from a push model like e-mail, where you get the information whether you like it or not,” says Mayfield. “This is pull model, where you [the user] decide what information you want delivered to you.”

(Mayfield and I recently discussed the pitfalls of e-mail, and traditional enterprise applications in general, here).

Each profile will also have a tag cloud that allows users to connect with pieces of content relevant to them as tagged elsewhere on the Socialtext portal.

Socialtext Dashboard: Think iGoogle for business. Widgets on the page might contain information from their most important business application, and developers can work with Google’s OpenSocial Application Programming Interfaces (APIs) to bring new types of widgets to their users. What I liked especially about this feature was that it provided an avenue to display both business related apps and consumer pages. So a user could see their projects listed in one widget, while scanning the latest headlines in the New York Times (or their media brand of choice) in another – an acknowledgement that the future of collaboration portals should consider work-life balance. Mayfield had a YouTube widget on his portal, for instance.

Mayfield says the new features are in beta with a few Socialtext customers and will be generally released within a quarter from now.