MindTouch, the collaborative software that began as a fork of MediaWiki, has just launched the first of three new turnkey collaborative networks for the enterprise that go far beyond the software's beginnings as a wiki.
With the next two scheduled to be made public in the next six months, this first new release is of the MindTouch Collaborative Intranet.
This intranet is focused on taking all the information from your legacy applications and integrating them in to the much more accessible interface that MindTouch has inherited from its other open source and enterprise implementations. The goal is to take the resources you need and break down the silos that separate them to create a fabric of information that is easy to comb through and work with.
Collaborative NetworksEarlier this month, CEO, Aaron Fulkerson, wrote a post for GigaOM's OStatic on the future of what he describes as collaborative networks, and it's this term that underlies the new strategy by MindTouch.
In direct juxtaposition to social networks, collaborative networks are group-oriented and driven by clear objectives, rather than being communicative in nature. The criticism of social networks and social software as being centered on one-on-one interaction without serious and measurable goals would not only rankle some, it ignores the many-to-many ideal that so many prominent thinkers espouse.
However, Fulkerson's critique of a conversation focus will definitely appeal to the intuition of scores of enterprise software users who don't get the usefulness of, for example, a desktop enterprise microblogging app.
In PracticeThe theory and semantics of social versus collaborative network is key in some respects, but when it comes to settling on a piece of software, the enterprise has little time to waste on such debate.
So what does it mean in practice for MindTouch to become a collaborative network instead of an enterprise wiki?
MindTouch has always been big on mashups. But the new Collaborative Intranet takes the power to combine data sources and brings much more structure to the equation. Business users will get a more wiki-like way of editing and collaborating, but from information sources they're assured to be familiar with, such as CRMs, ERPS and SharePoint.
What's NextThe MindTouch Collaborative Intranet is just the first step for the company in to a trio of solutions that will attempt to edge out traditional enteprise portals of all stripes. With the availability of their first collaborative network, MindTouch is already on the path away from a pure enterprise wiki to a fully-formed collaborative platform.