Last week we asked whether we needed a Yelp for the enterprise. Ed Borasky suggested that Quora could fill the role of providing crowdsourced reviews of enterprise software vendors. Focus.com, a more business-centric questions and answer site, could possibly do this as well.

But what about Quora for the enterprise? As in, an internal questions and answers for work related questions? Quora hasn't ruled-out doing this itself, but founder Adam D'Angelo says that it would be too much of a distraction for the company to do so anytime soon. In the meantime, two companies offering a Q&A solution for enterprises: MindQuilt and Opzi.

Do We Really Need One?

There are already plenty of enterprise forums and microblogs, why would we need a dedicated questions and answers site? Furthermore, such a thing would be trivial to implement on SharePoint. And if there were a real demand, it seems like something one of the social media suite vendors like Jive and Socialtext could add pretty quickly. We love best-of-breed solutions, but at what point does something become too niche?

The other side of the argument is that a dedicated Q&A format brings a functional structure to a forum or microblog that can encourage adoption and make it easier to solve actual business problems. Rypple is a good example of a company gaining traction by adding some light structure microblogging to create a simple but useful tool.

These types of tools may end up finding success through enterprise app markets.

Opzi

Opzi is a service for organizations building internal Q&A sites. It's currently in private beta. It will use a Yammer-like model: users will sign-up with their company e-mail address and will then be able to ask and answer questions specific to their company. Those that have had an early look say it is very similar to Quora.

MindQuilt

MindQuilt is already available to the public. It bills itself as a knowledge base focused on routing questions to the appropriate person. It's available as a standalone SaaS or through the Google Apps Marketplace.

Co-Founder Daniel Kim doesn't see MindQuilt as competing with Opzi. He writes on Quora: "MindQuilt is more concentrated on the routing problem, i.e. if somebody asks a question, how can we find the best person in the Enterprise to best answer it." However, according to an interview with TechCrunch, Opzi is also looking at the routing problem. MindQuilt co-founder Filippo Diotalevi has some other thoughts on the competition between the two companies on his blog.

MindQuilt is applying gamification principles in an attempt to drive adoption, though Kim admits that the gaming piece may end up being a distraction.

Kim says most of MindQuilt's IP is centered around:

a) How do you ingest content from multiple places b) What are the relevant bits (i.e. out of a 25 page document with 10 pages of boilerplate, what are the juicy bits) c) How can we make sure that a topic can be shared (or restricted) from a group of co-workers

It sounds like access control is a priority for MindQuilt. That's going to be a critical issue for enterprises sharing data across silos.

Conclusion

This is still a young category, and there's a lot of value to be tapped here. We wouldn't be surprised to see companies like Jive and Yammer adding Q&A features in the near future. But if you want to get started with an internal Quora-like site for your organization today, MindQuilt is already available.

Photo by Valerie Everett