True to their word, MindTouch (news, site) has released the second of three new collaborative solutions. This latest one offers safe crowd sourcing of your corporate information and is another example of how the MindTouch 2009 platform can be used to develop collaborative networks.
Collaborative Knowledge Base
The first packaged collaborative solution that MindTouch brought to the table was the Collaborative Intranet. This solution included project management workflows and dashboards, providing business processing for the Intranet.
The Collaborative Knowledge Base offers the ability to take corporate documents and publish them to a public site for partners, customers and users. These users can then make changes to the documents, effectively crowd sourcing your corporate information.
MindTouch Collaborative Knowledge Base - Mozilla
MindTouch believes that if you crowd source your information, you can easily keep documents updated and help everyone work better.
Of course there is security to be considered and the Collaborative Knowledge Base is prepared for that. You can assign roles and permissions as necessary for collaboration from various users. In addition, administrator roles can view and approve content changes, including view differential changes, before the they take effect.
MindTouch Collaborative Knowledge Base - RightScale
Multilingual support is also built-in. Users can browse content in their language of choice. In search queries, results are provided in the language of choice, but also in other languages if the content is not available in the selected language.
Both the Collaborative Intranet and the Collaborative Knowledge Base were defined as the top two use cases for collaboration based on community feedback.
A Different View of Enterprise 2.0
When you talk with Aaron Fulkerson, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of MindTouch, it's not hard to see he has a different view of Enterprise 2.0 collaborative solutions than most vendors of social software.
He talked about the evolution of Web 2.0 into the enterprise. When companies began re-purposing Web 2.0 tools for enterprise use, it became clear that individually those applications didn't bring value. So many vendors went out and developed suites of Web 2.0 tools. MindTouch took a different approach.
Fulkerson and his partner Steve Bjorg started out doing research into distributed operating systems at Microsoft. Fulkerson says the challenge of collaboration is the same. Information is everywhere. Getting access to it can be time consuming and challenging. Once you get access, massaging it into actionable format also takes time. Of course, every time you need the information, you are repeating the same process. MindTouch has changed that.
MindTouch's original premise was "content operating system". Not a fancy term, but it fit the bill. Today MindTouch calls it a Collaborative Network, and Fulkerson has discussed it in his article Collaborative Networking for OStatic.
A collaborative network supports the bringing together of business information from disparate systems into a single interface to edit. This is all done in a real-time, secure and well governed manner, effectively creating an information fabric.
The Evolution of MindTouch
The development of packaged solutions is the next stage in the evolution of MindTouch. Fulkerson told CMSWire that MindTouch has the advantage of an extensible platform. This enables the company to execute easily on its strategy of providing horizontal solutions for collaborative networks.
This extensible platform has four primary components:
- Web Services API
- Access Control Layer
- Web Services Orchestration
- Extensible Message Bus
Fulkerson told us that MindTouch would not be the company it is today if they didn't have an open source model. With over 10,000 developers in the community, a 600,000 active install base and a user base of over 20 million, he says that MindTouch is a leader in distributed collaborative solutions, behind only Microsoft SharePoint. Pretty good for a company that is only three years old.
And they aren't done yet. MindTouch has a long term strategy that does the following:
- demonstrates that MindTouch is not a wiki
- more value increases the average sales price
- inspire partners to develop vertical solutions on the MindTouch platform through the development of specific solutions like the Collaborative Intranet and Collaborative Knowledge Base
What's next for MindTouch? Well, there's definitely more coming, we just can't reveal that yet. We can, however, tell you that Fulkerson will get back to his collaborative network series. He told us the topics of the next two articles:
- Case Study on BillMeLater
- Discussion on the components that make up a collaborative network architecture