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Bad Signs For Enterprise Wiki Providers

from the build-the-market-a-bit... dept

We’ve commented on the enterprise wiki warfare before, when JotSpot joined Socialtext in the marketplace. However, it’s a bit worrisome to find out that JotSpot’s first customer was a former Socialtext customer. While the article talks about the challenges of running a bootstrapped/angel-backed company against a venture-backed company, what’s much more interesting is that JotSpot’s first major customer had to come from someone who had already been sold on the concept of enterprise wikis. That’s a bad sign for the entire space. It’s obviously early, and the companies should be focused on building the market and convincing companies of the value. If they’re already trying to take customers away from each other, it suggests that the market might not really be so big. When you’re in an emerging market, it’s always more profitable to grow the market. In a saturated market, you look to compete over customers. Yes, there are some benefits to taking customers away from competitors, but it seems like a slow-growth strategy, rather than an effort to convince plenty of new companies that they need this particular offering.

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Comments on “Bad Signs For Enterprise Wiki Providers”

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Steve Mueller (user link) says:

Makes Sense To Me

I won’t bother commenting on calling this “a bad sign for the entire space” based on one data point, but JotSpot’s move would make sense to me in two regards.

First, they’ve built a product to be “better” than Socialtext, so selling it to existing Socialtext users makes sense. Not only do they have a ready-made market, but if they have a competitive engagement with Socialtext for a new customer, they can point out that Socialtext customers switched, a persuasive argument.

Second, why not let Socialtext do the hard work of evangelizing wikis to customers and then sweep in with your own product? You can save money on marketing staff if your competitor is marketing the concept for you. Haven’t companies like Microsoft and Dell make a mint doing that?

Josh Hallett (user link) says:

Re: Re: Makes Sense To Me

I have also blogged about this ‘war’. Excerpt here:

My take? Well I will borrow my take from Jeff Jarvis. Here are Jeff’s comments regarding the ‘blog war’ between Engadget (Jason Calacanis’ posse) and Gizmodo (Nick Denton’s crew) over coverage of CES and other gadget goodies. Jason had complained to Jeff that Engadget was far superior to Gizmodo.

Jason is misunderstanding the essence of this new medium. In big, old media — in the age of the power law — only the top guy or maybe the top two won because only the top guys could afford the printing press and the marketing budget. It’s an ‘either-or’ industry.

In this new medium, if you’re alone, you lose, for there’s no one to link to; it’s lonely at the top when you’re the only guy there. This new medium is more like a mall, where having more stores, even competitors, in the same place is better for everybody: better for the “consumers” who get more places to click to, and better for the clickees. This is an “and” medium.

So it’s good for readers that we have both Engadget and Gizmodo covering CES, not to mention Paid Content and I just found some neat stuff at UberGizmo — plus Rihooligan’s and, of course, big media. (Note that you can pretty much cover CES via the PR Newswire.)

It’s also going to be better for every player in the medium, I contend, when they set up ad networks that deliver critical mass of audience across multiple sites to marketers. So competitors will need to cooperate to make more money, or else advertisers won’t bother.

So if I were you, Jason, I’d be glad to Gizmodo and PaidContent were there alongside you — and I’d try to set up an ad network with them, rather than lash out at them. That’s so old media, man.

Yeah! What he said!

Jeff’s right, I really don’t see the market for commercial wiki software as being too crowded. Competition is good. Bad-mouthing your competition will just drive your customers to them.

When I ran my web studio, I knew we provided a quality product at a good rate. I was so confident of our capabilities that I would often tell potential clients to shop around to other local developers to make sure they covered all the bases. Potential clients liked this since it wasn’t a hard sell, plus I never bad-mouthed the competition. What happened? When clients ‘saw’ the competiion, they realized how much better we were. Case closed.

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