Gil Yehuda, the Enterprise 2.0 industry analyst (formerly of Forrester Research), has a great post up about his perspective on how PBwiki has evolved over time.
Here within PBHQ, it’s easy for us to forget what the changes to PBwiki look like to the outside world. New features like the Mobile Edition seem like old hat to us, since we’ve been talking about them for so long.
That’s when an outside perspective like Gil’s is valuable for us. While we love the feedback we get from you, our valued users, the fact is, you’re biased. You use PBwiki, so you probably like the product and us.
Someone like Gil, who covers the whole industry and speaks with alternate companies and their customers is much better positioned to judge PBwiki objectively.
Here’s what Gil had to say:
I have been watching as PBwiki adds more business-focused features and services. One important feature was the inclusion of lightweight document management features. You can upload, share, and download files (document, images, etc.) with others. The document management features are not too fancy, but they are good enough for most. When I first saw these features, I thought of the way most people use SharePoint as a simple document management server with some lightweight page markup capabilities. In reality, SharePoint provides a powerful platform that includes much more than document management. But most companies I have spoken with don’t use a small fraction of SharePoint’s features. For many, SharePoint gives them more than they will use, but less than they need. And this begs the question – would you be better served with a hosted wiki that provides simple document management? If you are like many who just use SharePoint for doc management and page markup, but you need to collaborate with partners outside your firewall, then PBwiki becomes quite interesting.
Then PBwiki added a 24/7 end user support service. For just a few bucks more per user, you can get the assurance of online support, anytime. I don’t know how many of their business customers use the support feature, but I’m sure they all like the message that PBwiki is sending by offering this service. Business Wikis are about business – and PBwiki gets it.
And now to this week’s announcement: You can take the wiki with you on your mobile device. Although you don’t get full editing capabilities on the mobile device, you can read wiki pages, search for content, create new pages, and add comments to existing pages. And there’s no fancy URL to remember since PBwiki’s servers detect if you are using an iPhone or BlackBerry and provide you an experienced optimized for your device automatically. This is critical for those business needs that arise when you are not at your computer. Like when you are in a meeting, with a client, a patient, or vendor. On the road, working from home, or on the shop floor. Information availability is critical to agile businesses.
I had a chance to speak with a very satisfied PBwiki customer, an investment holding company that is involved in a bunch of businesses — ranging from aerospace engineering, personnel services, telecommunications, casinos, real estate, you name it. Each business manages their own affairs and technology infrastructure, but the central businesses group collaborates with each of the satellite businesses. The central group is relatively small, and they have no need to spend lots of money on technology infrastructure. but they do need the flexibility to work with their contacts in each of their affiliates.
There are many business with similar profiles — like PR agencies who interface with multiple customers. I spoke with one who expressed the same pattern of need. They need an easy to use, SaaS based, secure platform to co-create and share documents with many partners. They know that email is the wrong tool for fluid collaboration. And they want to keep things simple and cheap. They can handle monthly per-user charges, since they operate that way with other vendors too.
PBwiki provides a compelling option for these Enterprise Wiki buyers. I don’t believe they are the best option for everyone – sorry, but no one offers that silver bullet yet. But I do believe they should be on your short-list if you are looking for hosted wiki solutions.
In the end, it’s easy to get caught up in the individual releases and updates. We live in an attention-deficit world, and it’s just as tempting for companies to try to “win” the news cycle as it is for politicians. But it’s the big picture that matters in the end.