Customized wikis and out-of-the-box software

Shiv Singh of Avenue A | Razorfish detailed some of their mediawiki customizations. While he starts off questioning whether enterprise wikis are more apt than customized open source based solutions (which can be debated and argued for both ways, see the comments there …), another point caught my eye:

Furthermore, enterprise 2.0 as coined by Andrew McFee is not about cost but about what the software does for its users and how they shape the software themselves.

Well, this is an aspect of McAfee’s SLATES concept that often goes underestimated: Freeform, adaptivity and emergence. We need to prepare for these up-front, we need to design for emergence, so that usage patterns can evolve over time and to allow for easy tweaking and adapting of solutions over time. Then, scalability of social software in the enterprise does not simply equal more users/pages/page impressions/organization units involved/etc., it also implies a high level of adaptivity for a variety of tasks/organizational settings/security requirements/etc.

And yes, this (more holistically interpreted) scalability is a hard requirement for (pre-)packaged solutions … too often the need to prepare for all possible kind of tasks has led to bloated (complex and costly) software, that’s all but lightweight.

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