These days, it’s difficult to get too excited about a new piece of collaboration technology, and I waver when I feel myself going too far with testimonials. But I’ve been working on a knowledge management project built on an enterprise wiki platform called Confluence, and I’m inclined at this point to pay it the ultimate compliment: The thing works. The project’s thrown me its share of curves, and the vendor, Australia-based Atlassian, has had a workable answer for every one of them.
I’m prepared to say that virtually everything I’ve done for the last 18 years with enterprise knowledge base tools, I can now do in Confluence at about one twentieth the license cost. This is, as we heard a lot during the late Presidential campaign, a game-changer — a textbook example of disruptive change in a market that was ripe for it.
I’m sure this is true of lots of open source wiki tools, and there are dozens of them to choose from. But I’m hip deep in this project, and I’m having what is unfortunately an all-too-rare experience with technology these days: I’m having a satisfying customer experience.
So KnowledgeFarm is now an Atlassian partner. Confluence isn’t Atlassian’s only product; the company is probably better known for Jira, a bug-tracking system used by a lot of corporate internal software development teams. And there are a host of other products I haven’t even seen yet. For now, I’m immersing myself in the subject matter expertise of Atlassian and its user community with a specific focus on Confluence as a knowledge base platform.
For years, I’ve opened conference presentations with a specific talking point: That in order for KM to amount to anything in corporate business functions, it has to shed all of its ivory-tower trappings and be accepted as a simple discipline, accessible to anyone with ordinary office competencies. I’m sticking to that story, but I’m adding a corollary. These are not the good times, economically, and nothing is sacred — any project deemed discretionary is at high risk of losing its funding. KM, to survive, has to get cheaper. A lot cheaper.
I see wiki tools like Confluence as the means to, for all intents and purposes, strip the enterprise software cost out of the KM funding equation, so that the executive sponsor can keep the project’s focus where it belongs: On people, process and content issues.
If you have an at-risk project, let’s talk about it.