MindTouch, the San Diego based enterprise software company, announced the availability of Technical Communication Suite on friday. This adds a social layer over their powerful content platform, thereby, allowing organizations to build a community around their content. This platform is very handy not only for startups and smaller companies, it is also very important for enterprises pushing their strategic content to the right people. In this post, I am going talk briefly about the technical documentation market and explain Mindtouch’s strategy in this space.
Documentation? It is so boring
Traditionally, technical documentation has been considered boring by the users and as a cost of doing business by the vendors. Either documentation was done using primitive pre-internet tools or by using rudimentary web based tools. The frustration users felt with technical documentation meant that users derived very little value from them and the vendors couldn’t get any tangible benefit for their efforts.
However, with the widespread availability of wikis, technical documentation had a chance for rebirth but it was still one of those things organizations were expected to do for the sake of doing it. With the birth of social software, the communities around any organization moved out of traditional centralized places like forums to various social networks and other socially enhanced sites. The days of centralized communities are fast coming to an end and we are seeing more and more distributed communities popping up on the popular social networking sites like Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, etc.. Traditionally, there was very little integration between the technical documentation and the communities. The increased fragmentation of the communities made matters even more difficult. This lead to a scenario where companies derived less than optimum benefits from the technical documentation part of their business.
However, this need not be the case with modern web based technologies. The powerful web based tools offered organizations an opportunity to leverage the technical documentation with the all pervasive social web to extract more value than what they are getting right now. They could tap into documentation to not only lower the support costs but also
- as a strategic tool for the marketing teams
- shorten the sales cycle
- increase the customer adoption
More importantly, the social nature of modern day documentation software allows collaborative authoring, giving way to much higher quality technical documentation.
What is MindTouch Technical Communication Suite?
MindTouch Technical Communication Suite is an extension of MindTouch’s content platform with the addition of social layers so that the organization’s community stayed close to the technical documentation and the integrated authoring and publishing allowed a much closer collaboration between the peers. This suite includes a set of technologies such as the MindTouch Intelligent Documentation Framework, Curation Analytics, Adaptive Search and Community Content Moderation. These tools not only bring the traditional community tools like forums, FAQ, etc but also newer social tools like blogging, social profiles, badges, etc. along with seamless integration to various social networks.
This suite allows organizations to tap into their technical documentation to attract more users leading to a much lower customer acquisition costs than ever in the past. This also allows organizations to interact closely with their community and also reduce their support costs. They can also take advantage of the third party social networking sites and connecting better with their communities on these sites. As the MindTouch core is built for scale, organizations can easily scale and ensure that their documentation is always available for their users.
Isn’t MindTouch A Collaboration Software company?
Yes, they are. They are still focused on building a highly scalable enterprise grade collaboration software. However, they saw organizations wasting too much money on documentation without fitting into modern day social environment and without realizing any tangible benefits. They spotted a business opportunity where they can make quite a bit of money by not only modernizing the technical documentation for the social era but also by helping companies getting a better ROI. Companies like CompleteGuides.net, ExactTarget, RightScale, Intuit, etc. are already deriving benefits by using MindTouch’s platform. In effect, this move to focus on documentation market allowed MindTouch to rake up some good revenue in the short term while establishing themselves as a leading player in the enterprise collaboration market.
In my talks with Aaron Fulkerson, CEO of MindTouch, and few others who closely observe the company, I get a feeling that MindTouch’s long term focus is still collaboration and they are on the verge of some really interesting announcements. They will continue to improve their platform on the collaboration front. This short deviation towards documentation market is strategic and with a short term focus to get more revenue.
The face of technical documentation has changed and companies like MindTouch are making it more attractive investment and, also, more socially aware. Putting the communities closer to the documentations reduces both the customer acquisition costs and the support costs. They are doing a good job going behind documentation space while focussed on Collaboration space. I am still worried about their cloud strategy. Even though they have a cloud offering, I haven’t seen much innovation in that side. By now, it is quite obvious that enterprises are warming up to cloud computing more and more and it is important for the future looking companies to focus more on that side. I am hoping that MindTouch have something up in their sleeves to attack the cloud market. Anyhow, I have been watching MindTouch ever since they were a tiny open source wiki company and I have seen them evolve rapidly adjusting very well to the market needs. I am pretty sure they are going to be one of the important players in the collaboration space in the coming decade.
Related articles by Zemanta
- MindTouch Technical Communications Suite: An Answer to Boring Manpages (ostatic.com)
- A Platform for Selling Guides and Creating Support Networks (readwriteweb.com)
- Replacing SharePoint with Open Source CMSs (itexpertvoice.com)
- San Diego’s MindTouch Launches Next-Generation Version of Content Development Platform (xconomy.com)