Stephen Johnston, my old friend and customer at Nokia, has an extensive post on mobility and Enterprise 2.0. He provides an overview of the category, survey of existing developments, case for Nokia to participate and builds an argument for open and collaborative development. Of course, I'll just extract the section on wikis and collective intelligence:
Amazon is often held up as the first example of a service provider that lets users benefit from collective intelligence through their collaborative filtering engine. So, why would this not also work in areas other than books? For example, "intelligent" CRM software could scan the salesperson's customer responses, and suggests appropriate product offerings based on large numbers of other interactions, potentially also outside the company. (Actually, maybe it does already, it’s been a while since I worked in the industry). Most sales people are inherently mobile, and providing lightweight usable tools that expose this collective intelligence at the right time and in the right context, could be a very valuable offering to mobile users.
Wikis are great at capturing user-created intelligence and are rapidly becoming mainstream in the enterprise space, but if you’ve ever tried using one of today’s wikis from your mobile, you’ll appreciate the inherent problems here. Socialtext have been making moves in this regard, but here is a standard chicken-and-egg problem – limited demand resulting in limited development time, begetting limited offerings. UI and synchronization are the key issues to solve. As noted above, services requring smart and big browsers face an uphill struggle on the mobile. Today’s wikis often suggest side-by-side version control review, and require a big screen to see the differences. Synchronization is a key conceptual challenge with mobile, since they generally are not always on. Wikis rely on having one version of the truth – two people making changes to the same item when offline then syncing later makes would vex Schrödinger himself.
Today project managers in Nokia that I work with will generally just create an empty wiki space as they start a new project. This example is being played out across the corporate landscape, and could well disrupt collaboration applications that are built on the assumption that the designers – cut off from the action – know what’s right for each project. Here Nokia’s interests are well aligned with the wiki companies and web services companies in general – do away with the need for a PC and keep the smarts in the cloud. Once bottom up “architectures of participation” are in place, powerful learnings can then be harnessed - enterprise-focused social networking tools (Ryze, Tribe, LinkedIn) are able to unearth links, activities and dependencies around the organization which traditional hierarchies and organizational structures miss.
There are plenty of ways that mobiles could be used as both in-the-field data gatherers, providing relelvant context, or being the mobile manager’s tool of choice for viewing and interacting with the wisdom of the crowds who have gone before.
If you haven't tried Miki the mobile wiki, log on with your Socialtext hosted credentials at http://mi.ki with your mobile web browser.