XWiki vs Enterprise Social Network

in XWiki, the focus is on the document. The goal is to create and collaborate on the document in order to enrich it. The additional social network features offered act as a reinforcement, allowing users to follow the activity of a specific task or document. It encompasses features which support knowledge sharing and boost collaboration.
Logo XWiki Open Source
Logo ESN

What is an Enterprise Social Network (ESN)

Definition and features

An Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is a platform that aims to create or develop social interactions between the individuals within a company by providing them with sharing, linking, searching and following services. It enables users to access information and collaborate by sharing documents. Such a platform enables users to switch from a status of relative anonymity to a virtual presence on the intranet (the birth of digital identity in the company). Contrarily to public social networks, an ESN is internal, meaning most of the data exchanged is private and specific to the life of the company.

The most well known ESN are Yammer, Jive, Bluewiki, and Knowledge Plaza, among which can be found Elgg, BuddyPress and Exo Social as Open Source alternatives. Some offer complimentary modules in the form of collaboration tools in order to ease working around documents or integrations with other types of software. However, in terms of features, most of Enterprise Social Networks include the following:

  • User profile
  • Activity Stream
  • Dashboard
  • Messages
  • Content sharing
  • Search
  • Collaborative spaces
  • Blogs and microblogging
  • Administration tools
  • Statistics

Use cases

For business, Enterprise Social Networks are often installed to complement existing tools within the intranet. Thus, their usage focuses on:

  • Reinforced interactions between the collaborators
  • Improved communication
  • Enhanced internal expertise
  • Shared feedback
  • Lead Changes

What is XWiki?

What is a wiki?

Popularized by the multilingual Wikipedia encyclopedia, a wiki is classically presented as a set of alterable web pages by all users with permissions. It allows the collaborative creation of content (including text, images, videos, etc.), as well as the creation of links between different sets of content. Basic wiki features include the following:

  • Page creation
  • Page modification: adding or suppressing content
  • Creation of links between information
  • Discussion: the creation of a page can generate a lot of exchanges between all the contributors
  • Modification history: What was modified? By whom? When?
  • Rollback: it is always possible to rollback and choose the previous version of the wiki page
  • Rights management: each user registered on a wiki has rights that allow creating, modifying, consulting or deleting pages.

XWiki, a second-generation wiki

XWiki is a flexible and reliable Enterprise Wiki, allowing organizations of all sizes to better collaborate and exchange information in a time and cost effective manner. It distinguishes itself from the other wikis by offering enterprise-oriented features such as:

  • Office documents import (i.e a Word document is transformed to a wiki page; XWiki retains the layout)
  • The management of both structured and unstructured data
  • Export of the data in several formats (PDF, HTML, XAR)
  • An activity stream allowing an overview of all the wiki activities
  • The customization of the wiki (logo, colors, look and feel of menus)
  • Connection to the Enterprise Directory (data retrieval, SSO)
  • Fine rights management (by space, page, user groups)
Developed under the LGPL license, XWiki is an Open Source software supporting full customization and a high level of flexibility. From the appearance of the wiki to creating new applications to address particular problems, with XWiki it is all feasible. Over 750 Apps and Extensions are available for free. In the Enterprise, a collaborative tool like XWiki is used in a private manner for the following needs: Knowledge Base, Procedures Management, Extranet and Communities, Digital Workplace and Custom projects. Additionally, the XWiki SAS company provides a full range of services including consulting, development, support, training and hosting.

Comparison between XWiki and ESN

Both Enterprise Social Networks and XWiki are collaborative platforms providing Enterprise 2.0 functionalities. While the tools share similarities, some disparities persist. On the one hand, an Enterprise Social Network seeks to enable faster, fluid communication and networking among employees. It manages and reports personal data and views through user profiles and activity streams while aiming to improve collaborative work. Its focus is on creating a collaborative space where employee communication and connectivity is intuitive, while document sharing and editing is simplified.

On the other hand, in XWiki, the focus is on the document. The goal is to create and collaborate on the document in order to enrich it. The additional social network features offered act as a reinforcement, allowing users to follow the activity of a specific task or document. It encompasses features which support knowledge sharing and boost collaboration. An Enterprise Social Network is more focused on facilitating discussion and exchange, while XWiki is more oriented towards collaboration, construction, creation.

RSE: the user is the key value XWiki: the information/document is the key value

Strengths and weaknesses

While both XWiki and Enterprise Social Networks each have their strengths, they also display a set of weaknesses. Having grown out of the social networking phenomenon of the early 2000's, Enterprise Social Networks are what CIOs, HR and Communication departments opt for when implementing their social intranets or collaborative platforms. In XWiki's case, as collaborative needs are becoming more prominent in the modern-day business environment, a software offering flexibility in terms of UI and structure customization constitutes a pivotal productivity advantage in the marketplace.

  • Information structuration
  • Knowledge sharing
  • Collaboration around the document
  • Extensible and scalable collaborative platform
  • Application development platform
  • End of silos
  • Development of ideas
  • Synergies
  • Proximity between employees
  • Increased sense of integration
  • Structuring the flow of informal exchange
  • The need to animate the wiki
  • Change of work methods (vs hard drives in-network and emails)
  • Low information structuration
  • Loss of information: pretty fast obsolescence of information
  • Cultural change to handle (people-centered approach, new forms of communication and access to information)
  • Requires Top Management support
  • Animating the network requires extensive effort

Is Enterprise Social Networking feasible with XWiki?

XWiki is the fit for enterprises looking for a collaborative platform which has data and documents structuring as a key criterion and is able to adapt to meet changing business needs. It incorporates a variety of features, among which can be found social focused ones, such as activity streams, user profiles and LDAP directories, status updates, threads, groups and workspaces on demand, along with messaging and email notifications. These enable collaboration between employees, all the while ensuring the focus stays on structuring information, preserving knowledge and making it accessible.

Activity streamComments and annotationsUser profile
ActivityStream.png AddAnnotation.png RegisteredUserProfile.png

Why use XWiki rather than an Enterprise Social Network?

Enterprise Social Networks provide internal spaces where employees can collaborate, but a social intranet is more than a social network. Diversely, XWiki offers extensive features and overcomes most potential weaknesses. Through its Open Source nature, XWiki is built to scale and develop as per business requirements. Livetables make combing through the information available on wiki pages easier. It is even possible to filter data, based on a particular field, and to search by tags. The three supported editors (CKEditor, WYSIWYG and wiki syntax) also make for useful user experiences in terms of extensively editing a wiki page.

Starting with a simple knowledge base and then upgrading it by adding more wikis or features to fit enterprise needs is all possible. The services to be used, features to be added and the deployment method are all choices to be made by the user. The customization abilities are XWiki's driving force. With 15 years of experience and over 500 projects, adaptable and future-oriented, XWiki is the professional Open Source wiki, able to become a real collaborative solution and meet a company’s IT needs, be it Intranet, Extranet or even a Website.

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