No, this isn’t a product endorsement 😉
However, the Drupal crowd make a lot of noise in my online neighbourhood and have been getting some good press coverage recently. So, this new Drupal-based intranet package caught my attention today. However, its not the fact that its Drupal powered that interests me, but more the pattern of features in it. Open Atrium includes features such as a dashboard home page, wiki pages, blogging, editing, project spaces, private microblogging (Twitter-style status alerts) etc. This is of course a very similar pattern to what we have already seen emerge in products like Thought Farmer, Social Text and Confluence – and even to an extent SharePoint (with the right Webparts and 3rd-party extensions of course) and IBM Lotus Connections (when partnered up with the right wiki solution).
There is a growing gap between these wiki- or collaboration-centric “suites” and information structure and publishing workflow centric web content management systems that have been the bread and butter of large corporate intranets.
Records management and enterprise content management is probably the one big omission in these new Intranet 2.0 suites, with products like Alfresco being one of the few to bridge both worlds with its Share module. However, out of the box Share lacks some of the richness of the other solutions out there.
If people really want strong document management features in their wiki suite then the open standard Content Management Interoperability Services (CMIS) should make it achievable in the future. But I think the trick is that there needs to be demand for this type of integration to be made available… and being tired with the constraints of old publishing-centric intranets, I don’t hear many people calling out very strongly for that just yet. The reality is that those people who are adopting the new style of intranet suites want to use them as a work platform, not a place for managing content for the sake of it.