Fortune 500 companies are discovering WordPress. They are figuring out that blogging is a great tool for fostering more open and active collaboration with customers and between employees. This trend was anticipated in several places, including Robert Scoble and Shel Israel’s book Naked Conversations and a recent Forrester report on enterprise blogging by Charlene Li (they listed WordPress as a leading platform).
We began addressing this “enterprise demand” a few months ago with our professional support subscriptions for companies who need help deploying the WordPress open source package. The support service has been a success with new signups every week. But some customers are asking for more. They’d like a fully supported enterprise version of WordPress that easily integrates with other enterprise systems and comes in both hosted and non-hosted form.
Wanting to address this additional demand, but knowing that we have little experience with enterprise sales and integration, we decided to look for a partner. Our search led us to KnowNow, a leading provider of enterprise RSS solutions. KnowNow is building an impressive list of Fortune 500 customers for their RSS aggregation tools (announced ones include Wells Fargo and CSAA). Given their proven ability to satisfy enterprise customers and the complementary nature of RSS and blogging, we feel that they are an ideal partner to bring to market an enterprise optimized version of WordPress. It will be called the KnowNow WordPress Enterprise Edition (KWEE), please check it out and contact them if you’re interested to learn more.
KnowNow plans to be active in the WordPress community and release their enterprise improvements as open source (they are looking to hire WordPress experts who know enterprise software, please contact me if you are interested). This should strengthen the WordPress platform and create more demand for WordPress related services from corporate customers. At the same time, this partnership allows us at Automattic to stay focused on what we do best – creating great publishing software and consumer services like WordPress.com and Akismet.
UPDATE: KnowNow did not make it as a business and the KWEE product is no longer available