MindTouch Expands from Web Content Management to Product Support

When I first profiled MindTouch in 2009, the San Diego startup was focused on its Web-based collaboration software, created to enable a business or engineering team to easily share documents, information, images, and other information. MindTouch faced major competition against Microsoft Sharepoint, Oracle, and SAP, but CEO Aaron Fulkerson saw a potential advantage in developing an open source program on a “freemium” business model.

In mid-2010, however, the company shifted its focus to content management software, making it easier for different business groups within a company to collaborate in developing and managing website content. The product became MindTouch TCS (as in technical communications suite).

Fulkerson says the company “saw really dramatic growth of TCS” begin in 2011, which continued through 2012. In a recent MindTouch blog entry, Fulkerson writes that sales increased by 450 percent last year, and the company added such customers as HTC, Blackboard.com, SuccessFactors, Citrix, and Wind River.

Today MindTouch says it is introducing a new “product experience” platform intended to help big companies unify their product support and customer help services. The company says its MindTouch LightSpeed Content Framework includes “seamlessly integration” with customer relationship management (CRM) and case management software like Salesforce, SAP OnDemand, and Zendesk.

Fulkerson says the technology builds on the collaborative Web-based environment that allows subject matter experts throughout an organization to create Web content without having to become experts in using an authoring tool. By making it easier for corporate customers to create “a unified repository,” Fulkerson says the different business units of big multinational companies will all draw from the same source instead of developing their own Web content.

The LightSpeed Content Framework also enables customers like Blackboard, the Washington D.C.-based educational software developer, to analyze how its customers are using its software and how well its own product support employees are helping users learn how to use its learning programs. Applying analytics to what Fulkerson calls this “fabric of knowledge” about product use and customer support makes it possible for corporate customers to identify the rough spots where customer support needs to be improved.

“There’s been a lot of innovation around ‘reactive’ customer support, but there has not been much innovation in terms of ‘proactive’ customer support,” Fulkerson says.

The MindTouch CEO says the newest version of the company’s technology has become the new focus of the company’s business. MindTouch funded the development internally, and now Fulkerson says, “It’s the only product that matters.”

As for the commercial open source collaboration software that served as the company’s initial focus, Fulkerson says that business has been slowly atrophying since 2010.

Bruce V. Bigelow was the editor of Xconomy San Diego from 2008 to 2018. Read more about his life and work here. Follow @bvbigelow

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