While Wikipedia has garnered headlines and generated tremendous mainstream awareness of wiki technology, wikis may have their greatest impact within the enterprise. Unlike previous knowledge management and collaboration tools, wikis provide an easy-to-use, flexible tool that can enhance existing workflow and processes, rather than requiring re-engineering. As such, wikis present an opportunity to revolutionize collaboration within the enterprise much as email has revolutionized communication.
In the enterprise, wikis may be used for knowledge management, document management, project management, documentation, scheduling, meetings, directories, and more. Unlike most other collaborating applications, wikis are simple enough to use without special training or a large degree of tech-skill. Enterprises and organizations are rapidly adopting wikis as part of their standard business processes. 33% of enterprises are already using wikis and another 32% plan to do so within 2 years (Economist Intelligence Unit 2007).
Why enterprises plan to use wikis? There are three key characteristics that make them ideal for enterprise collaboration:
- Wikis are inherently collaboration
- Wikis are extremely flexible
- Wikis are easy to adopt and use
Wikis address the shortcomings of previous collaboration tools and provide complementary functionality. Indeed, their very flexibility allows them to help “glue” various tools and platforms together (PBworks White Paper 2009).
Wikis in the enterprise:
- In 2004, Nokia Research center created two wikis. One is to collaborate on specific product-design problems. The other one is to explore alternative to email and collaborative software. Today, the Nokia wiki pages are well designed and integrated. It is estimated that at least 20% of its 68,000 employees use wiki pages to update schedules and project status, trade ideas, edit files and so on. Here is a screen capture of Nokia wiki.
- Austrian Alpha subsidiary has adopted wiki into the enterprise for more than two years. This wiki is used to develop and research highly innovative technical parts for automotive industry and industrial electronics. Results after a few years of wiki adoption, there are approximately 500 wiki-articles, which are periodically utilized by around 70 local employees, 15 of them highly involved in editing (Stocker, A. and K. Tochtermann 2008). One important value gained from the wiki for individual is the simple and easy to use full-text search, allowing quick guidance for emerging problems. Second, wiki articles incorporated formulations of both problems and their solutions on a very basic – easy to understand – level, which was adequate to the special needs of researchers. Another benefit dealt with the satisfying level of transparency gained on support knowledge and respective knowledge barriers.
It is apparent that wikis are successfully adopted in enterprises. Recently, I have gained some experiences about using wiki within my studying. We have created wiki-page which is dedicated for class discussion. All of students contribute to this site with different kinds of topics about new media. Through this collaboration, we share knowledge and opinions with others. Everyone makes contributions for the site every week.
In brief, Wikis represent a strong solution for enterprise collaboration. Their flexibility and ease of use make it easy to take a bottom-up in which your users can start small and add incrementally and steadily to their wiki usage. Whether people are trying to manage projects, share knowledge, or simply document how the business works, wikis offer a collaboration solution that people will actually use.
- Economist Intelligence Unit. 2007. The value of knowledge – European firms and the intellectual property challenge.
- PBworks White Paper. 2009. How Wikis Enable Enterprise Collaboration.
- Stocker, A. and K. Tochtermann. 2008. Exploring the value of enterprise wikis.
- The Gilbane Report. 2005. Blogs & Wikis: Technologies for Enterprise Application?