week 8 – Corporate use of Wikis

Wikis are more and more being made use of within corporations. Wikis allow teams to:

  • Swiftly and simply build a website
  • Do away with chains of e-mail interactions with attachments within a group
  • Steer clear of having to use complex and costly groupware to collaborate with others

A lot of corporate wikis that are for in-house use only and are protected behind a network firewall where access is restricted to only employees. Some corporations choose to host their wiki on the Internet, but are set up as “private” wikis with restricted access

Here’s a short video from Get Connected giving a good overview on how wikis can be used in business:

A great place to get started once you’re convinced wiki’s are the way is WikiMatrix.org which includes the wikichoice wizard, a tool definately necessary in the huge range of wikis available (126 on wikimatrix).

Disney is using wikis in its digital media division to allow staff to review new social- networking applications, evaluate vendors, and share their latest projects.  Albert Cheng, executive vice president of digital media at Disney -ABC Television Group says his team didn’t ask permission to create the internal Web site, they just did it.  The wiki isn’t an act of defiance aimed at the Big Mouse, and it isn’t a goof. Rather, it’s a effective tool for a fast-growing 150- person virtual division.

Future Melbourne – our Community Plan to guide the development of the city through to 2020 – was developed collaboratively using Twiki technology to engage online, allowing everybody to contribute to envisaging the future of Melbourne. The final Future Melbourne public consultation was conducted using traditional consultation methods as well as on-line for one month (May-June 2008). We invited our communities to read, edit and discuss the draft plan on-line. In this period there were more than 7,000 unique visitors, with some 48,000 page views and more than 200 individuals contributing directly by editing the plan and participating in the discussions. The use of Twiki technology allowed our community greater access to participating in the city planning process and was a vital component of our consultation. It has facilitated new ways for governments and policy makers to connect with citizens, ensures greater transparency and accountability and opens the door for more effective collaboration.”

Geoff Lawler, Director, City Planning and Infrastructure

During my studies through university, tafe and high school I have often utilised Wikipedia as a great starting point for research and to get a really great high level understanding on topics.  One of my favorite features of Wikipedia is the integration of links and how they work to make each article so much more than just one article.  When learning a new topic sometimes there are a few new terms one is not familiar with, with Wikipedia these uncommon words can easily be made into links to whole other pages explaining these (as I have done throughout this paragraph).  A couple of points to keep in mind:

  • Do your research properly. Remember that any encyclopedia is a starting point for research, not an ending point.
  • Use your judgment. Remember that all sources have to be evaluated.

Aside from Wikipedia, my experiences with wikis have been fairly limited.  In a few of the companies I have worked at in the past, a few have had a wiki of some flavour, and none of them I have seen utilised effectively.  As I learned in my studies on enterprise applications subject here at QUT, one of the biggest hurdles for companies implementing collaborative software is how to drive adoption.  I believe many of the wikis I have used have suffered from the pitfalls of Metcalfe’s law with low adoption rates (the more people who use something, the more valuable it becomes) and the loss of the project champion to staff turnover which leaves a wiki like a chicken with its head chopped off.  Much like Mike the headless chicken, wiki usage may carry on for quite some time in the enterprise unassisted, but in the end they will always work better with some structure and direction from the top.


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