Wiki at Work

http://www.executivebrief.com |  Software, content management, documentation

See how Wiki changes the way businesses manage information.

ExecutiveBrief blog has been emphasizing recently the impact of Web 2.0 technologies in business, such as the way employees used to Web 2.0 activities, such as social networking, social search, Diggs, and social bookmarking will find it difficult to adjust to the typical restrictions imposed by tech departments on office networks. However, no matter the restrictions, there are existing technologies that allow businesses to mimic social networking and Web-based knowledge sharing via Officer Server, as an example.

In recent years, the popularity of wiki enabled the popular online encyclopedia to dislodge Encyclopedia Britannica in both popularity and usage. In spite of the doubts cast upon the authenticity or correctness of information posted by individual contributors to the site’s entries, one study points out that the overall integrity of Wikipedia entries is nearly or just as good as those of Britannica’s. In due course, the collaborative value of knowledge production created by the amateur masses approaches that of the experts’. This supports the thesis posited by James Surowiecki in his book, The Wisdom of Crowds.

In both practice and technology, businesses will learn from the lessons of knowledge sharing and Wikipedia. In the first place, the open-source application is available for use by both private and public enterprises; it has recently become possible for individuals to create their own personal versions of wikis.

So how can the enterprise use the flexibility of wiki as an alternative to traditional content management applications? Similarly to Wikipedia, businesses can harness collaborative knowledge and put it together in one medium that workers and subject matter experts can access for modification or updating.

One sterling example of using wikis is in developing application design documents. From writing high-level design documents to developing specific business analysis and requirements, wikis allow CIOs, software architects, project managers, and engineers to record the needs of the project before actually engaging in its implementation. At the implementation stage, technical project groups can work on their codes before actual quality check and deployment.

Whereas documentation set in formal MS Word templates is the norm, wiki is in a good position to overhaul the entire documentation process, from data gathering to publishing to archiving.

Still, wikis are not only applicable to collaborative documentation efforts. Corporate communications, such as newsletters, FYEO-type reports and memos can be easily written by team members in less than the time it requires a writer to create the draft, submit the document for peer review, modify and then publish the end-product. The final version does not have to be up for editing by everyone, but a discussion module or forum can be created. A discussion module is available in wiki too.

Wiki works best in gathering and managing both technical and non-technical information. Moreover, it just might overhaul the process of developing information and update the work of technical writers, project managers, and corporate communication specialists. Instead of the linear process of documentation, a multi-directional effort can be the norm as more participants are enabled to contribute their ideas or review content.

By ExecutiveBrief
ExecutiveBrief, the technology management resource for business leaders, offers articles loaded with proven tips, techniques, and action plans that companies can use to better manage people, processes and tools – the keys to improving their business performance.
www.executivebrief.com

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