Wikis: Where Work Gets Done

Ann All

When I interviewed Aaron Fulkerson, co-founder and CEO of software provider MindTouch, none of his comments made it into the final draft of my story on corporate blogging since it ran long and his remarks duplicated what other sources told me. He got really enthused when we touched upon wikis, which he said were far more popular than blogs at MindTouch. He said:

Wikis are where work gets done. A blog can disseminate information to a wider audience, but to get work done, you go to a wiki, where you collaborate, iterate, pull information together from disparate sources and then hammer something into actionable information.

That's a pretty good definition of a wiki. It's not too far off the one offered in a recent Mashable piece: software that allows you and others to create and edit interlinked Web pages.

 

MindTouch isn't the only company that's had success with wikis. Wikis are a focal point of Cisco's collaboration platform for its employees, as IT Business Edge's Carl Weinschenk found when he interviewed Cisco's senior manager of operations, Patrick Tam, last summer. There's the services strategy wiki, which Tam described as "an interactive mind map." It allows employees to look at the company's strategy themes for the next three years and will re-render itself when clicked on to show a deeper level of detail related to specific initiatives, a functionality facilitated by metadata tagging.

 

Unlike more traditional communications tools like e-mail, wikis facilitate working across functional and organizational boundaries -- those dreaded siloes. They also make it easier to involve folks outside the company, such as suppliers, partners and customers. The Navy's CIO likes wikis and other newer communications tools because of their ability to offer "real-time collaboration [and] messaging across many people."

 

The Mashable article lists four benefits of a wiki:

  • The ability to gather and present information, which should result in "one cohesive idea by the group rather than a series of scattered thoughts."
  • Ability to track revisions so you can view the history of any idea or page.
  • Ability to archive information.
  • Simple to use.

 


It also lists three options for business wiki software, one of which we use at IT Business Edge. Speaking of our wiki, it sadly doesn't get used much. As a small company, we are so used to face-to-face collaboration that I think many of us here don't see a real need for a wiki. Of course, we aren't taking full advantage of our wiki. In August, I wrote about it and listed numerous good uses for a wiki.



Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Oct 15, 2009 4:58 AM Mahendra Lutchman Mahendra Lutchman  says:

Wikis are great and teams can benefit if wikis are used effectively. If a question is asked by a team member, it goes onto the wiki. I have also found that internal blogs is also a great place for knowledge sharing.

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