A wiki is a web based online software that collaborates different kinds of content into one centralized information source. Ezra Goodnoe states that wikis were developed because inputs from many people are more likely to produce positive results, than when they are obtained from an individual; even if the person is an expert. Wikis can be read, written, or edited by anybody at any time. There are, however, exceptional occasions when access to certain sections of a wiki can be limited for privacy and security purposes. Unlike conventional databases, wikis are flexible, cheap, and intelligent. The fact that they are browser based also makes them easy to implement and maintain. Information in wikis can be updated by any user, and the user’s entry counter checked by any user who utilizes the services of the wiki. The purpose of wikis is to provide up to date information in a quicker, easier, and more reliable way than regular database systems do. The fact that its users can access information from wikis using their tablets, smartphones, or laptops eliminates the need for communication methods like e-mails, memos, and phone calls; important information in corporate fields can be shared in corporate wikis, hence, reducing the time required to access it.
How can a company incorporate a wiki in its systems?
Just like other information technology tools, wikis need to be implemented correctly if they are to meet their intended goals (Steve Francia). I have created a summary of tactics that can be used to set up a wiki system in a company:
In order to ensure success in the project, the wiki selected must accommodate all the requirements or at least most of them, for which it was meant. The team setting up the wiki has to ensure that it determines all requirements exhaustively before setting up the system.
b) Access Policies
Some of the organization’s data may be sensitive and confidential; hence there is the need to define and implement access rights so that employees or clients do not access information that the company desires to keep out of the public limelight.
c) Ease of Use
People tend to adopt systems that make work easier for them; hence the need to have a wiki that is easy to navigate through. This can be done by ensuring that the design integrates images, icons, commands, and terms with which users are familiar. In addition, the wiki should contain information that its users normally want, but have trouble accessing due to complex procedures. The fact that this information crucial information is readily available makes users embrace the system.
It is necessary to incorporate every stakeholder in the project in order to inculcate the sense of belongingness. People easily embrace systems that they perceive to be their “own”.
A Success Story at CORT
CORT Business Services, an e-commerce business outfit that rents furniture and helps companies relocate their offices, has used wikis to boost internal collaboration its departments and manage its e-commerce site. With presence in 180 locations and a staff of 2500, the company had a hard time synchronizing its activities until it adopted the use of wikis. These wikis created a platform through which the company’s management and employees could share information quickly and reliably at a cheap price; a company with 25 employees could get an annual subscription of only $1711. The company’s vice president, in charge of information technology and product development, pointed out the importance of people only getting access to information that is relevant to them. He no longer needed to send emails to his juniors on operational issues; he just updated the wiki. When the company’s website, cort, got a bug and needed maintenance, developers could post their progress in the wiki, hence, preventing them from wasting time working on the same issue. According to Lynch, the company has earned a notable return on investment since adopting the use of wikis.