Why wikis are conquering the enterprise

The wiki world is running at a fever pitch right now. Socialtext has released Socialtext 2.0, Jotspot has been acquired by Google, Atlassian is approaching 2,000 enterprise customers and Microsoft will enter the space with Windows Sharepoint Services V3.

The enterprise market is hot. From the InternetNews article:

Rather than being driven by senior management, however, adoption is coming mainly from project managers and department-level executives.

Wikis can help companies stimulate innovation:

One reason is that wikis hold the promise of helping companies stimulate more innovation by their employees.

That’s important: 80 percent of CEOs see collaboration as being critical to growth, according to a survey conducted by IBM last March.

Jeff Nolan, the former head of venture capital at enterprise software vendor SAP, agreed that enterprises are struggling to find ways to stimulate innovation.

“Large enterprises are at the barrier of how they can create new ideas,” he told internetnews.com.

On supporting typical organizational activities:

Charles Hill, Lotus lead designer for social computing at IBM, said wikis are an ideal tool for supporting a group that’s trying to get on the same page about a project.

People involved in the project can add pages to the wiki or edit existing pages.

Some enterprise wiki solutions also allow users to attach documents, generate blogs, RSS feeds and even transform wiki pages into e-mails.

 On controlling and segregating wiki content:

But companies should avoid the temptation to be overly controlling, noted Jotspot CEO Joe Kraus.

“You want to be restrictive when it comes to keeping information inside the four walls of the company. Within the company, you want to be more liberal than not,” he told internetnews.com.

Wikis also help address another problem companies have struggled with for years, which is how to collect and retain knowledge that is in people’s heads or in unstructured documents like e-mail.

Previous so-called knowledge-management solutions have foundered because people are loathe to spend time thanklessly regurgitating their experiences into some knowledge repository for the good of the company.

Wikis, on the other hand, are a more natural way for people to explain their thought processes and get kudos along the way.

“Wikis provide a social incentive to share knowledge,” Socialtext CEO Ross Mayfield told internetnews.com. “People don’t like filling in forms, but they enjoy telling stories about their day.”

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