Are you using wiki in your business? Derived from the Hawaiian word meaning “fast,” the wiki has become a popular knowledge-sharing software tool for both small businesses and corporations. A wiki is a Web site that draws on a special type of collaboration software that allows users to freely create and edit a Web page’s content or any number of interlinked Web pages using a simplified markup language or text editor within the browser. Simply put, a wiki allows anyone involved in a project — from a company’s sales team to project coordinators to management to everyday nine-to-fivers — to create and edit content right on the company’s Web site or Intranet.
Although wikis are capable of handling back and forth conversations between users, they’re best used as a collaborative tool — wikis excel in handling a variety of document types, which gives anyone working on a project the ability to update one centralized document instead of several that can go missing, have different edits that don’t get made, or a number of other problems that can occur when several people collaborate.
Wikis are usually based on an open-source code platform, which means they’re free to implement into your business’s structure. There are also low-cost versions like Socialtext or BrainKeeper that allow businesses to implement media like video or audio; a wiki’s capabilities are only limited by the programming abilities of those using it.
But don’t let this stop you from starting one. In fact, wikis are incredibly easy to start and maintain with little if any knowledge of how the back-end works. Anyone, or those with predetermined editing and updating privileges (if desired), can simply visit the Web site, click the edit button, and make updates directly to the page. But it’s also important to know that if you don’t want an edit or a document altered, you can stop others from making changes. There are also detailed reports available that show who, what, and when changes were made to any page, document, spreadsheet, PowerPoint, or PDF.
Using Your Wiki for Business
Here are three ways your company can use a wiki to consolidate, manage, and collaborate any project, meeting, or workflow agenda.
- The wiki is a great tool for introducing a company intranet quickly and easily: Instead of installing a costly system with a completely dedicated IT staff, the wiki can establish a company-only network that allow its users to share ideas, make corrections, or simply be involved with what’s going on — all in one centralized, secure location.
- Getting lost in the shuffle: With a wiki, a project will no longer be hindered by lost e-mails, misplaced physical documentation, vacationing employees forgetting to mention where they put a report or, most important, not knowing what revision is most current.
- Using other wikis: You’ve heard of Wikipedia, but are you on it? Wikipedia is search engine gold. If you create a wiki page for your business, people searching for you will get an entire entry complete with links, pictures, and many other helpful resources regarding your business.
Don’t forget to use other wiki tools. Google has introduced Sidewiki, which allows you to post information in a sidebar that appears next to Web pages. You can do this by installing the Google toolbar on either Firefox or Internet Explorer. Using Google Sidewiki can help users to collaborate on real-time Web discussions and could be useful for meetings that take place outside of the office — even on pages that aren’t wiki.