E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

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Wikis in Enterprises Survey – Collaborative Working in Enterprise Environments Using Wikis – First Results Now Available!

Remember the weblog post I created back in June this year around the subject of Wikis in Enterprises Survey – Collaborative Working in Enterprise Environments Using Wikis where I was mentioning the work that Tim Bartel has been doing for his upcoming thesis on Wikis in Enterprises? Well, it looks like the first set of results is now available for public viewing. Tim has just shared a weblog post where he is pointing other folks into that initial sample analysis of the results which he will be providing in full by year end as part of his thesis study. You can find them over here and after going through them there are just a couple of items that I found interesting from those folks who submitted their input:

a. It looks like smaller enterprises are actually making much heavier use of wikis than larger enterprises: Interesting if you come to read further on the results about simplicity and ease of use, including the install. You would expect that large enterprises would be having higher numbers, but it doesn’t seem to be the case.

b. Higher educated knowledge workers seem to be the heaviest wiki users: I was surprised to see this one as well since if there is anything that wikis are very good at is in democratising the way information flows, so I was expecting that a whole bunch of other knowledge workers would be participating further from wikis.

c. Wikis seem to have been there for a while: With a good chunk of them indicating they have been working with wikis for well over a year! Good stuff. Finally, it is slowly, but steadily, grabbing people’s attention within the enterprise.

d. Simplicity of use and simple / fast implementation: These two seem to be the main reasons why wikis get chosen to help knowledge workers collaborate within the enterprise. Nothing really surprising there, I am sure, but it is very reassuring to read that lots of other folks seem to be thinking along the same lines!

e. And, finally, lack of participation: This seems to be the one and only challenge out there for the wider adoption of wikis within the enterprise and somehow it didn’t come out as a surprise either, since that is the same issue I have been facing myself in some of the different wikis that I have been participating myself in. Not only does it take time for the tools to sink in, but at the same time due to the fact that there are all sorts of different options already available out there it would make for a difficult choice to stick around with wikis, specially if they are already comfortable with using whatever other tools.

I am sure that if wikis would be perhaps one of three choices for knowledge worker collaboration they would have a much better chance of getting adopted. However, we all know that the larger the enterprise is, the larger the tools suite would become and people would be looking for alternatives that would allow them to get the job done.

Perhaps now is the time where that tools suite needs to start getting integrated and provide a general and common platform where the best of those tools get combined into coming forward with a single experience. Pretty much along the lines of what, for instance, ITtoolbox is doing at the moment. Check out this other weblog post for some details of how wikis could get integrated with weblogs, forums and some other social networking tidbits to become a very powerful professional networking offering.

That may well be the best chance of survival for wikis within the enterprise before people move on to something else. What do you think ? Would it be a good time to look for some integration or are wikis just not ready for it?

Either way, I am really glad that Tim has shared the first initial set of results from the Wikis in Enterprises as it would surely be quite an interesting and enlightening read for when the final study comes out, something that, I am not sure about you guys, but I am certainly looking forward to it ! And, of course, you will get to hear about it over here, since I am planning to weblog about it as well !

Special thanks to Tim Bartel once again for reaching out and for sharing part of his work thus far. Really useful and worth while investigating further ! Well done !

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  1. Great to read this long post 🙂

    One goal of the survey is to back some presumptions and concretize them (keeping in mind that the results are not exactly representative). So it was pretty clear to me that the simplicity and the ease of use are important factors for using wikis – and this was proved by the results.

    On the other hand, I was surprised that the “financial reason” factor seems to be rather unimportant in the enterprise sector – regarding the sometimes pretty high costs for expert knowledge management systems. But obviously this “initial expense” is negligible.

    Anyway, keeping the employees motivated to use the wiki really can’t be neglected.

  2. Thanks a lot, Tim, for dropping by and for the feedback comments ! Lots of great input ! Yes, I know what you mean when you mention that the sample may not be representative enough, but I guess it is a good start as the first initial results have proved to be. I agree with you about the simplicity and ease of use and that is why I feel that over time more and more knowledge workers would actually open up to adopting wikis. I can imagine there may well be a learning curve but it is surely not as steep as with other tools and as such I feel that it would be just a matter of time before people starting adopting wikis as second nature. That is how powerful they would become. I am sure. We haven’t reached the tipping point and I am certain that when we do we would be looking a lot different towards collaboration and knowledge sharing within the enterprise.

    Regarding the “financial reason” I think that there is a reason for this, actually, and that is the fact that in most cases most wiki engines are actually not products designed and developed by larger enterprises who already have got very expensive enterprise content management systems, so right now it is becoming something like a second-hand tool. But over time that would change and as it does we would be seeing how that wiki-like culture will sink in within the traditional content management systems and they would eventually be part of them. At that point financials will take a whole new perspective and interest in them will grow exponentially. I am sure.

    Thanks again for the feedback !

  3. Tim, I am not sure what happened with your second set of comments but somehow it looks like WordPress ate them all, so I had to recover them from a notification I got. Here you have got them added below to continue further with the discussion:

    “Apropos learning curve:

    Most probable “non-technical employees” would tend towards using a wiki more often if they have not to worry about the wiki syntax. Some wikis already have WYSIWYG editors, but often (from the technical view point) the parsing and converting of the input is painful.

    I think that this will get much easier with Creole (an attempt to standardize wiki syntax) and a wide support of it.

    Seems to be a little bit like the word processing or the creation of web sites (html) in the past.”

    Yes, I certainly agree with you that although WYSIWYG editors may be already available out there it would be much more interesting to see how there is a standardisation of the wiki syntax so that regardless of the wiki engine we would have the opportunity to make use of them all extensively without having to know, or work with, multiple wiki syntax markups. Thus thanks ever so much for the link to Creole. Very useful and worth while following up on resource, indeed ! Appreciated.

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