In the past, you may recall how I have been talking a few times about one of my favourite social software tools out there for teams, communities, and whatever other groups, to get together to collaborate and share knowledge with one another in order to be able to codify some of that tacit knowledge that abounds all over the place. Yes, indeed, wikis. Well, to continue building up further on that wiki social software evangelism here is a really interesting article that I have bumped into thanks to elearningpost titled Why Wikis Are Conquering the Enterprise by Michael Hickins and that I though you would also be interested in reading up further.
In that particular article you would be able to find some interesting and relevant facts as to how much wikis are actually impacting the way knowledge workers get to share knowledge and collaborate within the enterprise, in such a way that they have been able to provide much more value in most cases than making use of some other traditional collaborative tools. For instance, the prediction from Gartner analyst Kathy Harris indicating that "by 2009, 50 percent of U.S. companies will be using wikis". That is just huge, don’t you think ?
What I really liked about the article itself as well, when conveying how relevant wikis are becoming within the enterprise, is the fact that their adoption has been promoted following the trends from the consumer market regarding its own acceptance: from bottom to top. So there would be a good chance that plenty of different project teams and communities may already be using wikis to collaborate, even though companies may not have adopted them widely just yet. Thus those grassroots efforts seem to be having the most significant impact within corporations: that of knowledge workers trying to get their jobs done through the frequent use of wikis to reach out to others and share whatever they would need or want to.
Another important aspect from the article itself that highlights the impact from wikis within businesses is the fact that they are helping out big time boosting innovation by allowing knowledge workers to find a space where they can freely hang out, share what they know, collaborate with others, make it better, reuse it, implement it, in short, innovating at its best. Here is another interesting quote that reflects on that fostering of innovation within businesses:
"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."
That is just so spot on ! And totally in agreement with the initial paragraph I wrote above from this particular weblog post. More and more knowledge workers are finding their way through to wikis in order to share more of that tacit knowledge, that know how, that is actually helping enterprises codify most of the knowledge that was not possible in the recent past using whatever other traditional Intellectual Capital repositories. For many years, plenty of people have been having issues with sharing that Intellectual Capital in different places with which they couldn’t find a single connection. So their knowledge was stored consistently rather in their heads, or their own personal computers, or some obscured databases with access to only a few, which would make it really hard to find and reuse that IC.
However, wikis are becoming ever more popular than ever before because they have got that inherent flavour of social sharing. Sharing within a group, i.e. a team or a community, with some very high visibility on everything that is happening and with some instant gratification of having knowledge workers working through different wiki pages adding content on top of each other’s content. Yes, that gratifying feeling that they are owning part of the knowledge shared along with some others and that they are helping by contributing into something bigger. I know that some folks out there would probably say that most people do not feel comfortable with that. And that is perhaps too true, and an issue to do with the fact that people may not have been able to make the switch just yet and start to trust each other some more in order to do the right thing.
After all, they are all on the same boat building up a better knowledge repository that could be reused all over the place at a later time. So that wide adoption of wikis within the enterprise may not be just yet at the level you would expect. And that is fine. There is no rush. The grassroots efforts I mentioned above are there already. And they are quite strong, so I am sure that it would just be a matter of time before wikis become second nature and part of the business as usual processes. And you know what? I can’t wait for it to happen, because the very moment that takes place social software will certainly transform enterprises into Enterprise 2.0. And that is not a fad. It is here to stay.
Tags: Wikis, Social Software, Web 2.0, Social Networking, Enterprise Wikis, Enterprise 2.0, Knowledge Management, KM, KM 2.0, Innovation, Tacit Knowledge, Knowledge Sharing, Collaboration, Communities, Teamwork, Intellectual Capital, Explicit Knowledge