Recently we were doing an exercise which included getting data frmo a number of people from different parts of the country, collating, updating the data on a regular basis. What this meant was that there were a number of emails going back and forth, which had excel attachments with the updated data. After a few days, and a number of such mails, i was confused as to which excel has thelatest data.
This is something which a lot of people would see sometime. And this is where wikis can play a role. Instead of updating files and emailing them to people, what one could do is, maintain data on a wiki page. This way, the wiki is the one place where the latest data is available. You dont need to try to guess which version of the file has the updated data. All you have to do is to look at the wiki, and you know the picture. Assuming, of course, that everyone is updating the pageas they should be. With the wiki, you go to one place, one url, update whatever you need to update, and save it, and the updated data is available to everyone who needs it. You dont need to send files as attachments (just send the link) and you also dont need to search through email to try to find the mail with the attachment you should be looking at. In this way, wikis can be used to bring the idea of co-creation of content for day-to-day work.
I had run a poll, on twtpoll, posted on this blog, about the way wikis are used in organizations. The results, i think, havent been too unexpected. What i see from the results is what i have seen with the organizations that i interact with. So, what are the results? Lets first look at the question:
What are wikis primarily used for in your organization?
There were three options to choose from: Team Wiki, Corporate Wiki, and Others. What comes from the poll is that 67% of the people who polled, say that wikis are used as team wikis in their organization, while 11% say that their organization has deployed wikis both as a corporate tool, as well as a team collaboration tool. This means that 77% of the people say that wikis are used as team wikis, while 11% say that they are used as a corporate wiki. What wasnt asked here was what the wikis were used for. Maybe that could go on another poll?
The answers, as i said, are not unexpected. More organizations i see today either have, or are deploying wikis as a team collaboration tool. Even some of the organizations which have deployed wikis as a corporate-wide tool, tend to find that usage of wikis within teams is far more. One of the reasons could be that within the team, people are more free to write what they feel like, and interactions tend to be more open. This makes this somewhat on the lines of a knol. As i have written before, this is a tool i believe could be the way forward. I dont believe i know why knol hasnt really taken off the way i had expected it to (i dont use it too much, nor do i see too many people using it, either), but having said that, what i am writing is within the organizational context, so maybe we are talking apples and oranges here. As i have written before here, and here, the completely open form of wikis may not be the option best meeting the requriements of organizations, and a model with limited authoring of wikis widely read, commented and discussed across the organization is probably the way wikis are going to be more and more deployed.
This also goes with the way i think E 2.0 could go forward … as a blend of community and hierarchy … as i have written before here, and here, since this model is one where there is the form of community, with some level of control over specific aspects of the community being built up in the organization hierarchy. Whether this hierarchy is in terms of reporting structures, or in terms of technical expertise is not really relevant, probably.