In a lecture in KMWorld 2007 (6-8 Nov), Yair Dembinsky and I talked about this subject in general, and in particular about the unlocked potential of enterprise Wiki. Let me share with you my thoughts about this topic.
As a starting point, let’s look at the main advantages of Wiki –
Wiki is Collaborative – it enables the mass to edit content and comments (talkback/comments). It also provides alerts (via RSS or email).
Another important (sometimes overlooked) feature that Yair emphasized, is that Wikis are associative – in the sense that they provide simple means for creating and browsing networks of issues, and network of people. In terms of installation and administration, Wikis are lean, and have low TCO (I don’t think anyone can measure Wiki’s ROI). Modern Wikis within the firewall are also secure.
However, today’s Wikis have major limitations, when it comes to enterprise usage. First, the leanness and agility inflict the ability to enforce compliance. Secondly, Wikis lack the capability of dealing with structured content. But most importantly, I think, is the fact that Wikis are bad at a crucial aspect of enterprise computing, namely – integration.
All this, I argue, lead to the current situation, where Wiki’s are present in enterprises, but mostly as niche solutions – you don’t find Wiki performing as platform for core business processes. However, I see potential for much better contribution of Wiki to enterprises, and I’ll try to explain how this can happen.
Let’s concentrate on the most important inhibitors for Wikis acceptance into the enterprise, namely – lack of integration capabilities and the breach between the unstructured data stored in Wikis, and the structured data stored in other enterprise application.
In order to solve the integration problem, Wikis should be capable of doing (hopefully – all of) the following:
- Enable mesh-ups of external content into the Wiki
- Consume Enterprise Services (SOA)
- Provide solid scripting capabilities with robust quality assurance
All the above are related to inbound integration. In addition, it is important for Wikis to enable outbound integration – expose Wiki content to additional applications and presentation facets throughout the enterprise
- To the Enterprise Search
- For mesh-up/syndication
- Preferably – via SOA
A major contribution of Wikis would be if they enable harvesting of collective wisdom represented in their content and the relevant metadata (who knows what, what happens when, etc.).
In my next post I’d like to present a happy marriage of Wiki (and its great collaborative editing capabilities), with a promising presentation layer, which enables one click access to the Wiki content.