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Wikis are increasingly used internally by companies and public sector organizations, some as prominent as Adobe Systems, Amazon.com, Intel, Microsoft and the FBI. Depending on the size of a corporation, they may add to or replace centrally-managed content management systems. Their decentralised nature allows them, in principle, to disseminate needed information across an organization more rapidly and more cheaply than a centrally controlled knowledge repository. Wikis can also be used for project management (allowing better collaboration) and even marketing (as wikis for customers).
Features of corporate wikis
For a short overview of what wikis can provide to enterprises compared with traditional CMS, see Wiki#Wikis and content management systems. Features of wikis specifically helpful to a corporation include:
- Allow to glue information via quick-and-easy-to-create pages containing links to other corporate information systems, like people directories, CMS, applications, and thus build up knowledge bases.
- Avoiding e-mail overload. Wikis allow all relevant information to be shared by people working on a given project. Conversely, only the wiki users interested in a given project need look at its associated wiki pages, in contrast to high-traffic mailing lists which may burden many subscribers with many messages, regardless of relevance to particular subscribers. It is also very useful for the project manager to have all the communication stored in one place, which allows them to link the responsibility for every action taken to a particular team member.
- Organizing information. Wikis allow users to structure new and existing information. As with content, the structure of data is sometimes also editable by users; see structured wiki. On the other hand wiki is not strictly hierarchical which might be a disadvantage in corporate context.
- Building consensus. Wikis provide a framework for collaborative writing. Particularly, they allow the structured expression of views disagreed upon by authors on a same page. This feature is very useful when writing documentation, preparing presentations and so on.
- Access rights, roles. Users can be forbidden from viewing and/or editing given pages, depending on their department or role within the organization.
Corporate wiki solutions
A large set of corporate wiki solutions are available; see list of wiki software and comparison of wiki software. Wikis with the required feature set include Foswiki, TWiki, TikiWiki CMS/Groupware, PmWiki, XWiki, MoinMoin and Confluence. Their aim is to provide all ranges of companies with ready-made wiki solutions that can be adapted to SMEs as well as multinational corporations. Amongst those companies, the competition lies as much in corporate philosophy as in what the products look like. For example, MoinMoin and Socialtext value simplicity, where Foswiki, TWiki, XWiki, TikiWiki CMS/Groupware and SMW+ put an emphasis on structured wikis where users can create wiki applications. Most of them have adopted an Open-Source mindset and allow developers or even users to create purposed applications.
Wiki software packages not specifically built for corporations are also used at the workplace, such as MediaWiki or DokuWiki. Although they can be used to build simple knowledgebases and internal websites, they sometimes lack enterprise features such as fine grained access control, per page name space for attachments, or integration with other enterprise tools. SMW+, a wiki based on Semantic MediaWiki, attempts to overcome these shortcomings.
- Comparison of wiki software
- Collaborative editing
- Collaborative writing
- Corporate portal
- Enterprise social software
- Wiki application
- Wikinomics (book)
- Andersen, Espen (2005). Using Wikis in a Corporate Context. In Handbuch E-Learning. A. Hohenstein and K. Wilbers (eds). Cologne, WoltersKluwer. 5.8: 15.
- Guy, Marieke (2006). Wiki or Won't He? A Tale of Public Sector Wikis. Ariadne Issue 49.
- Future Changes - website on enterprise wiki adoption, uses, and case studies, written by Stewart Mader.
- CorporateWikis - a page about corporate wikis on WikiWikiWeb, the very first wiki
- b:Wiki Science/How to start a Wiki#Business Environments
- "Wikis evolve as collaboration tools" - InfoWorld Jan 2007 review of Wiki products designed for enterprise use
- "Corporate Wiki Users: Results of a Survey" — 168 corporate wiki users answered this Survey
- ppetr's blog - several articles about wikis in corporate environment.