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Wikis are the glue holding Intranets together

2008-04-24 - 13:20:30 by Martin Seibert in General
As a knowledge management system and employee portal, a Wiki is of incalculable value within the company network, fueling the Intranet motor.

In an Intranet, standard functions and killer applications are effective

Standard functions include, for example, employee search, forums, and document management. In addition to these, so-called killer applications are spurring on the Intranet. The term was coined by Jakob Nielsen and describes applications that keep the Intranet running and necessary. These are specific to each company and are a result of the individual performance of a company, for instance, in the form of databases. Killer applications are special processes and procedures depicted as web applications and embedded in the Intranet: these applications create value as well as new possibilities.

Let me try to visualize this for you:

  • Let’s imagine the standard- and killer applications as big, round stones that we are putting into a container – the Intranet. This container is, however, only full at first glance, because between the stones there is still space and the volume of the container (potential) is not yet being fully utilized. These spaces can be understood as the functions that an Intranet can currently fill only through roundabout methods, or shouldn’t even try to fill, because for this need there are expensive applications and equally expensive administrators (and their equally expensive billable time) – particularly for content creation and management.

This is where a Wiki can come into play. With a Wiki, it’s possible to depict functionally things that with other Intranet applications are not possible or are limited. Every company hopes to profit from the know-how of its employees. As a knowledge management system, a Wiki – with its open structures and simple operability – is superior to other applications.

Ask yourself again how quickly your employees can find and process information in your Intranet.

Knowledge management: Static or dynamic?

The role structure for document management in the Intranet is inflexible. Often, an administrator has all access rights and is supported in this by merely a few editors. The majority of employees can only read what is available. Many Intranets suffer under the so-called One Administrator’s Syndrome: making changes is so complicated and difficult that in the end, changes are avoided. But ideas can come from every area in a company. Why should knowledge management and creation be in the hands of just a few individuals? A Wiki thrives on the fact that documents can be edited quickly and easily – and by every (authorized) employee. Just try that with a Content Management System in your Intranet.

There are, of course, certain organizational hurdles to be leaped after the creation of a Wiki: After all, employees should use this, too. Therefore, they need to be encouraged to communicate using this application, to post entries, and to build trust. We know from our own experience how quickly in particular the last of these named processes can occur as well as how quickly the system is accepted and grows.

Wikis close functional loopholes

In a Wiki, documents, processes, and elements change and develop very quickly and dynamically. Among other benefits, this raises the efficiency of your teamwork. A Wiki can also be seen as a killer application in your Intranet. It is possible to implement a “knowledge pool” within your Intranet, but only through the use of Wikis can you connect all users to the flow of data as well as the information process.

Wikis are the glue holding Intranets together because they ensure that functional loopholes are closed. In this sense, we can thus complete the metaphor:

  • If we understand the standard- and killer applications as round stones, the Wiki is the sand that is poured into the container, filling the spaces – the total potential of the Intranet can then finally be exhausted.

In principle, an Intranet can do anything, but a Wiki can do it more flexibly, better, and with far greater employee participation. //SEIBERT/MEDIA would be happy to support you in the creation of your own Wiki and to advise you extensively concerning possibilities and potentials.

This essay was originally created by Martin Seibert on 2008-01-25 in German. Please see: 'Wikis sind der Kitt, der Intranets zusammenhält' at //SEIBERT/MEDIA Weblog.

//SEIBERT/MEDIA is one of the professional and expierenced web agencies in Germany. With about 60 employees the company has four divisions: Consulting (Strategy, Concepts, Usability), Design (Webdesign, Printdesign, Corporate Design), Technologies (Frontend, Backend incl. Perl and TWiki-Applications) and Systems (Webhosting, Web Security). //SEIBERT/MEDIA offers the full range of TWiki support from invidual TWiki-Hosting to full-service-implementations of Wikis including Strategy, Concepts, Design, Implementation, editing and training. We run TWiki in our own intranet and support TWiki with some of our customers. We know all of the valuable PlugIns and extensions and can enhance the system in Perl with our programmers. If needed we can offer interfaces to other intranet-applications.



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Topic revision: r2 - 2008-04-24 - FranzJosefGigler

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