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TWiki Success Story of Michelin China


This is a tribute to the good work of all the people who have joined forces to release Twiki.

We have started using Twiki back in 2001 in Michelin China. The main reason why we were interested in Twiki vs. other wikis was because of the access rights management, which you do not have in the traditional Wiki model.

So far, we have been using it for 3 years and have grown to a community of about 400 registered users out of a total 900 user population. Pages viewed are at 12,500 every month with 1,600 pages contributed.

The current site has a total of 1,538 pages, of which 1,294 are alive, the rest being archives of completed projects. This means that the active pages are viewed 10 times on the average every month. Peak access is for Chinaphonebook where pages are viewed 225 times every month (7 pages) and the IT support area (51 pages) which are viewed 74 times in a month

It has become a tool used by various user communities inside our company, and I would like to say thank you to all the developpers of Twiki for the good work.

I have attached below an audience study I did for internal purposes. It explains some of the dynamics of the Twiki adoption through the audience of the Webs representing the most significant traffic. It also shows some of the unique features of Twiki at works.

Chinese content : At some point, we have been struggling with it, but recent versions have been able to handle Chinese so well that part of our content is now bilingual.

Twiki was quickly successful with our users for the following reasons :

  • Read access for any users, even not registered, for the areas which we did not password-protect
  • Easy access ; you only need a browser both to read and to contribute
  • Very light administration : we are able to create a new Web in less than an hour. Users register by themselves and prompt the data owner for access rights to the areas of interest to them
  • Page layout is simple, which avoids spending a lot of time formatting content, unlike a traditional Intranet which required Webmaster assistance for publication
  • From an IT perspective : close to zero maintenance due to the simple technologies we use. At one point in time at least, our server has been up for 6 months in a row.

In short Twiki is a dream for an IT department, as content is easily maintained by the user community, while the maintenance activity is VERY low for the Linux platform.

The early beginnings

We started a new JV in China back in March 2001, and launched an ERP project to accompany our growth, which went live Jan 2003. We were in need of a tool to share the project information both ways within the project team and with a communication circle outside the project team.

We knew about other tools used in other parts of our Company at the time to share project information. Though these tools were fine, past experience to manage a project documents were not too good:

  • difficulty for users to access data as it was locked behind a username/password, even if not confidential
  • a collaboration base of which content is not administered quickly degenerates into a lot of useless garbage inside the base, requiring the administrator to spend a significant amount of time managing data. This is rarely possible, as the project leader himself is usually deeply involved in the project delivery.
  • The client itself is difficult to use from an end-user perspective. In a past project, I have seen one of the major project team members get somebody else to publish documents, as he could never get accustomed to the tool. The Web interface is better, but we still suffer from the underlying tool relative lack of flexibility for ad-hoc document sharing.

Setup was done by 1 person in two hours. So far it has served us well with practically zero administration on the IT side, as content is maintained by many different teams within our Company.

I concur with the BusinessWeek paper (http://www.businessweek.com/technology/content/oct2004/tc2004106_2351.htm) regarding Wikis and their advantages vs. traditional Intranets which are never up to date due to the heavy maintenance process.

Growth phase

At the same time, we also quickly started to use Twiki inside the China IT team, as a knowledge management tool. Our purpose was to share ALL the information, procedures, setup documents, so that we were less dependent on a particular staff member knowledge, so that nobody in the team has any document left in a personal directory. Additionally, and as our team is distributed across China, it gave us the ability to access content from any place.

Other departments later came to us to ask for a tool to share data with their internal customers, which has helped gradually build the current position inside Michelin China organization.

We have attached 3 graphs which show the progression of Twiki adoption within our user community: pages viewed, pages contributed and number of contributors.

Here are some key figures:

  • Total user population (China) : 900
  • Registered Twiki users : 500 (only about 400 are from China, the others are from other countries)
  • Pages viewed per month during the past 3 months : 12,500
  • Pages contributed per month during the past 3 months : 1,600
  • Average number of contributors in the past 3 months : 42

This gives us an average of 14 pages viewed per China user per month, and 4 pages contributed per registered Twiki user.

Looking at the “Pages viewed” graph, we can see the following:

  • Jdeowchina has been very active all along 2002, and decreased sharply from April 2003
  • Itusersupport has been growing from February 2003, and is consistently the most active site generating 1/3 of the traffic
  • Swtsite is a very active site inside one of the factories, and users there find daily data
  • Challengebibendum was a one-off project which peaked in October, when the event took place in Shanghai
  • Chinasp is the HR department site; it was inactive until August 2003 when the HP department started to actively use it. And we see that traffic from users quickly followed.
  • Itchina is the internal IT department Twiki site which has been active since the very beginning. It has been extensively reorganized in February 2003, which is why stats only start then. There is a steady level of activity on this site.


We find a similar pattern on “Pages contributed” (the sum of page saves and file uploads) and Contributors. NB : the definition of pages contributed is really pages saved and file uploads, not only new pages created.


An interesting effect is that we have seen a ramp-up which pretty much levels since April 2003, as no new major site has been implemented. Despite that, we see a steadily growing number of pages viewed, meaning the audience keeps increasing.

This is a view of the progression in the number of contributors publishing content. You can see we are now in a steady state :


The “Maturity Chart” shows this effect: it correlates the ratio of Viewed/Contributed vs. the Contributed/contributor. To the left of the graph, we see that at the beginning of the story, we were having a very large number of pages contributed by a very small number of contributors, with very little audience, as there were as many pages viewed as contributed.


Right now we have moved to the right of the graph, where the volume of contributions per contributor is smaller, but we see a lot more audience for the pages newly contributed.

We have also shown the results of a regression run on the data points. The data set suggest more some asymptotic behaviour.

And finally, here is the evolution of the total pages viewed and contributed every month over time:


This is another view saying that in the beginning the only viewers were the contributors, while in the end, we find a lot more viewers. Growth displays a more or less linear behaviour: the weight of the ‘word of mouth’ across the user community.

-- JeanNoelSimonnet - 02 Dec 2004

Copyright 2004 - Shanghai Michelin Warrior Tyre Co. Ltd.

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Topic revision: r4 - 2010-07-04 - PeterThoeny
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