Enterprise wiki, wiki

What really is a wiki?

Enterprise wiki is built around “click-to-edit” concept Marketing theory teaches us that we have to put ourselves in the consumer’s shoes to fully understand the benefits he receives from buying our product. As Philip Kotler declares in his “Principles of Marketing” people don’t want a drilling machine, they want a hole in the wall.

So, what really is a wiki from the enterprise consumer’s perspective? A wiki does not introduce a substantially new functionality. Wiki markup is certainly new, but current enterprise wiki products rely on WYSIWYG editing that has been available in most CMS solutions for a long time. How can we explain the rise of the enterprise wiki? What enables a team collaboration product like CentralDesktop to be called a wiki?

I think the most thrilling thing about the wiki is the “EDIT” button. The fact that you can edit the content of a web page just by clicking edit has changed everything. You don’t need to talk to your system administrator to set up an infrastructure for you. There is no content manager or designer to wrap up your content. You just click and contribute like you edit text in a word processor.

Nathan Wallace, in his case study Janssen-Cilag wiki implementation, shows how this simplicity transformed an inefficient local intranet into a live collaboration environment. I particularly like his phrase: “Getting people to contribute at all is hard, so we need to concentrate on letting people do things rather than worrying about what they shouldn’t do”.

From the point-of-view of the consumer, therefore, it is clear that the greatest benefit of a wiki is the simplicity with which he is able to contribute content. Furthermore, we can say that, in general, any product that enables contributing content with a “click to edit” facility is ultimately a wiki.

Alan Buxton, in his case study, “Wikis, User-Generated Content and Procurement Communities”, says: “The initial enthusiasm for a site that “anyone could edit” was replaced with the more realistic understanding that, in order for it to be of any value, “someone” would have to do the actual editing!” I think this raises the next question: is taking the effort out of content editing enough to encourage the user to start publishing….?


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