Wednesday 13 February 2008

Wiki as a Knowledge Management Tool

My research has been focused on the collaboration and knowledge sharing elements of knowledge management in the enterprise. One of the key parts of this is to map what the enterprise wiki pilot is achieving against the basic knowledge cycle I started with when I began my first MSc (I have just started my second!).

So, looking at the 4 elements of the KM cycle above:

Wiki use in the enterprise allows you to combine the knowledge of many teams into one larger, community knowledge base. This gives the users a "place" or "home" for their contributions where they know that they can be easily used by others.

Wiki spaces in products like Confluence & Socialtext are hierarchicaly structured in the parent-child page relationship which makes them easy to understand and to administer. Additional features such as tagging, breadcrumb navigation and powerful contextual search makes information retrieval much better than email + file shares. Some early responses with our wiki pilot have indicated that the benefits of having a web-based document sharing tool which can index-search attachments to provide a more powerful information retreival service is a very welcome addition to their job roles.

Here is where the "Wiki Way" shines. There have been many groupware products in the past which have facilitated centralised, web-based document management, but wiki's provide this with the important collaboration layer that web 2.0 enables on top. They are a much more intuitive environment to interact with and will be around for a long time, as your n-generation graduate intake will already be trained in these environments from their own social interactions on the web!

Use & Reuse
As is mentioned on Stan Garfield's Weekly Knowledge Management Blog this week - 3 major benfitis of KM are avioding redundant effort, avioding repeated mistakes and taking advantage of existing knowledge and expertise within your organisation. A collaborative working environment supported by wiki use can help deliver on some of these benefits.

It is easy to forget the base principles which are enabled by web 2.0 tools when put to use in a business environment. We must be able to recognise the simple goals which culture and technology in the past have prohibited. A changing world with more and more distributed and virtual teams require organisations to provide its knowledge workers with tools which facilitate distributed and virtual collaboration.

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