Embracing Collaborative Web Technologies

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December 29, 2007

Many of us consider Web Technology as the biggest advancement in Innovation. Collaborative effort is encouraged by use of Web Application tools like Email, Forum, Blog and Wiki.

In our company we have support solutions/articles on Forum, Emails and Network Folders. Lately it was becoming more and more difficult to manage information due to the fact that data was located at multiple locations and the most updated copy of data was difficult to find. We needed a centralized location where the accessibility and availability of information/documents was quick, easy and up-to-date.

As a Knowledge Manager, I concluded Wiki was the most logical and technologically feasible solution for an organization of our size.

Forum
You can post questions and you get responses. People come to a forum to communicate, exchange thoughts, etc. However it is not a true form of Knowledge Repository. You would have to search through multiple forum threads to find the answer you are looking for.

Emails
They are not reliable due to the fact that 1) you would always have multiple emails 2) finding the last updated information through the email is not always easy

Network Shared Folders
We have Multiple Copies of the documents on the Network. It’s difficult to determine which one is accurate. Many folders are not backed up daily.

Wiki

  1. Wiki offers a collaborative environment to maintain data.
  2. A controlled environment can be set-up to provide group based read and edit rights.
  3. Wiki is easy to learn and manage.
  4. The Wiki software keeps track of every edit made and it’s a simple process to revert back to a previous version of an article.
  5. Wiki can allow a user defined structure of data management

I tested various Wiki softwares and websites including:

  1. MediaWiki
  2. DokuWiki
  3. Wikispaces

MediaWiki (Official supporter of the Wikipedia Project) came out as the best available Open Source Wiki software. We quickly drew our task force members to lay down policies to:

  1. Define Wiki Advantages over other mediums of communication
  2. Define Wiki policy to be a single source of information and slowly transition on submerging the Forum.
  3. Defining policy on keeping the Wiki constantly updated.

After proper implementation of the policies:

  1. We now have 5 Wiki instances (4 out of 5 use MediaWiki).
  2. There is a controlled environment set to edit Wiki; thus maintaining appropriate quality of data
  3. The most current information is available on Wiki
  4. We are now integrating “Video” uploads on the Wiki allowing employees to upload videos on various services we provide.

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