Wikis for business.

Lots of people are talking about wikis for their use in business and in general.

Do I think they’re useful for business? I certainly do. I think every company should have some sort of wiki. Companies are spending hundreds of thousands to tens of millions on complex intranets and a wiki can do many of the same things. There are some very cool wiki programs out there (e.g., Socialtext and JotSpot as well as MediaWiki) that are extremely powerful (and not too expensive) that are being used by some big companies (Nokia, Kodak, Whole Foods, etc.).

So, what is a wiki useful for? A lot:

  • An intranet to store files, policies, etc.
  • A way to exchange knowledge and know-how.
  • A way to track software bugs, changes, etc.
  • An excellent way to collaborate and manage projects.

There are many more uses, but I’ve found the top uses to be: the ability to store files, policies, etc. as well as a way to exchange knowledge and know-how. Wikis are incredibly useful for staff members putting down what they know for other staff members to see, and vice versa.

Install a wiki and get your staff to start using it. Tell them that if they add information, in the long run, it’ll help everyone (including themselves). Encourage staff members to read the wiki frequently and see if there’s anything they can learn. You can also sort of make your staff read it by putting important company policies and announcements in it. Or if you want to get really mean, maybe a location of the hidden paycheck page?

Regardless of how you get your employees to actually use your wiki, it should eventually become part of your company’s culture. Ensure that they check it when they’re unsure of something or have just learned something new, read it often, and value it as an important source of information.

It’s obvious that wikis are very capable of storing lots of information effectively (look at Wikipedia) and you should work hard to try and make one part of your business. There’s a great article about wikis for business here.
P.S. On an unrelated (to wikis) note, have your customer service staff members read this article on ZDNet.