I recently asked a few people in the industry for comments on the use of wikis in the enterprise for a forthcoming article.
Unfortunately, Geoff McQueen from Internetrix, an Internet-based marketing and management software solutions business, didn't quite make my editorial deadline (he has a good excuse - he was out racing cars for charity). However, since he took the time to give me some feedback, I thought I'd post it here in full and unedited:
"Wikis, blogging and instant messaging have all found a demand in the corporate arena. Through experiences 'outside' in private life, innovative users are aware that these tools can improve their productivity at work, and the challenge is to reconcile corporate priorities with innovative user demands, particularly when the users feel that policies are holding them back from being the best they can be.
Like many of the 'generalist' technology toolsets, the flexibility of Wikis is also their greatest drawback in a corporate environment. Because they are a quick and simple platform designed to be as flexible as possible, they’re also prone to messy and inconsistent application due to being 'user driven'. At the opposite end of the scale are the corporate, technology driven solutions offered by vendors, where an often unrepresentative sample of the organisation makes a corporate level commitment to a platform that fails.
One approach that can pay solid dividends is to encourage 'user driven' adoption of flexible and generally unacceptable systems for a defined time period. Organisations can take advantage of the change management benefits of having users – lots of users – pursue a new way of working, and through this process, word of mouth, peer pressure and other psych principles can drive adoption, with the clear understanding that the actual technical mechanics of the system will change once users have 'found their feet'.
As a result, Wikis could best be seen in a corporate environment as a trial, a way to let users set the terms of engagement while accepting that corporate prerogatives – security, ubiquity and sustainability – will gradually take effect within a defined time period. You can even get your most avid contributors, who’ve demonstrated their passion, to form the basis of your evaluation committee when you do decide to go to a corporate/vendor solution."