Saturday 17 June 2006

When doesn't a wiki make good cents?

In response to a blog post by Bill Ives about IBM's Quickplace collaboration tool, Andrew Mitchell asked about the value of traditional enterprise collaboration tools when you consider that you can get "more bang for the buck" from the latest generation of enterprise wikis.

I responded in turn to Andrew's wiki 2x2 collaboration matrix (JPG, 14KB) that he included in his post by commenting:

"I get a little uncomfortable in trying to distinguish between “wikis” and tools such as Quickplace simply on face value. It really comes down to the functionality available and how it actually gets used in practice. Lock down a wiki tool and you end up with just a basic WCMS. In terms of your model, tools like eRoom and Quickplace can integrate presence and conferencing (same time, different place) but may have additional functionality... Also, you can give wiki-like access to users in these tools if you want, you just have to setup the space in the right way."

Andrew replied that wiki software still represents better value for money, even if they only give you 80% of what you need, so why would you bother?

Many organisations still pick traditional collaboration tools over the new wave of enterprise wiki software because they make their total cost of acquisition and ownership decisions from different perspectives, particularly when the pre-existing infrastructure and specific business requirements are taken into account. However, this is why I see a big difference between adopting wiki technology because they are cheap software tools versus using them as part of a strategic decision to move towards creating enterprise 2.0.

Also, as the we've seen in the Motorola example, it can sometimes be cheaper and quicker to use the wiki (and blogging) functionality in an existing platform (in their case, OpenText).

I have some more to say on this, but it will have to wait for another time. BTW In the meantime, I looked at the issue of enterprise wiki software in an IDM article last year, and I wrote a case study on Ernst & Young's use of Quickplace in this book.

And here is another question for another time - when does wiki software stop being a wiki? As we've seen in the past with knowledge management technologies, do we risk labeling every piece of software that provides an edit button a wiki or have we lost sight of the original quick, quick intention?

PS - And yes, this was Flock blogged!

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