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When is a Wiki or a Blog a Record

This article is part of the Best Practices White Paper Records Management, Risk & Compliance [October 2009]

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Social computing provides new ways to create, collaborate and share information worldwide. Team members can interact and have immediate access to critical business information. Properly deployed, Web 2.0 technologies like wikis, blogs, discussion forums and tagging enable workers to:

  • Break through organizational barriers to collaborate with colleagues, customers and partners; and
  • Find and reuse expertise and information for competitive advantage.

But with these tools, knowledge workers are creating content at an alarming rate. Moreover, Web 2.0 technologies are highly distributed in their deployment, resulting in information that lacks proper corporate controls, leaving companies vulnerable to risk.

Recognizing the impending risk. A research study from AIIM states, "As regards governance of usage and content, only 30% of companies have policies on blogs, forums and social networks, compared to 88% which have policies for email." The study also points out, "Whereas companies would not dream of sending out unapproved press releases or Web pages, less than one in five have any sign-off procedures for blogs, forums and even the company’s Wikipedia entry."1

Gartner Research recently asserted that, "The rapid growth of social networks and the desire for open innovation will require IT organizations balance the need for corporate security with the requirement to accommodate customer and partner conversations. IT will still be expected to manage this content at the back end of the lifecycle."2

  • Collaboration spaces sprout like weeds throughout the enterprise with little or no control over their growth or governance;
  • There’s no visibility into content that might cause litigation risk. Content published in wikis, blogs, discussion forums and personal sites like Facebook echo the litigation risks caused by email, but are less controlled than email;
  • Content may be records of business but are not governed by the organization’s record retention, disposition and security policies; and
  • Corporate intellectual property (IP) can be published outside the organization.

Managers responsible for governance must ask: What should be considered records of business? What is potentially discoverable in litigation? How does my organization manage team sites or workspaces? And, can my company afford the extra storage resources?

ECM and Web 2.0—collaboration with compliance controls. Balancing the benefits of social computing and collaboration with the need to manage and control content can be complex. But by deploying Web 2.0 technologies NOT as standalone separate systems, but rather as an integrated component of enterprise content management (ECM), businesses can capture, manage, store and protect content. ECM serves as an ideal platform for Web 2.0 collaborative workspaces.

If collaboration is done within an ECM infrastructure, capabilities such as records management, workflow, storage management and indexing can improve compliance and encourage content reuse while accelerating competitiveness through collaboration and sharing. IT will not have to worry about the next confidential blog posting and the legal department will not fear what corporate IP lurks in the company’s R&D discussion threads.

Use case: Managing the lifecycle of a collaborative workspace. In a consulting company, knowledge workers set up collaborative workspaces which, if uncontrolled, will multiply and remain in place well after the project is complete. But what if workspaces were created with defined policies for the project’s lifecycle? What if retention policies were pre-defined for documents, artifacts, best practice documents and the workspace itself? When the project comes to a close, project documents and artifacts are automatically archived for safekeeping and the work-in-progress workspace itself is destroyed. There is no rogue workspace consuming storage and causing e-discovery risk.

Use case: Retaining corporate IP as a record. In R&D, engineering professionals work in collaborative teams using wiki pages to rapidly share design ideas, do peer review and publish decisions quickly. However, what they work on needs to be protected and managed—that is, backed up, archived and retained according to retention policies—without getting in the way of free-form collaboration. If the wiki pages sit on an ECM infrastructure, engineers can create and collaborate freely while the organization can manage corporate IP.

With the right policies and technologies in place, your organization can mitigate risk, while enjoying the benefits of Web 2.0 tools.

The Future of Compliant Collaboration

EMC offers the only solution that marries rich Web 2.0 collaboration with compliance and records management services. With EMC Documentum CenterStage and EMC Documentum Retention Policy Services, you can set retention policies on either an entire workspace or any particular object in that space—including blog posts, wiki pages and discussions, as well as related files. Records are managed in place—not moved to another repository, allowing for consistent retention policies across all types of content. Documentum CenterStage, based on Documentum ECM, provides the power of extended enterprise collaboration with the security of good governance for collaborative content. To learn more, visit and

1 AIIM Industry Watch, "Collaboration and Enterprise 2.0: Work-Meets-Play or the Future of Business?"

2 Gartner Research, "Magic Quadrant for Enterprise Content Management."

What does it mean for IT and legal? Both IT managers and corporate lawyers are anticipating the worst from this uncontrolled content growth:

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