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Building a collaboration strategy

The pattern demonstrated above is consistent with the manner in which enterprise organizations are using Web 2.0, particularly wikis. The quickly emerging killer application melds the functionality of a very accessible, simple to use and malleable workspace with a lightweight project management and coordination tool. The use case feeds directly into organizational goals for knowledge management, because the results of the effort are captured in process and easily made available for reuse. People are not required to take extra steps to declare work as knowledge as they are with more formal knowledge management systems. Users find wikis valuable because the effort associated with coordination and collaboration is lower. The broader organization benefits because the knowledge and artifacts that wikis capture are automatically available to the broader organization. That results in a self-managing virtuous cycle (see graphic at http://www.kmworld.com/downloads/57553/CollaborationWikichart.pdf).

Many of the traditional drivers for collaboration—better tools for knowledge workers to interact with one another, to find and use relevant content, and to capture and reuse knowledge—are very well served by Web 2.0 technologies

As your organization develops a broad strategy for collaboration, Forrester recommends that you:

  • Think of wikis as far more than just tools for building an enterprise Wikipedia. While wikis do very well in allowing broad-based generation and management of content, teams also leverage them to manage and collaborate on ephemeral projects and processes. The ease of use and access can make them a compelling tool for a broad array of I&KM scenarios. In many cases, they will prove more applicable than traditional workspace technologies, particularly when content is being generated that can be broadly reused.
  • Determine where wikis fit within a broader collaboration fabric. While wikis offer very compelling Swiss Army knife capabilities, they are not the right tool for every job. In some instances, the structure offered by a more formal workspace will provide a more appropriate solution. As a result, consider how a Web 2.0 strategy complements and integrates with a broader collaboration strategy.
  • Wikis are differentiating in interesting ways, and that requires consideration. While the core functionality that emerged in this research is wiki-centric, many of the solutions highlighted in the study leverage extended capabilities that go well beyond that of basic wikis. Evaluate the need for a more robust Web 2.0 collaboration solution that includes integrated blog, RSS and social networking capabilities.
  • Provide guidance on best use cases. IKM professionals will need to work with business leaders to establish when a wiki is the right tool for a business scenario and when another collaboration or content management technology is more appropriate. Defining factors will include required levels of security, privacy, business process structure and audience, and the format required for final output.
  • Consider cross-organizational interactions. Collaboration does not stop at your organizational boundaries. Some of the higher value scenarios will involve collaborating with business partners, suppliers and, potentially, customers. When developing a collaboration strategy, evaluate the ability of an offering to support cross-organizational processes. Consider a software-as-a-service (SaaS) solution for managing users and security.

Wikis are useful in a wide variety of business scenarios. The beauty of working in wikis is that they are easily customizable, accessible to broad numbers of users, maintain a single source of the truth and can easily turn work output into sustainable knowledge. The danger of wikis is similar to that associated with e-mail, spreadsheets and other tools that enjoy broad generalized usage; they can be abused. Wikis should not be considered the answer to all business problems, and I&KM pros should be prepared to provide prescriptive guidance to users on appropriate usage.

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