More on How to Build Your Own Wikipedia

More on How to Build Your Own Wikipedia

The technology popularized by Wikipedia can help companies gather and manage their own collective knowledge. Here's how to get started

This story was updated from an earlier version to include new reporting. Read the previous version here .

Tony Pagliarulo, VP of application development with information technology vendor EMC, and his team were building a knowledge management system three years ago and needed a way to organize in one place all of the schedules, code and other details of the project. He chose a wiki — a software application that allows groups of users to create, edit and comment on online documents — so that each team member could contribute and access up-to-date information on the project.

Diverse organizations, including businesses, schools and government agencies, are waking up to the benefits of wikis

Because his team had the most current information, they were able to make better decisions and get the project done faster.

And Pagliarulo has used wikis to manage IT projects at EMC ever since. Meanwhile, EMC's use of wikis has expanded to support other business functions and purposes. "Wikis are now used broadly throughout EMC to store documents, create logs and encourage discussions," Pagliarulo says. "There are hundreds of communities used for project management and team-building."

Diverse organizations, including businesses, schools and government agencies, are waking up to the benefits of wikis — one of the group of Web-based applications designed to improve information sharing and collaboration known collectively as Web 2.0. By making it easier to gather and share information as well as record discussions about a subject, wikis (familiar as the software behind online encyclopaedia Wikipedia) can help people improve their processes and get projects done faster. Among 311 CIOs who participated in CIO's 2008 Consumer Technology survey in January, 30 percent said they provide wikis as corporate applications. Almost half of those who use wikis said they employ them primarily as a collaboration tool, with employee communication cited as the second most common reason for supporting wiki software.

There are more positives than negatives to using wikis. They don't require a lot of personnel to support them and many of the tools are free. At some companies, end users run their own wikis, without help from IT (and sometimes without IT's knowledge — more on that shortly). But for organizations that want to deploy wikis enterprisewide, or where it's important that end users follow consistent rules, IT departments must be prepared not only to choose the right software and support it, but also to help define the purpose, structure and scope of company wikis.

Here's how to get started:

Join the CIO Australia group on LinkedIn. The group is open to CIOs, IT Directors, COOs, CTOs and senior IT managers.

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