According to a Gartner forecast, 50 percent of U.S. corporations will have implemented wiki’s by 2009. That number should continue to grow as more “Net Generation” employees enter the workforce. For those of us who have been in the corporate environment for more than 10 years the first thing that probably comes to mind is “knowledge management,” but for this new Net Generation worker, “wiki” is a more applicable term.
Why are wiki’s the “communication mode of choice” for workers who are 30 years old or younger? According to a 2007 comScore study (and validated by my 18-year-old daughter) teen email usage was down by 8 percent, compared with a 6 percent increase in e-mailing for users of all ages. So the potential Net Generation workers are already accustomed to going around email and finding faster, and more efficient ways of communicating and getting the job done.
Companies are starting to experiment with wiki’s as a way to better manage work. For example, MWW Group, a mid-sized public relations firm, recently deployed wiki’s to track real-time news updates and facilitate communications with clients.
According to MWW, the benefits include:
- Reduced time spent on e-mail, as the wiki allowed group editing and saved employees from sending hundreds of back-and-forth e-mails.
- Better and faster real-time collaboration among employees.
- A new knowledge base for market intelligence data which workers can collaborate on on a daily basis.
Lastly, as companies experiment with the wiki format they also have to put in place a set of policy guidelines to ensure sensitive and proprietary data stays off of public wiki’s. This happens to be one of the major hurdles in effectively deploying and utilizing wiki’s in a corporate atmosphere. Some issues to be sure to include are:
- Nominating employees as moderators
- Creating explicit policies on what to include and what to avoid in wiki posts
- Encouraging employees to create wiki’s on specific topics which lend themselves to be used as a repository for knowledge sharing