When someone says Wiki, the first thing that comes to mind to most people is Wikipedia. Still, there are many business organizations who have found the use of Wiki Software for building websites, improving collaboration between employees, building FAQ sections for customers, and more. Let’s look at why wiki software has grown popular in the last decade and how it is applied in various information sharing and collaboration processes.
How Has Wiki Software Grown
Despite the fact that Wikipedia is the most well-known wiki at the moment, it is a fairly new concept. The very first wiki was built by Ward Cunningham in 1994 and the main idea behind it was to give a medium that programmers could use to communicate and exchange their ideas on the web.
Wikis were fairly unknown outside the programming community until 2001, when Wikipedia was launched. However, very soon the benefits of an enterprise wiki software became clear to all business organizations, regardless of their industry or size. Wikis quickly became popular because, with them, creating and modifying tons of information became easy and centralized. The other element for its popularity was ease of access – using “wikitext”, which is a simple markup language, where users only had to register and use their web browser to become active participants of an online community.
Since wikis have huge versatility, wiki software was and still is used in many different ways. Organizations use it to create and maintain a strong web presence. Frequently, business organizations base their entire websites on an enterprise wiki software. By doing this, the companies can provide their customers with:
- A library filled with content where almost any information regarding the company can be found
- A place where customers can easily find answers to their questions and offer feedback
- An internal knowledge base for employees to share knowledge with each other.
These are the three main reasons why wiki software is used by enterprises to create a corporate wiki.
Today, wikis are widely adopted by big and small business organizations worldwide. The most famous wikis on the internet are free for anyone to read, edit or create brand new content. However, not all of them are on public servers and company administrators can install this software with limited access, so that they can protect sensitive information that is meant to be kept inside the business organization.
Transparent and Accessible Content Library
Since wikis were originally designed to be used by programmers, it’s barely a surprise that wiki software was widely praised and adopted by the open source software community. They see wiki software as a tool through which they can present their most valuable content to other users.
If you visit any website that includes an open source project, it is likely that you will find installation guides, user manuals, FAQs, and other forms of instructional content. A lot of companies use wiki software to provide human resource content, user manuals, forms, policies, and other documents to their staff members. This information is stored and gathered in one location, which can be accessed by employees or customers when needed.
Companies having corporate wikis can ensure employee compliance on their policies and laws by offering easy-to-read information that is always available online. This has removed the need for printing and handing out hard copies to each employee individually.
Also, important documents containing information of the company’s regulations and norms can be easily edited and updated so that no inaccurate information is spread or compromised.
The whole concept of wiki software is designed so that the content can be created and shared in a collaborative environment. Even though the software has been implemented for various reasons over the years, the number one reason why enterprises use wiki software is because of its collaboration features.
A wiki is ideal for communicating and collaborating since it’s easy to use and requires no technical skills, while offering real-time editing capabilities and a centralized location where all the information is stored.
Users with no technical skills can handle wikis quite easily because there is nothing new to learn about the software. What do I mean? When users want to read a wiki article, edit it or write a new article, they can do it using any browser or device.
Another amazing feature is real-time editing, which makes it really easy to keep all documents and records up-to-date.
With wiki software you can also track who is discussing or editing a certain piece of content. This means that you can not only access documents in real time but also manage them in the same way. Furthermore, all of the recent edits are visible in revision history and users can be easily notified of any updates.
Most companies manage internal communication through emails. But emails can be hectic and confusing as they are not stored in a single place. With a wiki software solution all of your emails can be stored on one server and employees can easily update each other on any project they are currently working on.
Easier Content Management
Content management systems (CMS) are usually used for collaboration and they allow users to view, upload and spread content to other members of an enterprise by uploading it to a website or a centralized server.
It may seem that CMS and wikis are similar but there are fundamental differences in what they provide.
Collaboration is easier in a wiki software as changes can be tracked by revision history and multiple groups of users can quickly and easily manage content, unlike in content management systems, which restrict collaboration rights to a few people.
Cross-referencing different information is also where wikis stand out. Users can cross-link articles to allow other users navigate easily to any related content. Creating anchors in a CMS is easy for someone who is skilled in HTML but with wiki software anyone can easily cross-link relevant information using a WYSIWYG editor.
Such content creation and management features have cut a lot of costs and time for companies, otherwise wasted in training their employees in using the bulky CMS.
To sum it up, wiki software is an effective tool any company can use to improve and enhance the communication between its employees. There are also a lot of different versions available out there, from open source to SaaS wikis, and finding the one that suits your organization best is easy.
The fact that some of the best wiki software are free makes them even more appealing. A company can save money without limiting itself in any way. If you’ve had experiences with wiki software feel free to share your opinions in the comments below or add the different ways in how you used it to improve your business.