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Sunday, August 19, 2007

Are You Ready to Wiki?

Many organizations in Canada are starting to investigate if it makes sense to set up a WIKI for their employees. Nowadays, with so many people working remotely from different regions of the country, or different countries around the world, establishing a WIKI is a great way to facilitate collaboration and discussion, regardless of where people are located.

Take the Wiki Wiki?
“WikiWikiWeb” was the first site to be called a wiki by Ward Cunningham, a U.S. computer programmer who invented the concept in 1994. It began when a counter employee at the Hawaii International airport told him to take the "Wiki Wiki" shuttle that runs between the airport's terminals. A Hawaiian – language word meaning fast or quick, "wiki wiki" is useful to know at any airport come to think of it.

What is a WIKI?
Simply put, a wiki is a database used for creating, browsing and searching web pages. A wiki enables documents to be written collaboratively, in a simple language using your web browser. A defining characteristic of the technology is the ease with which pages can be created, updated and linked to other content areas in an organization. Today, Wikipedia, is arguably the most well known online wiki, used by millions of people around the world.

Doing it WIKI-style!

Any project that requires collaboration or input from more than one person in an organization is a WIKI candidate. For example, a national sales director based in Toronto wants to build a resource of winning selling techniques to share with the Chicago office.

He kicks off the project by creating a WIKI page on the company intranet site. Together with a his team, they write about proven tools, methods and techniques to close deals for a particular product or selling cycle. They also include a section on handling customer objections plus links to internal resources, competitive documents and sales visuals.

In short order, the sales director and his team have built a centralized resource of best practices that can be added to and updated easily and quickly. Plus it’s a great training resource for new employees.

What about Security?
With any collaborative tool, there are safeguards you can follow to ensure only high value information is included. To manage security or check for inappropriate content, companies assign folder managers who review incoming files before they go live. However a WIKI can be set up to include comments in real-time and appear almost instantaneously online.

The possibilities are impressive - a Vancouver based software company collaborates with their technology partner in India and builds a WIKI of product specifications and local market user testing feedback. Or a Toronto advertising agency sets up a wiki for the retail detail team to log store check reports and competitor activity by market.

Walk before you Wiki.
Setting up a wiki is surprisingly straightforward and doesn’t require large technology investments, expensive software or long lead times. For an excellent overview, read WIKINOMICS, by Don Tapscott and Anthony D. Williams. You can download the software for FREE at

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