Wikis are spreading behind the firewall. Here is one example. Novell uses wikis in a variety of ways, both within teams and across their enterprise. At the team level, they have become an important and integral part of software development. The open nature of wikis, coupled with their security behind the firewall, has led to using wikis in the many development phases that involve collaboration such as requirements generation, documentation, and bug fixes. In a cent conversation, Ray Sims, Principal, Global Knowledge & Learning, told me that, “many development teams now cannot imagine doing their work without wikis since the wiki’s accessibility provides significant productivity improvements over traditional methods such as email and siloed desktop applications.” To support wiki use within the enterprise, Novell has incorporated them into the single sign on authentication within their intranet. They have also integrated wiki content into enterprise search engines.
At the enterprise level Novell has found a variety of uses. For example, the sharing of ideas, articles, and commentary about specific ideas is now greatly facilitated through wikis, Ray Sims told us that now when he sees an article on a topic that is relevant to individuals within the enterprise, he can simply place a link to it with his comments to a wiki page that is accessible to everyone and have it available to enterprise searches. He finds this much more efficient than sending the link to an email list serve or mentioning it on a forum. Those who are interested in the topic can mark the page on their watch list and receive a notification when edits have been made. Then when they go to the page they also get the context for the link and all previous information on the topic in one place. This avoids the need to assemble threads to make sense of the material and understand the complete discussion. It also gives individuals the ability to select what topics they are notified on and the opportunity to engage in a dialog around the issues in an efficient manner in a common space. This common space also reduces redundancy in research efforts and makes the results available to all.
Novell now uses wikis as a standard means to facilitate event planning and management. When there is a company event, a wiki page is generally set up to support it. Attendees can share information on travel logistics to coordinate flights, car rentals, hotels, etc, in a manner far more efficient than the need to have administrative support people send out multiple emails to all attendees. In addition, the agendas can be refined and the substantive conversations started prior to the actual meeting, making the face to face time much more productive. The wiki then provides a common space to continue the conversation after the meeting. Ray says that people cannot imagine going back to the older, pre-wiki days for event coordination.
I think, in some ways. wikis are even more effective behind the enterprise firewall as security is much less an issue and generally the trusted environment where wikis work best is in place.