Improving employee collaboration with workplace wikis

| September 19, 2010 | Comments

The importance of knowledge management for organisations has become increasingly important with globalisation and the displacement of teams.  An enterprise or corporate wiki offer significant advantages over centrally managed content management systems for the communication, documentation and collaboration of collectively considered pertinent knowledge for an organisation.

In contrast to a corporate blog that supports individual authoring of content, a corporate wiki enables group authorship for content.  Group authorship leads to the iterative improvement of the wiki document, resulting in convergent, high quality content. The video below illustrates the dynamics of using a wiki.

Benefits of a Wiki Applications

Wikis provide significant benefits for knowledge management and collaboration within an enterprise.   Specifically, wikis replace email as the predominant collaboration tool that is a control and compliance nightmare to manage.  Some of these benefits are identified as being:

  1. Improved Efficiency: The content is only published once, then iteratively improved or updated by multiple authors.   The task of writing and updating documents is truly shared rather than dependant upon one individual.
  2. Captures Knowledge: Individual and group intelligence is captured and stored in visible area.  This reduces the common activity of ‘reinventing the wheel‘ in corporate environments, leading to innovation and stimulating creative thinking.  Further, it prevents the loss of knowledge if an employee leaves the company.
  3. Revision Control: Wikis include histories so that corrections and revisions can be easily tracked back to the creator or modifier.
  4. Ease of Integration: Wikis can easily be integrated into part of an employees work process to facilitate knowledge sharing.
  5. Information Dissemination: Wikis allow knowledge to be disseminated to various domains across time, distance and organisation.    The system is also dynamic and quickly adaptable the changing needs.
  6. Community Ownership: Group authoring encourages community ownership of information rather than information being owned by an individual.

Case Studies


IntelliPedia is a series of three private wikis used for collaborative data sharing by the United States Intelligence Community.   The wikis were implemented in an effort to change workplace practices of information sharing in the U.S. Intelligence community following accusations of the community failing to proactively identify warning signs prior to the September 11 attacks in 2001.

Each wiki is separated into Top Secret, Secret and Sensitive But Unclassified information and individuals with appropropriate information clearances from 16 different agencies access the wikis to collaborate on intelligence data.   Overall, Intellipedia hosts close to one million pages, edited by over 100,000 users making up to 5,000 updates per day.

Intellipedia has successfully reaped the benefits of using workplace wikis for improved efficiency, knowledge capture, community ownership and information dissemination.

Intellipedia has assisted intelligence experts to pool their knowledge, form virtual teams across different agencies and make quick assessments.   The focus is on harmonizing various points of view of the analysts and agencies within the Intelligence Community with the goal of reaching a concensus view amongst all intelligence contributors.  The system has been described by Thomas Fingar as “The Wikipedia on a classified network, with one very important difference: it’s not anonymous. We want people to establish a reputation. If you’re really good, we want people to know you’re good. If you’re making contributions, we want that known. If you’re an idiot, we want that known too”.

Initially, Intellipedia was greeted by the Intelligence Community with a lot of resistance because it conflicted with the past practices of limiting pools of information to small groups or agencies in an effort to minimise risk.    As a result, some encouragement was required in the form of reward and recognition programs for contributions and collaborative success between agencies.   Overall the system has been found to be easily adopted by the new generation of intelligence analysts who are familiar with socially interacting online with Web 2.0 technologies.

:: Related Links ::

Workplace Blogs for Employee Engagement.

Web 2.0 & Enterprise 2.0 :: Differences & Common Themes

Creating a better Intranet with Slates

Power in Numbers

Stop repeating yourself – set up a Workplace Wiki

The Wiki Workplace

Keep your eyes on the Enterprise.  Email, Wikis, Blogs & Corporate Risk

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Category: Intranets

About the Author ()

Teale Shapcott is a multidisciplinary User Experience expert passionate about making websites, software and intranets easy to use and engaging for people. Teale’s career has spanned 16 years of design experience moving from graphic / web design to user interface design to designing processes and customer experience for corporate intranets. Teale enjoys weaving together different disciplines and perspectives together to solve complex design problems. When she isn’t busy designing great experiences, Teale can be found, camera in hand, looking for beauty, inspiration and fresh perspectives.


  1. […] 19/09/2010 | 0 CommentsWorkplace Wikis for employee collaboration. […]

  2. Wikis are a great tool. I have often thought about setting one up but was always unsure which was the best to setup? Which open source wiki do you recommend?

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  5. Teale says:

    Thank you Aaron! Subscribe to the rss feed (orange button) on the left hand side to receive updates when I post new articles.

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    Thank you Aaron! You have some nice websites there too! :)