Blogs & Wikis: Technologies for Enterprise Applications?

Blogs and wikis are flexible practices and technologies that are increasingly being used within companies and organizations to ease the creation and dissemination of information, as well as making it easier for companies to communicate effectively with customers, partners, and the public. Here’s an excellent new article by Vancouver’s own Lauren Wood on the role of blogs and wikis in the corporation. It’s available in standard HTML, or as a PDF… handy for sending to all your marketing manager friends. It’s cool to read that Tim Bray’s ‘blogs as listening devices’ idea’from Northern Voice continues to make it’s way around too.

It would be difficult to find anyone who spends time on the Internet, or indeed who reads newspapers, who has not heard of blogs. Wikis are less well known, though Wikipedia, the free online collaborative encyclopedia is helping to change that. The vast majority of blogs are individual personal journals, many of which have some technical content, but most of which are made up of individual opinions about politics or hobbies. Most of the discussion about blogs is centered around their affect on mainstream journalism, their power as a new communication channel and voice of the people, and how this will impact society. All this is interesting, but what does it have to do with implementing content or knowledge management, or enterprise collaboration applications? IT, business managers, and even analysts can be forgiven for thinking “not much”. In fact, we have been skeptical ourselves.

But, being dismissive of blogs and wikis because of how they are most often used, and talked about, today is a mistake (PCs and web browsers weren’t considered as serious enterprise tools at first either). What is important is how they could be used. They are simply tools, and many of you will be surprised to find how much they are already being utilized in business environments. For this issue, Contributor Lauren Wood provides a straightforward explanation of what they are, describes how they compare with content management systems, and reports on some telling examples of how blogs and wikis are currently being successfully used in enterprises.