There is a difference between an enterprise or internally facing wiki (inside a firewall) and an Internet-based or external wiki (outside a firewall). While the platform can remain the same and the basic goal of collaboration is the same, the application and the types of data collected and maintained on these systems will differ. Enterprise wikis contain team and project information such as team members, calendars, project statuses, inventories, and processes. Enterprise wikis also contain large amounts of information geared toward a limited or closed set of people. An Internet-based wiki provides information about an organization’s goods or services to a much larger user base. Internet wikis serve more as an information sharing, education, and marketing tool and less in a project management and process documentation capacity than an Enterprise wiki.
Because there are some differences in these two types of wikis, there are also a number of other items that must be considered when building an Internet wiki versus an enterprise wiki. The main factors you will want to address in an Internet wiki will be the following:
- Ease of use
- Speed (response time)
- Content Moderation
- Skins (look and feel)
While the above features are important in all wiki systems, a number of items take priority in an enterprise system such as:
- Integration (mash-ups)
- Email integration
- RSS feeds
- Content change notification
- Job function application
- APIs (Application Programming Interface)
Since most people will use the Internet-based wiki as a repository for viewing and collecting information on products and services, we will see several differences between the Internet-based and Enterprise wikis. The user base will most likely have about a 1-2% user contribution rate, where as an enterprise wiki could have an 80-90% contribution rate (80-90% of the users contribute at least once). So with an Internet wiki the more user traffic generated the higher quality information it will yield. This isn’t necessarily the case with an enterprise wiki where the quality of information will largely be a result of understanding peer review, benefits of adoption, and education.
With an Internet-based wiki you will want to focus on the skins to make sure they adhere to your organizations branding standards. Internet wikis have the potential for explosive growth as well as vandalism concerns, which are much less of a concern in an enterprise wiki. If an enterprise wiki has scalability or navigation issues you can tell the user base, “Changes are on their way.” On an Internet based wiki system your users simply don’t come back if they find the site aesthetically unappealing, unreliable, or unresponsive. Therefore, you want your Internet wiki to have a very professional and appealing look and feel so that regardless of the content it is well presented. This will make visitors less hesitant to contribute to your company’s public collaboration space. You will also want to have a process for moderating content. Removing inappropriate or unseemly content will be important in maintaining an environment that appeals to the greatest number of contributors and promotes participation.
Enterprise wikis are slightly different. Factors that contribute to the greatest adoption and collaboration are education, perceived benefit to employees, and a clear contribution strategy. People are often willing to contribute but are unaware of where information needs to be placed. Having a pre-defined information architecture, a method for easy navigation, and educating users about the information architecture will greatly drive adoption.
Because enterprise wikis are used in a much wider capacity than an Internet based wiki, they need to be more flexible. For any organization, an enterprise wiki might be used to keep track of customers, part numbers, manufacturers, suppliers, shipping, operations, training, and other functions required by the organization. Through the use of plug-ins, we can target specific areas where capabilities can be expanded. Different wiki technologies refer to plug-ins as extensions, modules or adaptors.
Since on an Internet wiki your main concerns are speed, reliability, and security you will not want to just start adding plug-ins without careful consideration. Each plug-in expands the command options or feature set; therefore, the code will be processed before a page can be displayed. With more plug-ins, more code must be processed per-page adding vast amounts of unnecessary data. This will not only slow down the response to the user but also raises new security concerns.
WiiKno’s expert team can help you find the system that is right for your organization. We will help you achieve in a platform that will deliver fast, reliable results to your user community regardless of their geographic location.