Wiki Engines Begin to Drive Small Business

Collaborative wiki technology is making its way into the small and medium-sized business, offering SMBs (small and medium-sized businesses) a way to foster collaboration among employees and interaction with the public.

One company, Des-Moines, Iowa-based CustomerVision, on Aug. 17 released RapidWiki, which is designed to get SMBs up and running with dynamic Web sites that look and feel more like forums than brochures.

“It’s time to go beyond static Web sites,” said Cindy Rockwell, CustomerVision’s president and CEO.

RapidWiki for SMBs

“Database driven sites like CustomerVision create an affordable and dynamic way for users to keep content current and relevant to their users,” she told LinuxInsider. “A simple user can update the site,” she said.

CustomerVision is promoting RapidWiki as allowing the SMB to enjoy sophisticated customer/internal team information-sharing and collaboration tools using only a Web browser as a starting point.

The RapidWiki offering is a hosted service, at $100 a month. RapidWiki’s widgets customize the customer’s site to fit special business needs. The business user gets control over updating, removing or entering fresh content.

Percolating Perks

Among RapidWiki’s special features is an “Ask the Expert” and discussion forums. This is where group-think and group-percolate rule. Users can submit questions that are routed to an expert.

Answers are private, but can also be published as new pages. Discussion forums can be moderated or not, threaded or unthreaded.

Wikis enable multiple people to work together on a single piece of Web content; participants can make edits, and all other users can see the edits and make additional changes.

Wikis at Work

Wait a minute. Isn’t that where words like “sage” have been changed to “fool?” Aren’t wikis seedbeds for mischief-makers? Will businesses really want to implement wiki-type sites?

They already have, according to Forrester Research analyst Erica Driver. Businesses from 200 employees to top companies on the Fortune 500 are experimenting with basic wiki functionality or applications based on wiki engines.

Early adopters use wikis internally and with customers and partners to capture the output of people working collectively toward something goal-specific, said Driver, author of a report titled, “Wikis Change the Meaning of Groupthink.”

Suite Moves

Wiki technology adoption is going to accelerate fast this year and next, but Driver said not as a technology standalone.

“Wiki technology is already beginning to function as the basis of basic business applications and is being absorbed into enterprise content management (ECM) suites and enterprise collaboration platforms,” she added.

However, there is a time and a place for wikis. In other words, there are times and places that are inappropriate for wikis.

They are not suitable for any work that needs vigorous precision and auditing, such as documenting financial controls and operating procedures, technical publications and customer correspondence, Driver noted.

As for security issues surrounding wikis, Rockwell told LinuxInsider that “security and administration are one of CustomerVision’s greatest strengths.” RapidWiki offers both group and individual levels of security, she added.

Leave a Comment

Please sign in to post or reply to a comment. New users create a free account.

LinuxInsider Channels