Collaborative Wikis: Use, Advantages and Challenges

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  • 0:02 Wikis for Business Reports
  • 1:00 Advantages of Wikis
  • 2:42 Disadvantages of Wikis
  • 3:36 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Jennifer Lombardo
Collaborative work is an essential part of the business working environment. In this lesson, you will learn the uses, advantages and challenges of wikis in the workplace.

Wikis for Business Reports

Most people are familiar with Wikipedia, which is an online encyclopedia that has an encyclopedia entry for every topic imaginable.

A wiki in the business world is a text-oriented website that is hosted on an intranet within a company that allows all employees to add, remove, edit, upload and share content. The ease of using a wiki makes it the prime option for mass collaboration within the workplace. Businesses can create their own private wiki and share it with their employees, customers or vendors.

This lesson will educate you on the advantages and disadvantages of using a wiki to create business reports. Let's look at an example involving Smartly Motorcycles. Smartly Motorcycles' engineering team has offices located across the U.S. and Hong Kong. The team has been tasked with completing a report on their new motorcycle design by Monday. The team has decided to build the report over the weekend via a wiki.

Advantages of Wikis

Wikis are great to set up an intranet easily within the company. There are two ways to establish an intranet via a wiki. A company can choose to create their own wiki, which takes substantial technology expertise, or utilize a wiki farm. A wiki farm is a server that supplies the tools needed to set up an intranet within a company easily.

A main advantage of a wiki is that it provides the ability to collaborate asynchronously, or without any time constraints. Team members working on a report can log in and work whenever they are able. For example, Smartly's engineering team has members located across numerous time zones. The wiki allows each member to write, collaborate and edit the report when they have time available.

Wikis also allow companies to publish and share documents easily. The main engineering team needs to update certain regional engineering offices on technical changes to the design of the bike before the report can be started. The information is easily posted and shared so that all of the members are on the same page.

Another advantage to using a wiki for report writing is that it tracks the history of all changes to the report and every change is updated automatically with all edits stored as backups. This is extremely helpful in case there are errors made to the document and old revisions need to be reinstated. For example, one member of the engineering team in California did not realize that the bike design had been changed to reflect less chrome. She entered the specs for the report with incorrect design information. Once another manager realized the error, it was easily fixed.

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