Enterprise Microsharing vs. Wikis?

by Gil Yehuda on June 17, 2009

in Enterprise 2.0

Last week I posted a thought on why Wikis should be a standard tool in every enterprise.  Many people seemed to agree with my thoughts.  However one commenter challenged this idea with the suggestion that smaller organizations do not need to support content creation nearly as much as they need to support conversations.  He said…

I think wikis are great for large companies. SME need something to benefit from content and knowledge formalized by people outside of the company. By people on the Internet. Microsharing – Social bookmarking and micro-blogging – are a better fit I think…

As it turns out, the commenter, Sébastien, is the business development director for a France-based employee social-networking company, YooLink Pro.  I say this so that you understand the perspective he is bringing, and I welcome it.  YooLink Pro is a very interesting tool that addresses the microsharing space.  So it’s perfectly valid for him to comment as he did.  But I’d like to ask you to comment too.

Sébastien raises an interesting question that I wanted to pose to you in the following form: In what way do you see microsharing and wikis as competitive or complimentary technologies?

Let me frame this question a bit using very polemic terms. There are at least four ways of seeing this:

  • Exclusive choice. A company either needs one or the other.  If content creation is the greater need, find a wiki.  If bookmark and status sharing is the greater need, then find a micrsharing tool.
  • Orthogonal needs. A company may need both a wiki and a microsharing tool.  They address orthogonal needs and are largely unrelated.
  • Integrated platform. A company will need to address both needs, and therefore the most effective way to do so is with a wiki that provides activity feed alerts or a social network platform that provides a wiki.
  • Feed sharing between vendor platforms. A company will need to address both needs, and a flexible way to do so is with a wiki platform that can integrate with an activity feed network or and activity feed network that can integrate with a wiki.

First question:  are these the four possible conclusions?  I got the sense that Sébastien was suggesting the first option.  I wanted to offer more.  Are there more?

Second question: which do you think make the most sense?

Request:  Please indicate whether you are representing a vendor’s perspective or you are someone who is in the market to purchase a product.  This makes a big difference.  I appreciate you being forthcoming about your comments.

Thanks!

{ 15 comments… read them below or add one }

1 Luis de la Hoz July 6, 2009 at 2:16 pm

Microblogging vs wikis at E2.0 http://bit.ly/T9pj4 #yam #E2.0

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2 Sébastien June 19, 2009 at 4:51 am

Hello,
And sorry for taking so long to post an answer. I’ve been quite busy attending fairs and preparing Enterprise 2.0 in Boston.

So first I’m really happy that other vendors in this space are advocating different approaches. Otherwise we would all have exactly the same products ^^

Yet I’d like to point out that I am not against wikis at all. We even have a wiki at Yoolink, which we use as a technical collaborative tool. I know some great Wiki providers who have both a vision and a great product – here in France or in the US. So my point was not whether wikis are useful or not in an SME. If I had to give my personal ideal opinion it would be #4 that implies that both services can benefit from one another.

So what was my point? And where did it come from?

In the recent months we met many, many, many people. Potential customers (our typical customer is a 20-30 people digital agency or consulting company), people using other 2.0 services, frustrated employees, SME CEO, 2.0 sceptical people, etc. Back at our office, when we tried to make the difference between signal and noise we kept the following things:

- Employees in general – and of course there are always a couple of hard-core users in each company that are exceptions – don’t have much time for social software. The key to adoption is to be efficient and easily understandable. If users have the feeling you’re wasting their time, you’re dead.
- Therefore most executives don’t want to pile up services. They want to pick A solution that’s going to answer their problem on a particular field. The question “How” does not really matter for them, only the question “What” matters for them. They have to focus on their Business-as-usual the rest is only details.
- Social services add up to the normal IT infrastructure so it can’t be too expensive.

For most SME – and by SME I mean less than 50 people in the company in our case – wikis or micro-sharing are alternatives to a single question: “How do I make people share information and knowledge to drive up productivity”. It may not be the way we, people from the industry, see it, but I believe it is the way some potential users do.

I don’t think they can afford – time wise and price wise – to adopt both. The training cost and maintaining-cost would be way to high for the benefit they would get.

I met customers on many occasions that had troubles maintaining a wiki. They were all working in the same room, exchanged a couple of .doc best practices when it was needed, but did not have the urge (need) to have something more solid to fix internal knowledge. Yet they needed something to share, discuss and capitalize on all the scripts/market studies/articles they were finding on-line.

That’s why I said that I think micro-sharing is probably a better fit for such companies – because of those constraints. Micro-sharing is about bringing back to your team some information and knowledge you found on the Internet – and we all know there are plenty. Micro-sharing helps companies to adapt to a business world that has changed. A Business world where Internet is the first knowledge base of most companies.

I hope I made my point a little clearer: I personally love wiki and I am strongly convinced that as Michael said “hundreds of companies, large and small, derive tremendous value from wikis”. But for SME that mostly can’t afford several solutions time-wise and money-wise, micro-sharing would probably bring more for less investment…

It is of course an open debate and there are as many answers as customers. Yet I thought it was worth sharing our views and experience on the topic!

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3 Gil Yehuda June 18, 2009 at 1:16 pm

Sébastien
It appears that the respondents here are representing other vendors in this space, and are advocating a very different approach than you have suggested. I’ll admit that I was also not swayed by your suggestion (that Wikis are for large companies and microsharing is for small and medium companies). Maybe you can articulate your argument in more details so that we can see the merit of your position. Share with us the link to a blog post if you decide to write one. I’m always interested to learn other perspectives, but you have to be much more convincing.

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4 Lawrence Liu June 17, 2009 at 5:03 pm

Enterprise Microsharing vs Wikis http://bit.ly/WgRSN (by @gyehuda) [2 diff modalities: transient vs stationary. Need both -best integrated!]

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5 Kiran Patchigolla June 17, 2009 at 6:46 pm

Integrated platforms are really the way to go. Content creation and conversations go hand in hand. The problem with larger enterprises is more to do with too many wikis and too many ways to micro-share and not enough integrated approaches.

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6 Gil Yehuda June 17, 2009 at 4:31 pm

Hmm, I was hoping to see more of an active debate with client input here http://bit.ly/WgRSN Was the question too easy?

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7 Lee Bryant June 17, 2009 at 4:02 pm

RT @Ross: It ain’t a "vs." @gyehuda, RT @michaelido: Just commented on Enterprise Microsharing vs. Wikis? http://bit.ly/WgRSN

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8 Ross June 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm

It ain’t a “vs.” @gyehuda, RT @michaelido: Just commented on Enterprise Microsharing vs. Wikis? http://bit.ly/WgRSN.

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9 Ross June 17, 2009 at 3:53 pm

It ain’t a “vs.” @gyehuda, RT @michaelido: Just commented on Enterprise Microsharing vs. Wikis? http://bit.ly/WgRSN.

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10 Paul Papadimitriou June 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm

RT @gyehuda: New Blog post: do wikis compete with microsharing platforms? http://bit.ly/T9pj4

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11 Michael Idinopulos June 17, 2009 at 3:49 pm

Just commented on Enterprise Microsharing vs. Wikis? http://bit.ly/WgRSN. Awaiting moderation.

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12 deb lavoy June 17, 2009 at 4:22 pm

and sometimes i create wikis just for myself. no big company at all. they are a great way to organize disparate information in a way that they are reliably accessible for a variety of people.

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13 deb lavoy June 17, 2009 at 4:03 pm

social media and collaboration are not one activity but a cluster of them. to wit:
- creative collaboration – this is where teams of people are working toward a specific goal. they need to share and organize information, communicate fluidly, track progress, brainstorm and similar activities. Wikis are one of several tools needed for this type of collaboration.

- connective – this is where you find relevant information, activity or expertise within the organization, but outside your day to day environment or team. Microsharing is a superb tool for this.

- compounding – this is where you’re leveraging existing work (research, documents, bookmarks, wikis, whatever) to train, learn, repurpose, or build upon in some way. Both microsharing and wikis have value here.

But importantly, a deeply connected, agile and collaborative workplace is more a function of culture than the technology.
this is perhaps too much for a comment, but i discuss more here: http://www.slideshare.net/dllavoy/social-workplace-for-govt-20

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14 Michael Idinopulos June 17, 2009 at 10:47 am

I strongly believe that Integrated Platform (your option #3) is the way to go. Wikis are great for codifying knowledge, publishing documentation, managing projects, keeping documents, and recording converssations. Microblogging is great for bouncing ideas, organizing near-real-time on joint activities, pointing out interesting but perhaps irrelevant information, asking random, needle-in-a-haystack questions that aren’t likely to be repeated.

Every organization has both sets of needs, regardless of size. By integrating the two capabilities, companies get the best of both worlds: the ability to collaborate on enduring artifacts and talk about them at the same time.

I suspect Sebastien’s “wikis are just for big companies” view is driven by a perception that wikis in organizations are just “internal Wikipedia.” That’s a myth that both Stuart Mader and I have tried to debunk. I’ve personally worked with hundreds of companies, large and small, that derive tremendous value from wikis. See http://www.ikiw.org/?s=your+wiki+isn%27t+wikipedia and http://michaeli.typepad.com/my_weblog/2007/12/in-the-flow-and.html

(Full disclosure: I, too, have my biases. My company, Socialtext, provides an integrated Enterprise 2.0 product that integrates wikis, microblogging, blogging, social networking, and personal dashboards)

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15 Gil Yehuda June 17, 2009 at 3:18 pm

New Blog post: do wikis compete with microsharing platforms? http://bit.ly/T9pj4

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