Wednesday, 30 March 2011

How Wiki Technology Supports Business Collaboration

My Individual Assignment
For Information Technology Management (MIS 750)


All of us must be familiar with the use of Wikipedia, a free web-based, collaborative and multilingual encyclopedia project that supported by Wikipedia Foundation. It has gathered more than 18 million articles contributed by volunteers around the world and not only that, the article can be edited by anybody with access to the site. It is one on the most popular reference work on the internet with 365 million readers. Me myself am one of the loyal users of Wikipedia in seeking some useful information that can be used for completing my assignments.

Discussing on Wiki technology, it is a piece of server software that allow users freely to create and edit Web page content using any Web browser. It is supported with the hyperlinks and has a simple mechanism for creating new pages and crosslinks between internal pages on the Internet. Individuals and organizations are allowed to contribute any web page and be edited and vetted by everyone that is encouraging the democratic use of the Web.

With the global economy tightening as never before, collaboration between businesses is absolutely vital to business growth as well as profitability. Business organization nowadays must taking into consideration the effects of IT in making business more successful. For small business, IT will help to create a competitive marketplace whereby a small companies have the opportunity to grow as much as larger companies, creating web-sites that give the opportunities for the companies to market and advertise their products and services, easily let the larger scales of customers to get the information about the business with the 24 hours availability of the business transactions and activities.

Technological has increased communications around the globe, today’s world is smaller than ever. The need to constantly grow, change and innovate in today’s business landscape requires a new approach to connect, communicate and collaborate, inside and outside the business, to accelerate revenues and reduce costs. Companies everywhere rely on positive and consistent interactions with customers, partners and suppliers.

The growing developments of the web (such as Web 2.0) are enabling new forms and mechanisms of business collaboration. Collaboration is becoming the basis of successful organizations that support sharing and co-production through leveraging dispersed resources and capabilities (Hansen & Nohria, 2004). Collaboration and user contributions can add value and empower innovation using architecture of participation to build a commanding advantage because of the richness of shared data (O’reilly, 2005b).

Web 2.0 provides a set of tools such as Wikis, Blogs, peer-to-peer downloading that enable new ways of collaboration, transaction, and participation. These collaborative technologies allow people to establish self-organized and social communities where they can collaboratively and openly develop and produce goods and services that compete with the world’s largest and best self-financed enterprises (Tapscott & Williams, 2006)

In this term paper, our focus is to narrow down from the IT roles in business succession to the Wiki technology functions in supporting business collaboration. I have divided it into few chapters. From one chapter to another chapter, the readers can easily understand what is Wiki technology all about, the pros and cons of Wiki technology, issues related to it and how it can support the business collaboration.

A business collaboration tools such as Wiki enables companies and their customers, partners and suppliers to connect, communicate and collaborate in a productive, secure and effective manner, driving positive business results for all involved. Business collaboration is vital to the success of businesses large and small, because, in today’s environment, no company is successful alone.


The first wiki (WikiWikiweb) was created in 1995 by Ward Cunningham for the purpose of collaboratively document and edit software design patterns. The word Wiki means “Quick” in Hawaiian (Reinhart, 2005). A wiki is a simple website that enables users to create, edit, tag, and link content in a collaborative manner. The basic idea behind the wiki concept is that anyone who can view the page can also contribute to knowledge construction through creating, editing, and remixing pages in few clicks.

According to Wikipedia, Wiki is a website that allows the creation and editing of any number of interlinked web pages via a web browser using a simplified markup language or a specific text editor. It is powered by wiki software and are often used to create collaborative works. Examples include community websites, corporate intranets, knowledge management systems, and note services. Wiki software is a type of collaborative software (is computer software designed to help people involved in a common task achieve their goals) that runs a wiki system, allowing web pages to be created and edited using a common web browser. It is usually implemented as an application server that runs on one or more web servers (referred to as either the hardware or the software that helps to deliver content that can be accessed through the Internet). The content is stored in a file system, and changes to the content are stored in a relational database management system. In a simple definition, a Wiki is a text based tool which allows edit to a single document by any number of parties. However, in this paper, we will not describe the detail technology of Wiki due its complexity and need to be deeply explored.

Wikis that are part of the Web 2.0 technologies may help organizations to manage and share information in a collaborative fashion through connecting people together. In this sense, Tim O’Reilly (2005a) defined the new Web or Web 2.0 as follows: “the network as platform, spanning all connected devices; Web 2.0 applications are those that make the most of the intrinsic advantages of that platform: delivering software as a continually-updated service that gets better the more people use it, consuming and remixing data from multiple sources, including individual users, while providing their own data and services in a form that allows remixing by others, creating network effects through an "architecture of participation,"

Web allows people to collaboratively participate in content creation through blogging, mashups (consuming and remixing data), and tagging (Grossman & McCarthy, 2007). Also, software becomes a service (SaaS) in the sense that it is used by people as needed and it gets better with more active participants using it (De la Torr, 2005). Moreover, organizations can benefit from the intelligence of groups or the wisdom of crowds as many researchers describe it by adopting new mechanisms of collaboration (Hideo & Shinchi, 2007).

Although wikis are means for collaboration they are also a product of collaboration in the sense that what makes a wiki is the informal, unstructured collaboration between participants who create, edit, and share knowledge (Dearstyne, 2007)

Collaboration allows connected individuals to build self-organized communities and vibrant ecosystems that create value more efficiently than hierarchal businesses. In this sense, the Wiki workplace that is one of several models of mass collaboration can enable organizations to peer produce products and services and also to tie together the skills and intelligence of employees more efficiently (Tapscott & Williams, 2006).


In this chapter, we are going to analyze some of the information retrieved through some of the reading materials on how wiki is supporting business collaboration and describe the important issues pertaining to the use of Wiki technology. A wiki site if we have a look at it just same as the normal website that we browse in the internet. However, wiki has an edit link of every page of the topics. Wiki technology has provided many solutions in information collection and presentation such as replacing traditional webs, update content at a real time, helping organization and individu to collaborate on projects and documentations, and develop new design and demonstrate new web-based applications that will enhance the quality and quantity of the information by letting everybody to share what they know.

However, some of the organizations are in doubt of wiki’s ability in supporting their businesses. Some of the business organizations are fully depending on the intranet in doing their business and worry of using Wiki as a new tool to improve their business performance. For the company that using intranets, some of the difficulties they are facing are problems for their employees to search for the information and how quick the employees can modify the data. Some of the processes in the intranet is more complicated than Wiki the create inefficient of employees in performing their jobs. Wiki on the other hand allows professional, systematic and uncomplicated knowledge and information management. The company that used Wiki technology as a medium of communication allows employees to communicate actively and efficiently regarding the job issues on that day.

A business wiki is not similar to wikipedia. Some of us still substituting and similarizing the business or corporate wiki with the wikipedia. As we know, wikipedia is meant for the public use and all of its content is available for everyone to pursue. However, in business wiki, it can be divided and organized into few areas such as according to the projects, teams and divisions, customers and others that will allow only specified users to access the content information. Business Wiki requires intranet as a based and Wikipedia on the other hand requires web-sites that can be access by everyone. Business wiki focus more on the daily job and task of the employees and it is more organically, faster for employees’ communication and building the core of team’s activities.

The business wiki is one of the most important tool. It transforms the nature of communication within company and creates a synergy of communication flows from bottom to the top. It is a simple collaborative tool that helps the company to distribute information to a large scale of readers (employees). Wiki helps the organization to communicate and disseminate the information at workplace across the globe. It can help all of the employees around the world keep inform and provide a method for team members in different locations and place to work together seamlessly and able to share the information on a particular project easily.

The main product in Wiki business is the business activities sharing information. By putting together the collective knowledge of a relatively random group of individuals such as employees, a variety of views of information can be amassed. Wiki provides a place for these people to find and meet one another through cyber communication. However, Wiki still needs a group of professional designers to design the Wiki system in an organization. Professional design ensures that the surface of the company wiki is visually well structured and thereby easily understandable. This guarantees goal-oriented, efficient and simple usage of the application (usability) and reduces the employees’ reserve. Furthermore, good design mirrors the level of importance that the wiki itself has for a company. A wiki clothed in the corporate design of the company increases the identification of the employees with this system. It is perceived as a fixed and important component of the internal communication within organization and it is accepted more quickly. What is more, if the surface of the wiki is designed in a visually appealing way, the employees will be more likely to enjoy using the wiki, raising its ease of use.

3.1       Wiki Supports the Business Collaboration

            3.1.1    Sharing Information and Making Concrete Decision
In the traditional models of business, most of the companies used to lock down their data and information of the business trade secrets for themselves and have a tight control over the products and services. Now they have came to the point that by giving out access to their information through the intranet or internet and knowledge to individuals and by relying on the collective intelligence of groups of informed people they can reduce their costs to an acceptable level and at the same time gain better products and services. This process is called “crowdsourcing”.

“Crowdsourcing is a business model that turns over tasks traditionally performed by employees to the Internet multitude” (Libert & Spector, 2007, p. 3).

It is refered as the act of a company or institution taking a function once performed by employees and outsourcing it to an undefined (and generally large) network of people in the form of an open call. Example in our country, out of many examples of crowdsourcing we choose to mention Sunsilk drama series applies a crowdsourcing model to let the viewers to identify what is the drama’s story line. Same goes to the organization, on certain business issues, the company let it open to be discussed and take a further action based on the ideas and feedback given by the employees. The ideas will get feedback from the other employees of the organization and one idea will be chosen by votes. Wiki let the employees to support the ideas while organization will decide according to the preferences. By directing and leading the power of crowds (can be their customers, employees, suppliers or investors) toward a common goal more business people can make and are making better decisions and bigger profits. Another example, R&D department of an organization can ask people about their desired products and services and give them an opportunity to speak their mind through Wiki. Customers on the other hand are more interested to buy what they have created and also there will be a guarantee that they will like it.

         3.1.2 Assisting Coordination

Coordination refer to the ability of the group in coordinating their behaviors or works with each other in a way that is convergent with the general benefit of group. For instance How do companies organize their operations? Perhaps these types of problems are the most important yet challenging issues within a group. Considering that a successful group is made up of independent, decentralized individuals, it seems hard for group members to coordinate their activities and decisions with collectively beneficial goals.

In many situations employees act in an organized way just by reading the employment manuals instructions that spelt out their job scope even without anyone telling them what to do.  In many situations employee’s expectations would converge in “focal points” whereby Wiki can be considered a tool for employees to merge their expectations and grouping their behaviors. These points are in other words a set of norms and conventions internalized by all of the employees that show how they find their way to “collectively beneficial results not only without centralization, but also without even talking to each other directly.” Hence once employees find themselves in a group, they organize their behaviors according to a set of conventions that arrange them with a spontaneous order and illustrate the group’s wisdom and help them converge their decisions and behaviors with the whole group with a relative ease and absence of conflict. Wiki technology will help the organization to coordinate the employees tasks and flourish the discussion and create a good team decision.

         3.1.3 Building Cooperation

Cooperation is related to the ways that bring a number of distrusted and disconnected employees with diverse backgrounds and interests to cooperate with each other for a common goal. Some may argue about the motivation for cooperation among people and ask why are people willing to cooperate with each other and outweigh the group’s benefits over their own self-interests. Wiki technology will help the company to find mutual interaction will benefit all employees like being a part of a job that does not have a winner and a loser; instead, everyone will gain something at the end. They rely on trust in their cooperation and believe in their partner’s trustworthiness and their initial self-interests grow to a higher level of collective reliability and willingness to cooperation.

         3.1.4 Binding a Group, Enhancing Innovation

Business organizations seek better performance in innovation through business collaboration. They exploit innovative ideas through establishing mutually beneficial relationships by de-constructing innovation value chain and source-pieces from their partners that result in lower costs, better skills and access to more sources of knowledge. Therefore providing a place where these diverse ideas, information and talent can be mixed and mingled can be a brilliant action for a jumpstart to innovation. These places can be in different forms. From collaboration rooms, innovation centers to Wikis. Wiki is a communication platform can lead to increased collaboration and therefore result in idea generation and innovation. Through Wiki, the company will reduce the cost incurred by using traditional communication, enhancing employees capabilities and improving business performance.
3.2       Business Wiki Issues

            3.2.1    Reliability and Trustworthiness

Discussing on the reliability and the trustworthiness Wiki content, a research needs to be done in investigating the quality and accuracy of the information of business wiki on the web. The nature of Wiki is to let the employees and even the outsiders collaborate the ideas through the intranet or internet , one of the challenges is the reliability of the information that can be edited and spreaded by everyone within the community. If the content keep on changing, the reliability and credibility of the information given is doubtful. Some of the organizations refuse to adapt Wiki technology on its business because they feel that Wiki technology cannot be trusted as it may explode the company’s trade secrets and confidential information to the outsiders. The open nature of the Wiki content made managers to be worried about their proprietary information that should be confidential within the company firewall. These worries come from the idea that there are many participants who have the accessibility to content and therefore confidential corporate information might be threatened (Dearstyne, 2007). In order to overcome this issue, the organization should manage the creation, collection, storage and dissemination of company’s information. The access to the Wiki sites must be controlled to particular levels and types of information. At all times the company must provide a credible and right information to avoid confusion and bad perception on the company and limiting the information for the public.

            3.2.2    Usability

Discussing on the usability factor of Wiki technology in business collaboration, Wiki has provided a place for everyone to collaborate through the internet or intranet for business organization. It can be operated 24 hours and usable from any location that has internet access. However, some of the companies tend to reject Wiki technology as they may be too complaisant with the existing system and does not want to incur any cost of upgrading the IT systems at their premises. Furthermore, they are preferring not to re-train employees on how to use Wiki for the daily job activities. However, Wiki has many benefits. It can manage the documents and e-mail attachemenets easily in a very short period of time. The wiki is a much more efficient means of communication as well as a central knowledge pool to which every employee has unhindered access. Every employees that accessing through wiki will easily get an updates especially in project management whereby the employees can quickly get latest development information. The database stored through Wiki will enhance the operations and will provide the company high performance of tools to be more efficient such as exporting the documents, imbedding graphics and tables and others. Wikis are more flexible than other intranet applications and static pages, whose contents have to be brought up-to-date in a technically challenging way. To work in a wiki, employees don’t have to work at the same time or even in the same place; they work independently of each other on the same content. Changes are immediately online and very are easy to use.

            3.2.3    Transparency, Security and Confidentiality

Through Wiki, the companies can have very positive effects when most employees know the progress of jobs and what their colleagues in other departments are working on. The communicative dealings among colleagues can be found under the motto: equal communication and easily to be implemented under Wiki. Wikis are tolerant of mistakes. If an employee completely misses the target, changes can be easily reversed and the wiki can revert completely to earlier versions. The functional handling of wikis also includes the allocation of access authorizations for certain areas. Therefore, the view into the wiki may also be controlled. Wikis are undemanding regarding their system requirements. They require neither a certain operating system nor high processing resources. They are reachable from every where, even from older internet-capable PC and can be edited using every normal browser.


Wiki technology has many benefits for the company. Different companies may find different benefits of using Wiki as a tool to improve their business performance. We can divide the benefits into two categories, tangible and intangible benefits. For tangible benefits, the usage of Wiki for example in completing the projects has been shown to reduce the project delivery time due to improving of communications between the management to staff and staff to staff and even between the company to the vendors and clients. It also helps the organization to improve the level of collaboration between the parties.

Besides that, the use of Wiki has reduced the emails communications by accessing all of the documents centralized in the webs. This has eliminated the costly practice of emailing, editing, sharing and merging documents. Furthermore, the documents uploaded in the Wikis needs to comply with certain quality standards, have a version control, and audit trails. Wiki technology also helping the organization to promote green technology by creating paperless office and everything is in cyber communication.

For intangible benefits, wiki can be considered as a social software that help the employees to keep contact and connect across the whole organization and this is really helpful to make staff knowing each other better. It is easier for all employees to keep track on what is going on by watching recent changes in the webs for instance as Wiki can be used as a project management tool that can post a meeting time, resources status, division of workforce and for individuals to update their job and what currently they are working on. The existence of Wiki is good for business collaboration as it can be a centre of ideas whereby the employees can brainstorm and post their ideas for the notice of others. Main important, the sharing concept produced by Wiki is easily to be understand and use by everyone and can come out with a very attractive features not as boring as traditional ways of communications have.

In this paper, we can see that Wiki technology can give more positive affects to business collaboration. The Wiki concept is based on how everyone involve in creating, editing and contributing the business content and ideas. For further discussion, we are going to elaborate further on Wiki business collaborative functions:

4.1       The Wiki as a Medium for Business Collaboration

Wiki is helping the organization to let every single individuals to communicate cyberly under a platform or medium of Wiki. The interactions between the organization, employees, suppliers and clients are lively. All of them can be considered as a “collaborators” whereby the can use the Wiki to contribute the ideas for certain projects or products, communicating among them to get the feedback and opinions and the most important is sharing the information to improve business performance. Using Wiki does not need or require to gather everyone to be at one place and at a specific time as offered by the traditional practices. Wiki helps the business entity to simplify the process by enabling everybody to participate and collaborate regardless of time and place. The employees and the customers will feel they are a part of the organization and it creates a sense of belonging and loyalty to the organization and the business. When the employees feel that their opinions are heard by the organization, they will share the responsibility of finding solutions to problems and also to feel engaged with working within the organization. The level of working performance and efficiency of employees will increase and Wiki is assisting the organization to control the behavior of the employees. Touching on the customers or clients feedback, they are openly can give their comments and opinions whereby this should be taken seriously by the organization to keep on improving the products or services given. For a company that offers services to the customers, Wiki is the best medium for expediting the process of ordering, purchasing and monitoring. this collaborative process using the Wiki can help the group in making better estimations for problems through the collective outcome that consists of many contributions by everyone. Wiki can be a dynamic collaboration medium where people can easily access and share information with others and at the same time manage the information. Wiki affects collaboration in providing a link between all members which make them closer to each other and participate in a process of organized sharing of knowledge.
4.2       Usage of Wiki for Internal and External Business Organization

Previously, we have discussed that some of the business organization is worried of the leak of company confidential information to the public and competitors, in other words more on confidentiality and privacy issue. Customers are doubting on the credibility and the integrity of content provides through Wiki technology. This can be solved by segregating the use of wiki into two different context which internal and external. We know that Wiki allows for more people to be involved in the collaboration process because everyone has the ability to easily share information with others as well as to access others information. So, the IT personnel or Chief Information Officer (CIO) must create a limitation of access within these two contexts. For internal wiki-based collaboration is conducted within a limited organizational context for collaborative content management purposes and also for collaborative development of projects. The number of people specifically employees involved in this kind of collaboration is limited to those who are involved in the group work or a particular project. For external context it provides a global platform for employees to cooperate together from many different places but within an organizational context which means no other collaborators such as customers or partners are involved in the group work. However, organizations are not likely to use the Wiki for more open use and mass collaboration and they are reluctant to open their sources of knowledge to large numbers of people which may threaten their pride, competitiveness, and reputation. A more global use of the Wiki would produce large amount of interactions that requires control and tracking to ensure that these interactions are productive and can be integrated to achieve a collective outcome.

4.3       Reliability Content of Wiki

The content over the Wiki can be accessed by everyone and also it can be changed and edited by the group and it is depending on how the structure of the Wiki in an organization has been setup. The use of Wiki for internal purposes has high quality and accuracy of the information and content as the contributors or collaborators know each other because there are in one organization and handling and focusing on a specific project and task. The content contribution by the employees of an organization can be tracked and traced and this process is transparently identified by the organization to ensure the reliability of content. However, for external use of Wiki, information is open for masses of people and it is not reliable because the contributors are not known and the sources of information cannot be tracked thus affecting the quality and accuracy of data. For example, the customers may send a wrong feedback and false opinions that may affect the quality of information.

4.4       Wiki in Business Innovation and Process Flow

Wiki provides an iterative process for exchanging ideas and experiences in the sense that their knowledge is continuously combined together resulting an innovation. Feedback-giving ability by employees can be viewed as a productive building of creative knowledge that is useful for producing innovation. Wikis allows for effective exchanging of ideas through enabling everyone to easily access each others ideas and also to provide comments and feedback that can either compliment these ideas or enhance them. The diagram below is a sample of how Wiki technology can be applied in an organization. In term collaboration, Wiki technology will enable anybody or everybody to collaborate in a web. This can be referred as an interaction between employers with employees, employees with employees within the organization and even the outsiders such as customers, vendors or any parties. Under wiki technology, the organization will be able to create a web page or web site to promotes its products and services. This web-site is going to manage by IT department or IT officers under the supervision of Chief Information Officer (CIO). All of the information uploaded in Wiki can be shared not only within the organization but also can be limited within a group and unlimited with the public.

5.0       CONCLUSION

Wiki is a new dimension or new paradign that will change the business design. With its existence, Wiki can become the best tool to accelerate the interactions within the business organization and the global unlimited users of internet. It can expedite the process of company’s operations and germinate the new ideas through information sharing that can innovate the business. Wiki in our previous discussions can assist in the business collaboration and cooperation by enabling the employees to interact within the organization and for the customers to give their feedback for further improvement. Content created within the organization is reliable because of high transparency between contributors/collaborators but in an external organization content cannot be reliable due to lower transparency. In addition, the reliability of the content is affected by the large amount of data especially in an external use of Wikis for collaboration. Wiki can impact organizational innovation through the introduction of creative ideas, knowledge, and experiences of the contributors. Wiki also enhancing the cooperation especially in a specific project whereby the members of the project can interact, discuss, and brainstorm different ideas. At this point, the organization should consider to apply the Wiki technology in their business in order to improve its performances, increase productivity and achieving high profitability.

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