Wiki-based collaboration in a large organisation: an enabler of effective knowledge management

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The World-Wide Web has evolved into a collaborative learning environment, where contribution and participation are replacing consumption and passive involvement. The shift which has taken place towards 'web 2.0' has been extraordinarily rapid, with the true potential of the web to connect people and their knowledge being seen. The use of web 2.0 tools as enabling technologies for knowledge management is becoming increasingly popular, with organisations replicating the success of these technologies on the consumer web behind their firewalls. The goal is to improve the knowledge sharing cultures internally and make better use of their organisational knowledge, so as to gain competitive advantage. The full potential of the adoption of web 2.0 tools has yet to emerge, however early cases of successful implementation of social tools in support of organisational goals are positive. By closely aligning the aims of the knowledge management initiative with the goals and business objectives of the organisation, together with the early support of senior management, the potential success of the program is improved. An experiment to introduce web 2.0 technologies in a large financial services organisation has been undertaken to examine the challenges which arise and how the approach and language of the initiative helped to overcome potential misunderstanding and confusion about the terms web 2.0 and knowledge management. A pilot of an enterprise wiki platform was implemented, with full engagement of design and technical teams to position the technology as a potential collaboration standard. The focus was always about the capture and sharing of knowledge throughout, with many learning points for wiki champions and knowledge managers emerging. Confusion around the true definition of knowledge management can be harmful to the potential success of initiatives if the wrong approach is taken. Focusing too much on technology can distract knowledge managers from the most important elements of implementing a successful knowledge management program; people, social networks and their knowledge. While technology will almost always be part of any knowledge management initiative, it is important to recognize that it is only an enabler of the cultural change with which knowledge management is associated. In order to facilitate effective collaboration between cross-functional and geographically dispersed teams, a new suite of enabling technologies is required, as the frequency with which these types of collaboration occur increases. Traditional tools such as email and file share have been overused and actually detract from effective collaboration amongst teams in projects which appear with increasing complexity. This approach has shown that the terms knowledge management and web 2.0 are not crucial to the success of these programs. Aligning the goals of the project to the business objectives of the organisation allows senior management to better engage with the efforts involved in achieving those aims.