Wikis And Clusters Of Competitiveness

Clusters of competitiveness are growing in popularity all around the world as a way to organize industrial actors in an effective way. They allow the creation of pool where resources are available for companies to pursue their operations in a driving environment. In order to make the most out of clusters, using a wiki to share information and knowledge between members is more than a sound idea : it is the next move on your agenda.

A cluster is a men's adventure

Rather than anything else, a successful cluster is a geographic zone where like-minded people can share, exchange and interact. A cluster by itself provides no more than an environment for business contacts, a pool of skilled workers, good communication structures... It's up to its members to make it live up to a successful venture rather than a failed attempt. To sustain human interactions in the context of a cluster, using a wiki is more than relevant.

How a Wiki could help Your Cluster

The fact is, most spoken information is lost on the rather short term. Even piles of e-mail do not end up in organized, searchable chunks of information. Using a wiki would allow companies to put all the untold information in one place and interact with it. Imagine an evolutive repository of companies, people, projects where information is kept up to date by those who have to rely on it to get things done : members. Then add a layer of collaborative tools and feeds to keep in touch with what is happening and you get a good idea of what a wiki could bring your cluster.

Does this really make sense ?

Just think about all the stuff you think about in one given day that could lead to great ventures, but is lost for it lacks a place to be expressed. Then think about what would happen if you could share this with the people who fit best your own profile : the other guys from your cluster. This place could exist, if only you took the step of creating a wiki. You could start one for a groupwork, an then extend it to see what is happening. But beware : if you taste it, you will never feel the same.

Want more ? Stay tuned.

© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC

The Bottle In The Sea Model

Some companies have decided to fight against the Paper-Plane Model (described below). They took a brave step : they decided to implement a Content Management System (CMS) ! This allowed them to switch from a system where e-mails are everywhere to another where information is centralized ... but no one actually goes through it.

The Model

In the Bottle-In-The-Sea Model, people put their files and documents in a centralized space where they are supposedly able to access and work on it easily. In practice however, most of this content is sunk somewhere and not seen by anyone. Although one may keep track of the last 10 documents, he is soon lost in version revision history. Content is there but ease of use nowhere.

Why does it work this way ?

The problem with CMS systems is that information is in a raw format, without structure. Although you can find about anything somewhere, you will not understand what are the connexions between the pieces of information you will find. This is due to the fact that CMS are built as repositories, not as user-friendly softwares.

Let me guess ... A wiki ?

The main advantage of a wiki over a CMS is that it allows you to give added value to the content you enter in the system. People can work directly on the page to which a document is attached. You know what your document is, in what context it should be understood. Research results are better too. Now you know what the data you found relates to. Not only do you have data, now you have meaning too.

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© Guillaume Lerouge for

The Paper - Plane Model

Communication in contemporary enterprises often looks like a darts game : I throw mine, and hope it will reach its target. The matter is, you hit the center only from times to times and all the remaining darts are quite unuseful. How does this relates to communication inside enterprises ? Just think about the way you are using e-mail. How many of those you receive are direclty relevant to you ?

The Paper-Plane Model

This model summarizes the point made before. It describes how, in companies, communication solutions (and specifically e-mail) are used to throw paper -planes containing data in many directions, hoping that something will come back from all these efforts. Paper is everywhere, information nowhere. Requests for contents are not organized in any coherent way as every individual tries to creates its own database with sent and received planes. The question is, why does this happen ?

Underlying Factors

All this has to do with the way people share texts and documents through e-mail. The ease of use of the application let everybody free to add copied recipients, to send uninformative messages, and so on. Every request generates a new message, even though the query may have been previously answered somewhere. Ever had this feeling of déjà-vu when you received a "new" question ? There is no central repository for the contents already created that could be browsed to retrieve information. But then, does a solution exist to solve this problem ?

A Solution Through Wikis

A wiki offers a good way of escaping the paper-plane model. It provides a centralized space where information can be added and modified easily by users. What's more, this space can be easily browsed through an integrated search engine. All your information is in the same place, always available and up to date. The number of planes is highly reduced, and the ones still in use carry more relevant information. Their content is progressively integrated into a database of all available knowledge in your company. Move on from the paper - plane model, go Wiki !

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© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC

A Wiki as an integrated communication solution

So you would like to start getting the most of what Internet offers in terms of communication potential, both inside your company and with your customers ? New wiki solutions can help you achieve this goal. Featuring a classic website as well as a blog and a wiki interface, they will give you the flexibility and strength you're after.

A classic website

If you want to build a powerful and flexible website but lack technical knowledge, you may consider a wiki to this end. A wiki would allow you to create a website from scrap with a few pictures and written material. Then you could add new pages and features (such as a calendar or a photo album) if required. The architecture is flexible and let you create new section as your business grow. And all this cost effectively.

A Blog

Blogs are increasingly being used for corporates purposes. They give your company a space to publish updates and product news as well as insight in its field of activity. A blog is easy to update and require nothing else but an ability to write (which hopefully you have). Their spread and skyrocketing utilization in various enterprise contexts (communication on a project, on an initiative...) are a testimonial of their efficiency in this setting.

A space for collaborative work

Modern organigrams require more and more teamworking to be conducted. Classice-mail solutions do not meet the requirements induced by this evolution. Group initiatives are often impaired by a lack of structure to sustain the coordination of individual work. A wiki-based solution allows a quick flows of information as well as easy document management. Your team can coordinate itself and get its members to work rather than losing time in unhelpful meetings.

Your business could gain access to huge resources if it was using a wiki-based solution to integrate its various online communication processes. Take a step into the future of online communication, try a wiki solution !

Want more ? Stay tuned.

© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC

If this article interested you, you might like XWiki. The company provides integrated wiki-based solutions to companies all over the world and is the most advanced on its market.

Wiki solutions for SMEs

In small businesses more than anywhere else, time means money. What does this have to do with wikis ?

Wikis ease coordination problems

As a small business, you have to handle work with multiple partners. Let's say that you are an architect : you have to work with your clients, subcontractors, builders, and so on. In order to do that you will have to send dozen of e-mails to them, often including attachments and forwarded through akward channels to people that should not receive them. Or you could choose to centralize all the relevant information in a virtual space that the people you are working with can access at any time, edit to add / correct informations and stay up to date with what is happening. This is what a wiki can do for you.

Wikis are a multidimensionnal solution

For your small business, a website is indispensable. A website ... or a blog ? How do you choose ? A wiki is an effective answer to this dilemma. Most wikis include a blog function, which mean that you will have a space to communicate quickly and easily on your company. Access Rights Management features let you choose who may have access to selected pages of your site. Here is a quick picture of what you can do : A few pages that everybody can see but only you edit, where you present your company and its products (you can even allow customers to buy online), another part where pages can be accessed and edited by your customers, your partners and you in order to manage specific projects, and a blog to post information about your business sector and additional updates about what's happening in your company.

Wikis are cheaper than supposedly "custom-designed" solutions

As a small business, your monetary resources are limited and you don't want to waste them. A wiki provides you with a preexisting interface that you can organize your way, and let you focus on what truly matters : write content relevant to your business and update it easily, without technical concerns. You will not have the flash animations that annoys your readers anyway, but rather an effective website that will cost you only a fraction of what a webdesigner would have asked. And you won't be bothered with the fact that you cannot add content when your webmaster is on holiday.

Wikis are a good solution for many small businesses needs when it comes to creating a website and managing projects with numerous actors involved. Now your Small Business can go Web 2.0 easily, just try a wiki !

Want more ? Stay tuned.

© Guillaume Lerouge for WikiBC