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Often during my meetings with Euan Semple he refers to corporate intranets as “knowledge coffins”. This is pertinent as one of my worries about the intranet that I manage is that, though I can see numerous items of fresh content posted each week, I am far from convinced that anyone is reading it!

I see enterprise strength wiki integration as a major way to address this and reinvigorate the intranet. Notification features such as granular Watch, E-mail Notification, and of course RSS, features of enterprise wiki offerings like Socialtext and Atlassian’s Confluence will draw a regular audience into the wiki, and, just perhaps, the legacy intranet content via hyper-links.

This new crowd of active and frequent lurkers boost the ROI by consuming, and hopefully acting on, the wealth of business knowledge that the weekly posters so diligently supply.

To boost this effect, I would love to find a way to integrate the wiki’s built-in search and labels (tag cloud) such that it returns relevant documents from the legacy intranet in addition to wiki pages. The converse of this would be to also have the intranet search include wiki pages.

Does anyone have experience of integrating wikis and legacy intranets in this way? I look forward to hearing your comments.

  1. A recent post by by Stewart Madder on the Atlassian blog prompted me to explain how I believe an enterprise wiki can be used to re-invigorate a legacy intranet.

    Typically, the intranet tools which are in use today have somewhat clumsy publishing processes. There is a form to fill out with half a dozen fields (categories / sub-categories, Title, expiry, attachment and a few more) Some of them even have an approval/authorization process and other impose a conversion routine where word attachments are converted to HTML. Information is usually categorized via a taxonomy and it exists in silos that mirror the companies’ organizational structure.

    Thos who know wikis will appreciate the magical qualities they bring to content management, some of which are.

    - Incredible ease of publishing
    - Anyone can publish / anyone can read
    - There is no clear content owner. This reduces the feeling of intimidation thereby encourages others to pitch-in and improve the text.
    - The tags (labels) provide for a folksonomy and a way for one piece of information to be categorized in many ways thereby enhancing discovery.
    - Notification: Advanced enterprise strength wikis like Confluence have sophisticated “watch” tools that provide both email and (spam/virus free) RSS notifications of new and changed content.

    It is my hope that the workforce will create new documents within the wiki that reference, via hyperlinks somewhat more formal documents that exist within the traditional intranet thereby driving traffic to and reinvigorating the legacy intranet content (or the sub-set of that content that the workforce decide is still relevant/useful.

    As part of a future phase I would like to investigate Atlassian’s social book marking plug-in to see if this can be used to boost this effect.