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Archive for the tag “wiki”

LibGuides – Enterprise 2.0 for the Library

Currently I am completing a Request for Proposal document outlining a web 2.0 implementation plan for the QUT Library. After investigating the Library’s current situation and identifying the tools they are currently offering their clients, I have come across one in particular which I am going to discuss in this post. This tool is known as LibGuides.

LibGuides is a software package developed by Springshare, a company who has made it their goal “to develop practical web 2.0 applications built specifically for libraries and educational institutions,” (Springshare, 2009). LibGuides is a “web 2.0 content management and library knowledge sharing system” that can be used to create attractive, multimedia rich web pages to share resources, content and knowledge collaboratively amongst users. LibGuides puts the power of content creation in Librarian’s hands. It provides a flexible and easy to use interface from which Librarians can create customised pages specific to the content they wish to display.

Below is a fairly long and unintersting video about the uses and benefits of LibGuides… but if you don’t feel like watching it all (Iwon’t blame you) I’ll give you the low down of how LibGuides works, what it offers and the benefits it provides.

How does it work?
The benefit of LibGuides comes from the ability for Librarians to customise the look and feel of the website and add content modules to the page similar to MySpace’s Profile 2.0 system. Dragging and dropping modules onto the page is simple and these modules range from plaintext modules to fully-fledged RSS modules, multimedia modules, Delicious tag cloud modules and so on. These modules or widgets depending on what you prefer, can be further customised to enable commenting, polls and so on to enable participation from its users.

What does it offer?
LibGuides offers Librarians with an unlimited potential to create meaningful, attractive and useful content for their clients. With the ability to drop LibGuide modules onto the page, multimedia, tag clouds, polls, commenting systems, social media integration and sharing are all at the finger tips of the Librarian without the need for profound technical knowledge.

What are the benefits of LibGuides?

  • Integrating and embracing Web 2.0 technologies such as Twitter, syndication in the form of RSS feeds, social media sites such as Facebook, wikis and blogs has never been easier and with thousands of pre-made templates designing is even simpler.
  • Creating communities, sharing resources, monitoring usage and catalysing learning is much easier.
  • Receiving user opinions and running polls or questionnaires is as simple as dropping a module onto the page and customising a few fields. But for advanced users, customisation is powerful and can be used to adjust the appearance, look, behaviour and content of a module.

All in all I believe LibGuides is a huge step in the right direction for Libraries wanting to embrace web 2.0 concepts. It offers more flexibility and control in areas such as subject guides, learning portals and so forth allowing content to be customised and encouraging, enhancing and increasing collaboration and sharing in ways that Web 2.0 can only offer. You can try out LibGuides in use at the QUT Library’s subject guides: http://libguides.library.qut.edu.au/
Or if you are looking for more information on LibGuides you can visit their website at: http://www.springshare.com/libguides/index.html

Zoho Projects Review

zohoprojectslogo

For this post I’ve decided to do something a little different. I’m going to do a review on a Zoho.com product called Zoho Projects. This is a project collaboration tool designed specifically as a business app. I’ve done this review using the “one free trial” that comes with registering to use Zoho products.

Who/What is Zoho?

Zoho is a relatively new player in offering online applications. However, they offer a comprehensive suite of web-based applications for anything from word-processing, powerpoint creating to project management, web conferencing and invoicing. You can check out the Zoho Corporation about me section here, or visit their web app. home here. Registration is free, and you can use your exisiting Google, Google Apps or Yahoo! account to register also.

The Low-down on Zoho Projects

The interface for a project is rich and simple to use. It provides easy access to a diverse set of tools related to project management and collaboration. Each user has their own dashboard and can upload some details about themselves to their personal profile. They also have a status update field much like Facebook and Twitter that lets them update others in the project about what they are doing in less than 140 characters. The dashboard displays all project members’ updates and  latest activities whilst also providing access to an RSS feed to receive these updates in an external RSS reader. See the dashboard below:

ZohoDashboard

As you can see Zoho Projects offers the following sections: Tasks and Milestones, Calendar, Meetings, Reports, Forum, Wiki, Chat an Users.

Tasks and Milestones
In the Tasks and Milestones section you can create Milestones. Under each Milestone can lie several task lists which each contain a number of tasks. Each of these can be allocated to a project member and assigned dates to be completed. In addition, tasks can be given dependencies so that one must be completed before the other. The milestones are then reflected on the calendar showing when it is due. The dashboard updates section highlights new tasks and they are also feed into the RSS feed.

Meetings
The meetings section lets users arrange meetings. The meetings have a time and date associated with them and can be allocated to specific users in the project. Notes can also be attached to the meeting for further detail. The calendar displays upcoming meetings and status and RSS feeds are updated with new meetings.

Reports
The reports section presents the user with a number of charts and such to document current task lists and milestones. These can be separated into each user and presented as bar graphs, Gannt charts and so on.

Forums
The forum section is just like any other standard forum platform allowing forum posts and users to reply to posts.

Wiki
The wiki section allows users to create pages and edit them like any wiki platform. Nevertheless, the Zoho Wiki has powerful word processing tools available from the custom GUI at the top of the editing pane. This allows for complete manipulation of the wiki content. RSS feeds are available for all pages so users can subscribe and receive updates. Comments can also be posted on individual wiki pages for feedback and collaboration amongst workers.
ZohoWikiExample

Chat
Chat enables users to communicate via an Instant Messaging service. It is similar to a group chat in any messenger service such as Windows Live Messenger. You can also send files to other people in the chat.

Users
This section is for managing the users associated with the project. Users can include employees, contractors and even the clients. This is the one-stop hub for viewing fellow employees profiles and communicating directly with them. Having clients as users is useful for gaining feedback from them by communicate directly to better understand their needs.

Summary

I think Zoho Projects is an extremely powerful tool for managing projects. The wide range of useful and applicable tools it offers its users are both powerful but at the same time extremely simple to use and navigate. I believe that this web application would be useful for small businesses and project teams. Whether it can handle extremely large project teams is another issue but I think it could quite possibly do the job. Just like all the other applications Zoho offers, this tool has exceeded my expectations and I will quite happily use it in the future. This tool is a prime example of an Enterprise 2.0 tool because of the intergration of many web 2.0 features such as: status updates, RSS feeds, wikis, and so on.

Wikis in the Enterprise

What is a wiki?

Wikis were first introduced in WikiWikiWeb a website designed by Ward Cunningham in 1995. A wiki is the term given to an online document that many people can collaborate on. That is, they can edit, update, delete, add pages/links, change content and so on to wiki pages. The most common and well known wiki is: Wikipedia.

What is an Enterprise wiki?

Infoworld declared 2004 as the Year of the enterprise Wiki, as wikis began to emerge in businesses across the globe. Bascially, a wiki that is used for conducting work in an enterprise is an Enterprise wiki.

What is so great about wikis?

  • Collaboration. Participation. Harnessing collective intelligence (Tim O’Reilly)
  • Wikis provide users with simple and easy to use methods of content creation via a wiki markup language.
  • Linking -> An important part of the SLATES paradigm in Andrew McAfee’s blog, wikis make linking to other wiki pages easy by stripping it down to the bare essentials in the Wiki markup language. Provides an easy ability to forge deep interconnections between data sources.
  • Edits and history of the document is tracked so you can return to previous versions and look at differences between versions.
  • User access control: Wikis can have the power to allow and deny users. Users who are not registered can be disallowed the ability to edit. Registered users will have their username fixed to edits so that these changes can be tracked to particular users.
  • Modern wikis can integrate with other tools such as e-mail, RSS and blogs.

Weaknesses of wikis?

  • Giving many users access relies on their ability to contribute effectively and advantageously.
  • Spamming can be possible when masses of users can contribute anonymously.
  • Control is sacrificed for empowerment, that is managers lose control while users take/get control.

Businesses using wikis?

  • Disney:
    Disney’s Digital Media faction started using a wiki when its team decided they needed a tool that matched their department. They needed speed and collaboration, so they create an internal website without consulting their boss. They just did it. The project was not seen as defiance of their management but rather a tool to enhance their performance and better use the resources of their 150-strong team. Reader here – Online version of the magazine article.
  • Dell:
    Socialtext co-founder discusses how their product helped Dell:

    “The second use case is a participatory knowledge base. So at Dell, for instance, we did a knowledge base for their call center. Their call center handles exceptions. That’s what they do all day long. Answer a call, hear the problem, look for an answer, and then they don’t have the information. Now, [with a wiki], they tap the informal network that exists inside the call center and document the solution. 99 percent of the pages created [on the wiki] and tagged allow the call center to go from 20 clicks to find information to four, substantially decreasing search costs and decreasing the average call time by 10 to 20 percent.” (Source: Discussing the role of enterprise wikis).

  • Yahoo:
  • “…we use TWiki internally to manage documentation and project planning for our products. Our development team includes hundreds of people in various locations all over the world, so web collaboration is VERY important to us. TWiki has changed the way we run meetings, plan releases, document our product and generally communicate with each other. We’re great fans of your work!” (Source: The Yahoo Twiki success page).

  • Others:
    See the Twiki (Wiki product provider) customer list with quotes from users of the software. Customers include: Nokia, Yahoo!, Oracle, Trend Micro, Sony, United States Coast Guard, Allergan, etc.

Businesses and Web 2.0 tools

Recently I was asked to elaborate on my post “Increasing productivity with Web 2.0” by giving examples of some enterprises using web 2.0 tools in their business. So I’ve done some research and here’s what I’ve found:

In McKinsey Quarterly Magazine (2007), there was an article about how businesses are using web 2.0 technologies. There survey results determined the following,

“More than half of the executives surveyed say they are pleased with the results of their investments in Internet technologies over the past five years, and nearly three-quarters say that their companies plan to maintain or increase investments in Web 2.0 technologies in coming years. (A mere 13 percent say they are disappointed with previous investments.) Companies that acted quickly in the previous wave of investment are more satisfied than late movers. Less than a fifth of all those surveyed say they are very satisfied with their returns. Of those who rate themselves as very satisfied, 46 percent are “early adopters” and 44 percent “fast followers””

Furthermore,

“Asked what might have been done differently to make the previous investments in Internet technologies more effective, only 18 percent say they would not have acted differently. Forty-two percent say they would have strengthened their companies’ internal capabilities to make the most of the market opportunity at hand. Among the 24 percent who say they would have moved faster, many describe their companies as fast followers or early adopters—a strategy consistent with the view that speed is of the essence in technology investments.”

Although these findings are now a bit outdated, it is clear that companies that are acting quickly, investing in new web 2.0 technologies are gaining significant financial benefits within their businesses. So what are the technologies that businesses are investing in?

Some of the most common web 2.0 technologies being used by businesses include: wikis, blogs, podcasts, RSS feeds and P2P networking tools (McKinsey, 2007). It appears that collaboration and communication tools are the most used tools by business for use within the organisation or to communicate with customers. These technologies were cited as achieving the most visible, immediate and least costly benefit to the business (McKinsey, 2007).

Blogging within businesses
Some of the most known business using blogs for internal, external and in management purposes include: Google, Sun Microsystems, Microsoft, Yahoo!, Time Warner, Nike, Pepsi, Mitsubishi and McGraw-Hill says Jeremy Wright on his blog “How Many Fortune’s 500′s Blogging“. I’ve included a wide range of companies (not just technologically-based ones) in this list on purpose to show how widespread blogging is.

Wikis within organisations
Wikis are also a common tool used internally for employees to communicate. Last night I was talking to my girlfriend’s family about their social interactions for another assignment I’m doing and discovered that they both use wikis at work to communicate amongst teachers at their respective schools. Both are Principals at state schools in Queensland and are using wikis every day to communicate with their co-workers. Many organisations and businesses use wikis as a tool for collaborating or communicating with one another.

Podcasts and RSS feeds within businesses
Podcasting can be used by management to update employees on issues and the latest news, but perhaps more interesting is the way podcasts are used to update the public and their customers on the latest news and information. This is very common in the Interactive Entertainment industry where game developers use syndicating and podcasts (as well as blogs) to update their devoted fans with interviews and such. Examples can be found at Blizzcast: http://us.blizzard.com/blizzcast/
Well I hope this gives you more insight into how businesses are using web 2.0 tools in their business. I could talk about this forever but I think this post is already long enough. Feel free to add any comments about businesses you know are using other web 2.0 tools. For example: Basecamp is used by companies to organise team projects.

References

McKinsey&Company. (2007). How Businesses are Using Web 2.0: A Global Survey. Retrieved, August 15, 2009, from http://www.mckinseyquarterly.com/How_businesses_are_using_Web_20_A_McKinsey_Global_Survey_1913

Wright, J. (2005). How Many Fortune 500′s Blogging? Retrieved, August 15, 2009, from http://www.ensight.org/2005/03/07/how-many-fortune-500s-blogging/

Blizzard. (2009). Blizzcast – The Blizzard Entertainment Podcast. Retrieved, August 15, 2009, from http://us.blizzard.com/blizzcast/

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