Platt Perspective on Business and Technology

Wikipedia, wikis and social media marketing – 5

Posted in social networking and business, Web 2.0 marketing by Timothy Platt on March 16, 2011

This is my fifth posting in a series on wikis as a social media and social networking tool, in promoting and developing a business (see Web 2.0 Marketing, postings 40 and 42 through 44 for parts 1 to 4.) I started this series looking at outwardly facing wikis and at crowd sourcing content and editorial control. I then turned in Part 4 to look at the in-house wiki as a core component to building a web 2.0 interactive information infrastructure. I continue that discussion here with consideration of third party wiki solutions and much of this discussion is going to be about costs and benefits.

Both costs and benefits sides to this analysis have multiple components, and complex components at that. So for example, cost analysis has to consider both the possible loss if an undesired event happens, and a measure of the probability of that happening – much in the manner of calculating risk for insurance purposes. And both costs and benefits need to be benchmarked against alternatives that may be pursued instead of taking a wiki solution.

To take this out of the abstract, let’s go back to Part 4 in this series and consider project management using wikis or alternatives to them and for costs and benefits.

• What would it cost to host a wiki with the document sharing and other capabilities you would want from a third party wiki hosting service? Here, this is a matter of due diligence determination of set up and maintenance fees and other set charges, and with a checklist of desired features, set up prioritized where some may be absolutely essential and some more optional.
• How do the third party providers under consideration manage access and security, and both from outside hackers and from possible internal compromise?
• Have they ever experienced security breaches that would have compromised the confidentiality of client information held on or available through their services?
• If so, how serious were these breaches and how did they address their vulnerabilities to prevent recurrences? How quickly and effectively did they work with their clients in remediating these occurrences?
• Do these services ever bring in white hat hackers to penetration-test their systems for vulnerabilities and to get a fresh-eyed perspective on where they may need to further develop their security?
• Do they have systems redundancy to cover for non-hacker events that could lead to servers or other systems components going down?
• Basically, these and related questions are intended to help calculate likelihood and costs of systems compromise and failure.
• What proprietary and/or confidential information and resources would be accessible through an outside hosted wiki, and worst-case, what would be the cost if they were compromised?

Now still looking at the costs side of this, what are the alternatives to in this case managing projects with a geographically dispersed team without using a wiki as an organizing platform? What alternatives would be used and what would their costs and benefits be?

If an alternative would be carried out in-house you have costs from maintaining a technology infrastructure to consider, with fixed or at least readily predictable costs. You also face potential costs from compromise of security from hackers who may come in from the outside but who may come at you from among your own employees too. If your main alternatives are also third party hosted or in the cloud, some of your fixed costs and potential, actuarially determined costs may be more or less the same as you would face with a hosted wiki solution regardless of what you do.

• Insurance premiums may have to be added in, or at least a percentage of them that would be determined by the details in your business continuity and related coverage.

Now what are the benefits you would expect? Here this most definitely has to be measured in comparison to alternatives you may use in managing your large and dispersed projects.

• Would using a wiki approach for developing and coordinating a project reduce the time it takes to prototype, or the number of prototype steps needed to reach a level of performance quality in the product or service under development to go live with it?
• How would this timing difference affect your top and bottom lines? Would this make the difference, for example in securing key client contracts and accounts?
• Would using this approach be more cost-effective as to development expenses accrued, and if so where in the project?
• Would this approach more effectively facilitate oversight and/or buy-in from necessary stakeholders?
• Thinking ahead, would the records left from using a wiki-supported project management approach reduce costs or cut development times for future projects or be of monetizable value to any of your business’ operational processes?

I write this posting quite aware of the difficulty faced in actually putting firm numbers in place. But I write this because the issues I touch on here should be considered in doing a due diligence on the merits and challenges of using wikis, and of third party and cloud sourced hosting solutions in general.

My next posting in this series will continue discussion of using wikis as a component to an in-house information infrastructure and will look at how they can be used to bring an organization more effectively together, and particularly for large and complex organizations with complex and perhaps even multiple corporate cultures.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: