All too often, e-mail is used as a tool for electronic collaboration. When that happens, your e-mail load increases greatly as your productivity and effectiveness diminishes. Why? Because e-mail does not have the features needed to allow teams to easily work together on a project. Fortunately, in the mid-1990’s, a new type of software was designed for that purpose. Groupware, or as it is sometimes called, teamware, is software that enables co-workers scattered throughout a building or around the world to use networked computers to share ideas, data, and programs almost as if they were sitting at the same desk. It functions like a secure, highly versatile online service that is dedicated to an organization’s use. One of the biggest downsides of today’s groupware is that they are enterprise applications designed from the top down, and all require learning a new user interface.
Enter the Wiki, a technology we reported on in our Technotrends Newsletter when it first appeared, a Wiki is basically a group blog (Web log) that can be easily edited by its readers. Think of it as a Web page that can be edited like a word processor. A Wiki can be used as a quick way to collaborate with colleagues, or as a way for corporate teams to manage projects. And, because a Wiki can be hosted, team members have access to it from anywhere in the world 24/7. Another great feature of a Wiki is that instead of distributing additional documents team members might need to review or contribute to as e-mail attachments that need to be downloaded into each person’s computer, documents can be posted to a Wiki. Once they are posted, team members cannot only read them, but they can make additions or corrections to them. If a change is made to a document, members of the team can be automatically notified of the change.