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Is Your E-Mail System Broken?

The corporate potential of 'Web 2.0' tools

Last, when e-mail is the principle means for sharing and editing documents, there can be multiple versions of one document in various stages throughout the enterprise. Versioning is difficult to manage with multiple authors using not only a variety of versions but also a variety of operating systems and applications. When several authors need to cooperate on a document shared through e-mail, team members must wait for the document to become available before they work on their portion. These versioning issues can be avoided with another Web 2.0 tool called the wiki.

Famous for driving the user-generated Internet encyclopedia called Wikipedia, the wiki is an editable Web page that any team member can create or edit with little technical expertise. Users of a wiki are able to create online documents and link those pages to other pages or resources that have relevant information or more detail. In a corporate application, a project team can use the wiki to author documentation, publish notes, and provide the contact information of an entire project team. With a wiki, one individual can author and make edits to a document while a team member works on a different section. Each edit will create a new version that is maintained by the wiki software. Instead of waiting, team members can work on a piece simultaneously, and the wiki software will reconcile both sets of edits into one master document, highlighting conflicts. When completed, the document can be exported to any number of formats, all without e-mailing.

E-mail is still an invaluable tool in point-to-point business communications and will remain so for the foreseeable future. However, with the availability of Web 2.0 tools, it’s time for e-mail to join the retired ranks of the carbon-copied memo when it comes to team collaboration.

Next Steps
Is your project team interested in deploying “Web 2.0” style tools to increase its ability to collaborate? The following list provides some useful resources for technology selection, policy making, and implementation decisions.

  1. Technology Selection: There are several Web-based tools to choose from that will work with your budget. For blogging software, try WordPress. It’s open source, free, and has an active developer community. For wikis, you can try MediaWiki, or if you have some room in your budget, try any number of commercial applications such as SocialText or Confluence.
  2. Policy Making: When you start to publish your ideas instead of sending them, people will take notice. Make sure you have a policy in place so that your project team knows what they can write about. This is meant to be a set of guiding principles rather than a strict set of rules.
  3. Implementation: Find a small project team made up of about 4–5 people and start posting your workflow on the project blog. Create categories that represent important elements of the project, e.g., schedules and timelines. Use tags to assign further context to blog posts and consider tagging certain posts with unique identifiers such as a team member’s name.

More Stories By Matt Goddard

Matt Goddard, head of digital marketing strategy and operations, leads R2i's strategic direction while providing valuable support to client digital marketing projects. Hid business expertise and understanding of social network theory are frequently called upon by R2i clients and partners as they develop their short- and long-term strategic plans. Matt is also responsible for R2 ventures, a division of R2i that makes equity investments in start-up companies launching unique and innovative technologies. Prior to his work with R2i, Matt was co-founder of Impreza, a leading website development and software firm. Impreza was acquired by Sinclair Broadcast Group (SBGI) in 2000.

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Most Recent Comments
Impressions Through Media 10/17/07 02:32:57 PM EDT

Trackback Added: 49 Extra Minutes Per Day?!; Matt Goddard recently published an article on web2journal.com about the corporate benefits of Web 2.0 tools. Goddard references a study by Gartner Research which states that the average person needs about 49 minutes per day to manage email.
Goddard sug...

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