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Corporate Blogging - Support it or shoot it down ?

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Before I even move to address the question "should companies support or oppose corporate blogs" let me define it first. To me corporate blog simply means a communication channel between customers, employees, management, internal departments etc. No organization is devoid of tensions and problems between the various stakeholders and if all the luxury I can have is to use one word to solve these problems, my pick without a second thought would be 'COMMUNICATION'.

So if this is the case they anything which works as a communication channel should be a good thing. But I don't know if the answer to that question can be laid out in black and white. As is the answer to any management problem the answer is - 'it depends'

So let me put some thoughts on what are the pros and cons of having corporate blogs

  • Blog is owned by one or a small group of people but always build in a collaborative and participative manner. If run a spirit where everybody taking information and feeding information back into the blog works as a team a blog is definitely bound to succeed.
  • A Internal blog can serve a multitude of situations in a corporate environment
    • Teams working on a project have different levels of IT knowledge but still want to communicate - A project blog is a great solution
    • A Blog is a good solution where ever it is necessary to promote dialogue and find lateral ideas outside the team
    • Thinking of a knowledge management system - try to approach it via a blog !
  • A Blog can serve as a simple approach to get to anybody in the organization to collect comments and thoughts.
  • Capturing ones thoughts via writing it down is probably one of the most beneficial ways in my opinion - simply because it crystallizes the idea further and also becomes the written memory of the organization.
  • Customer communication is one of the areas where companies always have a problem - what do disclose and what would be that would interest the customer is always a tough question to answer - well the solution is simple, put the customer in charge and let him decide what he wants.
  • Blog's are a great way to collect feedback and what my users (employees - managers, employees - internal departments, organization-customers etc) think. A blog is probably a great way to capture all the data and draw conclusions from patterns of additions etc.
  • Want some drive and competition - throw in a page ranking system on any of the blogs where you want that and I think it will work very well.
Cons - it does not take too much of digging around and talking to a few people to identify that all the benefits might not be as easily realized without risks. A company needs to be very well aware of the risks it run to realize the benefits that have been identified above. Ed Yourdon puts down a pretty exhaustive list in his post "What a Company’s Blogging Policy Says to its Employees". Although I will not make any attempt to discuss each of them I believe that all these concerns/risks stem from the following areas and what counter-arguments to this might be,
  • Fear of the unknown - although most time companies don't know what damage a corporate blog can cause but fear that it might lead to employees putting the company in bad light, disclose secret information, disclose mistakes that the company would like to hide etc etc
  • Trust on employees - Employees are always a source of information if or not you allow them to blog. Trusting them should come irrespective of a company having corporate blogs or not
  • Impact on productivity - If you don't have corporate blogs employees will just take other options, it is probably have your bloggers associated with your brand name rather than with external entities
  • Multiple communication channels with external entities - this is probably something which I agree, so have a tighter control on who gets to blog on pages which external entities can log on
Net net, I strongly believe that corporate blogs should be something that should be allowed. After all one glance of applications and tools that work on and around blogs to ease out the information in blogs is tremendous.

Corporate blogs are a great success at IBM, Adobe... my next step is to get a little deeper into the why's and how's of this.

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