Blogs in business?

It seems like every major organisation is now has a blog published by executives, the latest seems to be Sun President Jonathan Schwartz. Will blogs has a long term impact on the way we work? Many (including myself) felt instant messaging would be the next big thing, while it still could be, for the moment it seems to have faded out, see articles on Yahoo and AOL dropping their corporate IM platforms.

Blogs are a spoke in the complex wheel called “knowledge management”, coupled with personal knowlegde networks, virtual communities, real-time collaborative tools, document management an E-Learning to name a few others. A recent article in Computerworld talks about how corporate blogs are currently being used and could be used in the future. I feel that the benefits of corporate blogs (both internal and external) will potentially be very large, if the tools are easy to use. If you want more info on internal blogging have a look at a great article on the subject at Blogroots.

One of the biggest issues is the actual management of the information so that it is useful, search technology should help here. However corproate blogs may end up being just more information noise in an already crowded world. I remember in the mid 90’s while I was at Nortel Networks, it seemed every person, department and project had their own web site on the intranet. Being a high tech company we all were trying out technology and creating pages of information. Guess what in about 12 months with many people moving on we had our very own web page grave yard at one point there were millons of web pages just on the intranet. Let us hope corporate blogs will be different different. Another potential issue, esspecial external blogs will be liability, highlighted by the fact that in Johathan Schwartz’s first post he indicated that the Michael Dillon Senior Vice President, General Counsel and Secretary for Sun may not approve. We have seen the recent liability rasied through emails and other electronic media, corporate blogs will be exposed to the same levels of scrutiny.

If blogs do take off there is the potential for significant benefits to an organisation. Such as; increased speed of communication, and virtual team communication are two benefits that organisations could benefit regardless of their size or industry. Relationship building between employees and customers is another, interesting Human Capital magazine reported in edition 2.6 about the top 10 trends in HR for 2004, one of these happens to be relationships. Blogs can help you develop these relationships by listening to the feedback from employees on new ideas and programs. Another benefit of internal blogs could be with ideas management, allowing employees and the enterprise overall to management new ideas so that they do not get lost. Either team or individual based these internal idea blogs can help with the development and implementation of new ideas, coupled with a culture of open feedback and communication all employees would have the ability to review and provide input on everyone else’s ideas.

Although I firmly beleive that these benefits will only transpire if the content can be filtered and delivered in a timely fashion, having thousands of really useful peices of information will not help unless the organisation can harness that information. The use of RSS feeds might be one solution. Integrating the feeds into an employee’s Inbox, via a tool like NewGator, there by allowing the employee to subscribe to the feeds that they are interested in will assist. Corporate search technology is another requirement, by this I mean beyond the traditional keyword searching, tools like the Google Search Appliance and Microsoft MSN Search technology.

In a report almost a year ago Gartner said we would probably be waiting another 5 years before mainstream corporate blogging really takes off, I personally feel things have moved a little quicker than that and would be interested to see what their views are today.

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