Blogging Goes Corporate
News Factor has a well balanced article on the corporate use of weblogs. Most of it is on the external use of weblogs:
In many cases, a company's decision to deploy Weblogs may hinge more on policy than on technical issues related to software deployment. More conservative companies may see Weblogs as too informal and too uncontrolled to justify the risk.
While it is true that personal blogs are usually the height of informality, the immediacy of communication and two-way nature of the discussion on sites that allow comments from readers have made blogs immensely popular with many readers and authors.
Searls said it is important that companies allow individual voices to come through, instead of "that corporate voice that we mock. Blogging can just involve companies with their markets in huge ways."
Some companies are seeking ways to harness the positives of blogging while tempering some of the rough edges. That may mean vetting material before it is posted. Caldwell told NewsFactor that Gartner reviews material before publishing it on its public Weblog. "It's right out there for everybody to see with the Gartner logo, so we do have a bit of a review process," he said. ...
...The big question in the not-so-distant future may be whether or not companies are willing to allow public discussion to flourish on Weblogs. A failure of nerve on the part of firms determined to stick with more timid, one-way communication may allow other, braver companies to achieve more "mindshare" by engaging the public.
As Dornfest told NewsFactor, "Discussion is going to break out. Might as well have it break out where you can see it."
If a clueful company engages in external blogging in an honest way it stands to engage its markets and build trust. There will be a role for editorial review for some companies, but the best ones will encourage their individuals to engage directly. If done right, individuals will be mindful of policy throughout the company. If not done, individuals still have the means to break policy through email (misaddressed or not) or discussion forums. The difference is if you use the new tools as a way to engage the entire company in a discussion of policy that reduces your risks over time.
The article covers internal blogging, something most articles do not because there is less compelling controversy.
Although it is hard to measure internal Weblog use, it is likely that these tools are being used extensively within enterprises. Behind corporate firewalls, employees can be more free with their opinions while keeping the rest of the company up-to-date on important projects or day-to-day operations.
Rael Dornfest, a researcher for O'Reilly and author of the Blosxom Weblog software, told NewsFactor that he thinks internal blogs are "taking the place of the 'today I did the following' memos" in many companies.
Searls said he has not seen any internal blogs -- since they are, after all, internal -- but agreed that they are bound to be useful. "Those are far more likely to be read than some corporate newsletter. Take the watercooler and put it in the browser."