Friday, September 17, 2004

A really good write up on Bloggin within the corporation ...

Blogs within corporation

This is a very wide topic, of course, so I will start with what I wrote on my company's internal blog (no link, for obvious reasons) as a preparation for an interview with journalist from a specialist journal who gave us this synopsis.

In recent years, web logs (or 'blogs') have proliferated across the Internet. These public online diaries, updated regularly with the owner’s comments, news and recommended Internet links, have typically been published by private individuals. However, organisations are starting to see the blog’s potential as a fast, informal way to share information - project updates, research or test results, product release news, industry headlines - with employees, suppliers and customers. This feature will examine the business, organisational and technology changes needed to support a corporate blog and how the blog format can sit alongside established collaborative mediums such as email and document sharing applications.

What can blogs offer to businesses that more traditional forms of corporate collaboration do not?

What are traditional forms of corporate collaboration:

  • email

  • intranets

  • IM

  • shared networks

  • conference calls

  • meetings

What is the objective of corporate collaboration:
  • effective management of processes

  • communication

  • distribution of information

  • knowledge creation/evolution

  • people management - satisfaction, personal growth etc

Are current forms of corporate collaboration doing their job? I don't think so. Email is often a distraction rather than effective communication tool, intranets, web portals are boring and usually mean an extra chore rather than being an effective tool. Collaboration software, if installed, is imposed top down with insufficent training and motivation to the individual employee.

This leads to a more general point about knowledge management and collaboration - technology and tools are seen as an organisational phenomenon. The focus should be on the individual, the organisation will follow. A true bottom-up approach. Managing personal information, 'individual knowledge space' first, before a company gets to see benefit of KM and collaboration technology.

Blog is an individual tool with impact both on the blogger and the reader/commenter. It can act as a filter of captured and evolving knowledge, it is a content management system that is sufficiently simple to be flexible and sufficiently robust to be effective. The features that make a blog an ideal tool for emergent knowledge management is speed, flexibility, interactivity, and ability to spread information outward.

Blogs can also be business intelligence tools - an early warning system to alert organisations to developments that require a response. Every signal is a noise, only when it is filtered it becomes information. Blog is a format with informal, loose and simple enough structure to capure signals, but structured enough to give emergence to data-patterns i.e. information and knowledge. Blogs as early warning systems would work in larger organisations where natural communication flows have been disrrupted. It is a perfect tool to fit the gap created by remote business processes. Blogs create and aggregate enormous amount of pre-filtered background noise. They can also turn your employees into trusted hubs to reconnect to social network inside and outside the organisation.

Blog as a project management tool - a way to capture and maintain unstructured input in a structure but informal envirnoment. This is where interactivity is paramount. For example, I have set up and ran two our project blogs, which have proven an amazing virtual resource for all project members. The most amazing effect occurred after a couple of months of blogging for one of the project blogs. We had an impromptu meeting with one of the people who travels widely and is hard to pin down but who had been reading the blog regularly. As a result, we could start talking about the project instantenously without presentations, documents as we were all aware of what the others think and know. This is because all the information, links, ideas, articles etc had been described or linked to on the blog. We were all on the same blog page, so to speak.

Here are some examples of corporations that use internal blogs: InfoWorld, DaimlerChrysler, Sun Microsystems, IBM and, of course, Microsoft with around 1,000 employees with blogs. That's what I call a good start, but there is a way to go...

Source: CEO Bloggers' Club

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