Tuesday, October 17, 2006

What Could Possibly Be Wrong With Corporate Blogging?

Not all I/T Architect-bloggers are as fortunate as I in that my employer actually encourages us to blog. (See my very first post in this blog.) I'll reproduce a quote from the IBM employee blogging guidelines I quoted back then. "It is very much in IBM's interest – and, we believe, in each IBMer's own – to be aware of this sphere of information, interaction and idea exchange."

Obviously, not all corporations embrace this kind of thinking. Dan Gillmore points out two very different scenarios in " Corporate Blogging: What Could Go Wrong? The first is the obvious concern about someone leaking new product information and potentially giving a competitor an early start on catching up. But the second scenario was more interesting. It was about the cost of NOT using blogging and NOT being clear and transparent about problems in the open media. He makes an interesting point about not getting out in front of "bad news" and actually engaging potential customers in solving the problem.

"The real danger is not letting your employees harness the full power of an interactive, edge-in communications medium. If you keep the reins too tight, you won't reap the benefits of informed and passionate readers and users. And sometimes, if you're not communicating freely with your readers and users, bad news can catch them by surprise."
I have to admit I see his logic... especially in the area of product development. If I was trying to come up with the next generation Apple iPod I am sure I could recruit an army of passionate bloggers to help me. But what if client A has a whole bunch of fuzzy business requirements, a hodge-podge of technology accumualted from their merger history, and a minefield of political considerations. How would a crowd on the outside be able to digest all the client-specific nuances of the situation? And would the client even want their client-specific details out in the open?

Still...I've heard of the popular business book, The Wisdom of Crowds: Why the Many Are Smarter Than the Few and How Collective Wisdom Shapes Business, Economies, Societies and Nations devoted to the innovative use of ideas from outside the company. I haven't read it yet, but maybe I need to. I'd be curious to hear if any of my readers have had success in using blogging to make better one-of-a-kind solutions for clients.

The postings on this site are my own and don't necessarily represent IBM's positions, strategies, or opinions.


3 comments:

Mark Masterson said...

Great post -- you inspired me: http://www.jroller.com/page/MasterMark?entry=blogging_at_csc

Philip Hartman said...

Mark,
Thanks for stopping by. I'll check out your URL too.

Phil

Easton Ellsworth said...

One of the strongest arguments you can make for a company to blog is to show that company an influential blog or set of blogs that speak negatively about it.