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Techdirt Inc.

Enterprise Blogging

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White Paper

Michael Masnick
888.930.9272 ext. 85
mike@techdirt.com

Prashant Agarwal
888.930.9272 ext. 86
prashant@techdirt.com
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Table of Contents
What is a Blog? ............................................................. 3

Enterprise Blogging .................................................... 3

An Enterprise Blog Case Study .............................. 5

Implementing An Enterprise Blog........................ 6

Conclusion ....................................................................... 8

Appendix I: The Evolution of Blogging............... 9

Appendix II: Types of Blogs.................................. 11

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Enterprise Blogging
July 1, 2002

What is a Blog?
The word “blog” is short for “weblog,” which is loosely defined as a web
page that an individual or a group of individuals add content to on a
regular basis. Blogs started as online public diaries with the random
thoughts and observations of the blog’s owner(s), referred to as bloggers.
Blogs can include links to other web sites that are relevant to the
blogger’s diary entries or posts. Over time people have discovered new
uses for the blog format. In particular, blogs are the perfect format to
publish brief news summaries and commentary. Although not everyone
agrees on the definition of blogging (or even that the term should be used
at all), it has become the commonly accepted word to describe these
types of websites. This white paper will discuss how companies can take
advantage of blogs to save time and money, while improving their
strategic positioning. The appendixes provides a brief discussion of the
evolution of blogging and descriptions of and links to some existing blogs.

Enterprise Blogging
One of the most important assets in building a successful business is
corporate intelligence. Companies need to monitor, understand and share
mountains of external information regarding their competitive
environment, target markets and technology trends. The problem isn’t a
lack of information, but rather assessing, analyzing, and synthesizing the
vast quantity of information available, while keeping pace with regular
new developments.

Enterprises have two types of information


they need to manage: internal and Companies that place a
“high emphasis” on
external. Most knowledge management
competitive intelligence
and corporate portal products do a good earn an average of
job organizing internal data and tools, $1.24/share annually,
making them easy to access and boosting while those that don’t,
lose $0.07/share.
worker productivity. But, how do they
manage external information? This information is more critical because it
affects relationships with customers, partners, investors and, most
importantly, internal decision makers.

That’s where the enterprise blog comes in. It provides companies with an
easy-to-use tool to deal with external information. The enterprise blog
has three key features for enterprise users:

o Quick To Read – Blogs aggregate information and make it relevant to


their audiences in an easy-to-read format. Enterprise users can scan a
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customized blog and feel confident that they have a good sense of
what’s happening in their industry. Thus, users of enterprise blogs are
more informed in less time than non-users.
o Central Repository - Blogs put information in one central location,
making it easily accessible to large groups of users. Information is
archived in a searchable and sortable format for future reference. This
becomes very useful when an enterprise blog user needs to look up
some information from last month, or wants to aggregate all
information available about a particular company or trend.
o Knowledge Community – Blogs let groups share, discuss, annotate and
amend blog content. This interactive component highlights the value
of the information and quickly and efficiently identifies action items.

These features can be integrated with an existing knowledge management


tool or corporate portal. But, the enterprise blog is more than just a tool.
It’s an approach to collecting and sharing actionable information. It’s only
as valuable as the content it contains. The value of the information is
determined by three factors:

o Sources – Content must come from a well-balanced set of sources that


represent the core industry of the blog audience as well as related
industries. This ensures that the blog provides a broad yet relevant
perspective.
o Filtering – The sources must be monitored and filtered daily or weekly
to extract the most relevant pieces of information, avoid unrelated
information and avoid unnecessary repetition.
o Analysis – The content needs to be put in context of the blog’s
audience to explain the impact it has on them. A useful blog entry not
only presents the information, but also points out why that piece of
information is important (or unimportant).

Maintaining an enterprise blog with valuable


The enterprise blog is the
content requires resources. It takes people
perfect vehicle for taking
and tools to find the information, and then
the data most critical to
strategic decision filter and summarize it. A technology-only
making, and turning itsolution might be good at gathering and
into valuable, actionable
storing information, but the real value is in
information.
the filtering and analysis. Thus, it is the
human intelligence behind an enterprise blog that makes it truly useful.
Filtering assures that the content you see is relevant and valuable. The
analysis goes one step further and adds context, explaining why
something is important specifically to your company and maybe even an
individual job function.

Investing in information management and making information actionable


has a proven return on investment:

According to a 1995 study by professors at the University of North Texas,


companies that place a “high emphasis” on competitive intelligence earn
an average of $1.24/share annually, while those that don’t, lose
$0.07/share. Furthermore, the study found that those “high emphasis”
companies outperformed others in all key financial measures followed by

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the study: average sales, market share, and profitability. The report
showed that companies with CI programs in 1993 had average sales of
$9.80 billion compared to their industry counterparts who averaged sales
of $1.02 billion. Furthermore CI companies had an average market of
5.4% as opposed to 0.8% for non-CI companies in the same industries.
SCIP.org1 and Time Magazine2 provide more information on the study.

The enterprise blog takes the benefits of corporate intelligence and puts it
into a truly useful format. Too much data can be harder to deal with than
too little. The enterprise blog is the perfect vehicle for taking the data
most critical to strategic decision making, and turning it into valuable,
actionable information.

An Enterprise Blog Case Study


SpeechWorks International (SPWX) is a leading provider of software
products and professional services that enable enterprises and
communications carriers to offer automated, speech-activated services
over any telephone. The company competes in a rapidly emerging
technology space where they have to stay informed about new players,
competitors, customers, technologies, suppliers and partners on a daily
basis. Before implementing an enterprise blog, SpeechWorks relied on a
number of keyword-based news services to find the external information
they needed. However, users quickly found that those services turned up
so many false positives and repetitive stories that they were spending too
much time filtering information and not enough time taking action on
important news.

By implementing an outsourced enterprise blog from Techdirt Corporate


Intelligence, SpeechWorks employees receive all the news they need to
know on a daily basis and leave the work of finding, filtering, summarizing
and analyzing to a dedicated team of professionals. The Techdirt
enterprise blog team talked to SpeechWorks senior executives, marketing
staff, and sales teams to find out what was important to them, and what
news they wanted to know. Based on the feedback, the blog’s writers and
editors cut down the news to easily digestible bits - including analysis - so
that SpeechWorks employees can stay better informed than their
competitors, and are ready to act quickly.

1
SCIP.org - http://www.scip.org/ci/faq_research.asp
2
Time Magazine -
http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/buylink/oldlink/0,11397,1101020325-
218323,00.html

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SpeechWorks’ Enterprise Blog

People throughout SpeechWorks use the blog on a daily basis. Marketing,


business development, sales, and PR staff from all levels find that it keeps
them better informed and allows them to do their jobs better. Each day
the enterprise blog team makes sure that SpeechWorks is informed on the
news, trends and technologies the company needs to follow to perform
better. Speechworks has come to think of its enterprise blog as a
dedicated personal analyst. But unlike an analyst, the enterprise blog is
focused just on Speechworks and its specific needs, not the entire speech-
recognition industry.

Implementing An Enterprise Blog


Creating an enterprise blog is an investment of people, time, and money.
But, as mentioned above, it has many quantifiable benefits.

Basic Process

o People
o The first component is a dedicated individual or team
(depending on the size of the business), to handle all the
finding, filtering, summarizing and analysis of information.

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o The individual or team needs a sufficient level of domain
expertise as well as technical and research skills.
o The team needs to be trained to know what information to look
for and where, how to use the blogging system fully, how to
take large amounts of information and reduce it to the most
useful elements.
o Needs and Sources
o The team needs to survey the organization to determine the
type of information the employees need. In this way, the team
can assess what information it needs to look for and which
sources to monitor. Sources can range from free and
subscription based news services to industry contacts.
o Tools
o With the needs and sources identified, the team needs to
identify what tools are required, research potential options and
make an investment in the necessary software and hardware.
o As mentioned above, there are a number of blog tools available
online. Most are designed for standalone websites. They do
allow quick and easy blog creation, but are not designed to
easily scale or to integrate with existing intranet systems or
portals.
o Testing
o With the people and tools in place, the enterprise blog team will
need a testing period to develop a process to gather and
analyze information and publish it the blog.
o Launch
o Depending on the size of the company, an enterprise blog can
take anywhere from 2 days (outsourced) to 3 months (in-
house) to launch.

In-house vs. Outsourced Enterprise Blog


Building an enterprise blog is a technically straightforward process. There
is no shortage of information and tools. The biggest challenge is the
finding, filtering, summarizing and analysis of information. Without the
right human resources maintaining the blog and keeping it fresh with
actionable content, it doesn’t matter how much time and effort is spent on
building the blog system.

In comparing in-house to outsourced enterprise blog solutions, it’s


important to understand all the costs involved (people, tools and
information) and make sure the chosen solution will have a long-term
impact. Although an in-house solution may seem cheaper initially because
of upfront costs, it is actually often less expensive to outsource an
enterprise blog. The human resources, technology resources, and other
necessary components are costly. . A firm that specializes in providing
enterprise blogs already has the tools, the resources, the expertise, and
the economies of scale to offer a solution that lets a company easily take
advantage of an enterprise blog. By outsourcing, companies find they can
have an effective enterprise blog up and running faster, and they have the
commitment of a dedicated team devoted to maintaining the flow of
information and analysis.

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Companies with dedicated corporate intelligence departments probably
have the basic elements to create a useful blog, but will still require some
time, effort and resources to set up the blog, create a process, and to
maintain it on a regular basis. Publishing the output is sometimes
possible with an existing enterprise collaboration tool. But often the
companies that need an enterprise blog the most-- companies in highly
competitive, rapidly evolving industries -- don’t have the resources or
time to build and maintain a truly useful enterprise blog. For these users,
outsourcing is a quick and affordable solution.

In choosing an outsourced enterprise blog provider, it helps to choose


carefully. After all, the information they provide will be mission-critical.
The provider should have a strong history of providing enterprise and
informational blogs and have subject matter expertise that serves the
blog’s audience. Also, be aware of the type, depth and breadth of
information the blog audience will require, and make sure the provider can
reach that level of synthesis. A good enterprise blog outsourcer can help
determine the needs of their clients, and deliver a solution that meets
those needs.

Conclusion
Over the past few years, blogs have evolved rapidly into a very useful tool
for many individuals and corporations alike. Companies are just now
beginning to capitalize on the emergence of the enterprise blog. The tools
and the format create an incredibly valuable way to make sure a company
is on the best strategic path – quickly monitoring, tracking, and acting on
all the information that affects it on a daily basis.

Having an enterprise blog provides a strategic advantage over the


competition, and helps companies gain market share and respond faster
to their rapidly changing business environments. With the advent of
outsourced enterprise blogging, any company can now maximize the value
they obtain from tracking important external information.

If you would like to find out more about ways Techdirt Corporate
Intelligence can help your company take advantage of an enterprise blog,
please contact us:

enterpriseblogging@techdirt.com
1.888.930.9272

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Appendix I: The Evolution of Blogging
Blogging dates back to the earliest days of the web, but only recently has
it been recognized as a distinct form of web publishing. In this section we
present a brief evolution of blogs. If you are interested in a more detailed
history of blogs, take a look at An Incomplete Annotated History of
Weblogs3.

One of the earliest destinations on the web was the NCSA What’s New4
page. It was a simple list updated daily with links and descriptions of new
web sites.

Eventually the “What’s New” format


couldn’t keep up with the number of
websites popping up, and commercial
web directories such as Yahoo!,
WebCrawler, and Lycos took on the job of
cataloging the web. Blogs draw their
basic layout from the “What’s New”
format. They typically contain dated
entries with links to new and interesting
sites on the web. But rather than trying
to track the whole web, they present a
filtered view of the web based on the interest of the blog owner(s).

A good example of an early personal blog


is Justin Hall’s Justin’s Links from the
Underground5 (now just Justin’s Links).
Hall’s page was part “What’s New” page,
and part personal diary. He would
pepper links with his thoughts and
pepper his thoughts with links to sites
that he thought were relevant.

3
An Incomplete Annotated History of Weblogs - http://www.chymes.org/hyper/weblogs.html
4
NCSA What’s New - http://archive.ncsa.uiuc.edu/SDG/Software/Mosaic/Docs/whats-new.html
5
Justin’s Links from the Underground - http://www.links.net/

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The next phase in blogging came with
Slashdot6, the product of two geeks who
wanted to share links about all things
geek (linux, open source software, cool
new technology, etc.). Slashdot’s
contribution was two-fold. First, it
included the ability to post comments in
response to the links they published.
Suddenly Slashdot was more than a
daily dose of interesting links; it was a
community of people actively discussing
the content the site linked to. Slashdot
now has such a strong following that
there is something known the “Slashdot effect.” This occurs when a link is
posted on Slashdot and so many Slashdot readers click on the link around
the same time, it overwhelms the web server and no one can get to the
posted site. If you have a cool technology or idea, you know you’ve
arrived when you’ve been “slashdotted.”

Slashdot was created by two computer science students who wrote their
own software, Slashcode, to make publishing Slashdot easy. Although
HTML is easy to use, it’s very tedious and time-consuming to build and
manage a web site with lots of pages and to keep the site fresh with new
content on a daily basis. To facilitate this process, Slashdot’s developers
made Slashcode freely downloadable to anyone who wanted to create
their own Slashdot-style web site.

While Slashcode was good for the technically savvy, it was Blogger that
really popularized blogging due to its incredible simplicity. Blogger, from
Pyra Labs, revolutionized blogging by making it easy for absolutely anyone
to set up their own blog on their own website. While other similar
systems were launched around the same time, none caught the general
Internet population’s attention quite as much as Blogger. Soon, blogs of
all kinds started appearing all over the web.

Some of the more popular tools are:


o Slashcode7 – The one that started it all. Now a full-blown open source project.
o Blogger8 – This is a web-based system that made blogging easy enough for
non-technical folks.
o Greymatter9 – This is a very easy-to-use and customizable system that users
install on their own web server.
o Movable Type10 – Similar to Greymatter, but with many more features.
o Radio UserLand11 – Desktop software to set up and manage a blog. Includes a
news aggregator to monitor and blog news headlines.

6
Slashdot - http://slashdot.org/
7
Slashcode - http://slashcode.com/
8
Blogger – http://www.blogger.com/
9
GreyMatter – http://noahgrey.com/greysoft/
10
Movable Type – http://www.movabletype.org/
11
Userland Radio – http://radio.userland.com/

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Appendix II: Types of Blogs
Today the web is teeming with blogs of all sorts. Personal blogs are the
most prevalent, but people are developing a number of other uses for
blogs.

kottke.org12

Personal blogs are online personal web pages in a diary format. They use
the web to add context or background to the authors’ personal thoughts
and interests.

techdirt.com13

Technology blogs tend to point readers to new developments in


technology and help break through the technology news clutter.

12
kottke.org – http://www.kottke.org/
13
techdirt.com – http://www.techdirt.com/

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andrewsullivan.com14

Political blogs consist of views and commentary from individuals and well-
known pundits. They became especially popular after September 11, as
people discovered blogs were a useful way of expressing their opinions
about the terrorist attacks.

Dan Gillmor’s eJournal15

Journalist blogs report information, support it with additional info and help
make sense of the news reported on the web and in other media.

Journalist blogs drew more attention to blogging. There is a continuing


debate about what role blogs play in journalism, and if they are legitimate
tools for journalists. In fact, in the fall of 2002, the University of
California at Berkeley's Graduate School of Journalism will include a class
on blogging16.

Regardless of their topic, what makes all these sites blogs is that they
share a similar approach and format no matter what the subject. In its
own way each says, “Here’s something I think is

14
andrewsullivan.com – http://www.andrewsullivan.com/
15
Dan Gillmor’s eJournal -
http://www.siliconvalley.com/mld/siliconvalley/business/columnists/dan_gillmor/ejournal/
16
Blogging Goes Legit, Sort Of - http://www.wired.com/news/school/0,1383,52992,00.html

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interesting, cool, important, etc., and why I think it is so. Go check it out
for yourself.”

Each of these blogs is a knowledge-management tool for the web with a


unique focus and perspective. But the real value comes not from the
format or the quality of the tool used to publish the blog. To stand out, a
blog must go beyond format and technology and have something
meaningful to say.

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