Blog & Teknologi Manusia (4)

Thursday July 21, 2005
The business of blogging
By Brigitte Rozario

IF you think blogging is a fad which only tech people with too much time on their hands indulge in, think again.
Blogs are being used by communities of software developers to share information. They are being used by big corporations as a way of sharing information with their customers while getting immediate feedback on products. Even the small companies are using blogs as a way of reaching out to customers and potential customers.
Are blogs today what the dotcoms were to businesses in the 1990s?
Making a connection
Butt Wai Choon, managing director of Microsoft Malaysia, says it is a great way for Microsoft’s employees to connect with a broader world.
“Microsoft is about people. As a technology company, we’re glad that our employees are able to ride the new information wave to express their thoughts quite candidly about their work here, our products and more.
“We’ve set out some basic guidelines for employees who want to start their own blogs, to ensure that (what they write complies with) the company’s human resources and information management policies. But, by and large, these blogs have been growing for more than a year now,” says Butt.
Julian Goh, senior marketing manager at Oracle Corporation Malaysia, agrees that blogs are an effective way to connect.
“(Blogs are) about interaction and influence and (they) create communities. They provide employees an avenue for sharing knowledge, information and opinions with colleagues, partners, distributors and customers,” says Goh.
Although Oracle Malaysia does not have blogs at its website, the company still believes in the value of blogs as a platform for business.
“Corporate blogs provide organisations with the ability to connect with their audiences on a more personal level, build trust, obtain feedback and foster stronger relationships. At the same time it also extends the marketing reach and brand to new audiences almost overnight,” says Goh.
Share and share alike
Like Oracle Malaysia, Hewlett-Packard Malaysia also does not have any blogs at its local website. However, the company is supportive of staff blogs. In addition, HP provides bloghosting for staff through its intranet as well as through its global site for executives and through its technical blogs (http://devresource.hp.com/blogs).
Says T.F. Chong, managing director of HP Malaysia: “We see the benefits of blogging primarily from a knowledge management standpoint and also in terms of solutions positioning – especially for HP subject matter experts who share their professional viewpoints with peers and other interested readers.
“HP has found that blogs are a great way to directly link our experts and leaders with our customers and the public – e.g. blog links can be integrated into HP marketing eNewsletters, for example. In turn, our customers get to know HP, our products and solutions, and our staff get direct feedback.”
IBM Malaysia is another multinational company that encourages its staff to use blogs and other forms of online collaboration tools to have “webjams” – to help employees learn and share information.
In fact, Suhaimi Sulong, IBM Malaysia’s Director of Human Resources, says that “IBMers have been blogging internally for several years now, and we’re one of the first organisations to provide guidance to employees on how to blog responsibly on external sites. These guidelines are designed to encourage all IBMers to contribute to this growing and increasingly important public platform for the sharing of ideas and innovation,” he says.

According to Suhaimi, IBM’s blogging guidelines include common-sense suggestions such as respecting copyright and financial disclosure laws; being personable and interesting; and respecting the views of others.
Apparently, among some of IBM’s global bloggers is the company’s vice-president of Technical Strategy and Innovation, Irving Wladawsky-Berger, whose blog can be found at http://irvingwb.typepad.com.
Suhaimi says that IBM’s blogging guidelines were actually created through another online collaborative tool – the wiki.
“Wiki” is the Hawaiian word for “quick” and it is an online application that enables people to add content as they would in a forum. Unlike a forum though, people can also edit the content online in a wiki.
According to Suhaimi, employee blogging has a great potential for enhancing innovation.
Credible source
Cheam Tat Inn, managing director of Sun Microsystems Malaysia Sdn Bhd believes that a blog initiated and supported by a company may give a certain credibility and focus to the subject matter.
“When you read these blogs, you know the blogger is who he says he is. The second benefit is you know you are not reading something crafted by the company’s corporate communications team but the opinion of the individual, and sometimes their opinion is refreshingly different from that of a press release.
“Let’s draw an example from the legal arena. When the court makes a decision we know what the decision is, but wouldn’t it be interesting to be able to read the dissenting judge’s opinion?” says Cheam.
He however points out that blogs do not actually have any standard format, guidelines or code of ethics.
“Here lies a possible loophole for exploitation – how do we know that the blog is not written by a team of clever corporate communications experts?” asks Cheam.
Butt of Microsoft agrees, and adds that it is hard to quantify how blogs will affect a company’s return on investment.
However, he says, “blogs are powerful tools to solicit direct and candid customer feedback about a certain product or service – and that gives reason for a company, like Microsoft to improve.
After all, agility is reinvention.”

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