Many companies will want to use the blog not only to communicate with customers, but also to communicate with one another internally within a group. Traction Software's Lloyd sees blogs as a meaningful alternative to email. He says, "Rather than sending a monthly or weekly email cc'd to 1,000 people with a Word file attached, you get a continuously updated stream with a link back to interactive detail and the ability to ask a question by clicking and adding a comment inline."
Lloyd says, "In business in most instances, conversations take place within groups that have a particular goal or purpose." He notes that when his company gets involved with a customer, they look at a process that is communications-intensive by nature such as market research and competitive intelligence. These are people who are doing research about competitive analysis and responding to questions from sales, marketing, and other individuals who need to access this type of information. Lloyd says that "By giving them weblog technology, they have an easier way of gathering and organizing information from all sources, and by presenting it as a ‘Web newspaper' (Traction's business weblog metaphor), organized by time and topic, they have an easier way to produce this material, and the people on the receiving end have an easier way to see and use the information." Among their customers using it for just this purpose, Lloyd reports, is Verizon, the telecommunications company.
imakenews' Goodwin says they are using blogs internally to have dialogs about improving customer service. She says, "We use blogs internally on specific topics such as customer support issues. We encourage employees to engage in good conversation about ways to improve our customer support, in ways to improve our products because everyone is touching a customer at different points."
It's too soon to say where exactly blogs will fit in the business setting (if at all), but they have the potential to change the way businesses interact with one another and with customers and other external parties, and this raises some interesting issues for companies, especially those in financial services. If blogs must be compelling and more than marketing speak, and at the same time organic and interesting to induce readers to keep coming back, it raises a dilemma for companies. How can they control blogs, as they do email and instant messages, while allowing the free flow of information that keeps blogs interesting?
Goza at Microsoft says she doesn't like to make predictions, but she says she could actually see blogging becoming part of applications in the same way the Print function is. She says, "You just expect now in any application that when you click File, you drag down, there is going to be Print. I can see it being Blog. Do you want to blog this image? Do you want to blog this document? It just depends on how it's going to take off."
Companies Featured in This Article
Traction Software www.tractionsoftware.com