There's more happening with corporate blogs than the career-threatening blunders that tend to grab headlines and amuse us all.
Serious companies are taking blogs seriously, and in the process are finding surprisingly innovative uses for an application that many still view as a plaything.
Robin Hopper, CEO of iUpload, says his business is one of a growing number of companies looking to cash in on the heightened interest in corporate blogging. Hopper's company recently trumpeted a super-sized deal with McDonald's that will find the junk-food giant initially using iUpload's blogging technology for internal corporate communications. However, Hopper says the day may soon arrive when your McDonald's server asks, "Would you like a blog with that burger?" While the corporate communications piece is still only in pilot mode, the grander vision would have blogs playing a role in marketing at the franchise level. McDonald's serves 50 million customers a day.
A more fully baked example, Hopper says, is Stillwater National Bank, an Oklahoma-based lending institution that has adopted iUpload's blog technology to speed up paperwork on large commercial loans.
"When they hit certain risk thresholds, they need to parcel that out to different partners, and email just doesn't work for that kind of thing; the documents are very large," he says. "They were actually FedExing these things around to manage the loan participation opportunities."
As a result, completing these deals was taking four to six weeks, Hopper says.
"They came to us thinking they needed to implement some kind of personalised database engine and content-management type of application to pull this off. We actually did it with blogs. They've gone from four to six weeks down to two to three days to close out these opportunities," Hopper says.
So in that context, what's the difference between a blog and an extranet?
"Absolutely nothing," Hopper says. "Blogs are a drop-dead simple way to get content from people who we couldn't get content from otherwise. What is important in terms of corporate adoption is to stop thinking about blogs as a technology or blogs in and of themselves, but think of them as a tactic to empower a whole new level of authors in or outside your company. And through the aggregation process, you have the ability to deliver the right content to people at the right time and in the right context."
Hopper says companies serious about corporate blogging are demanding granular controls over approval and management processes, easy integration with CRM applications and the means to maintain regulatory compliance. What they don't want are more information silos or another sign-in process.
Sure, they're concerned about employees blogging off the cliff, but the risk/reward analyses are falling squarely in favour of all this being more than a fad.