I am doing a couple presentations on collaboration and social software at the Enterprise Architecture Summit in London this week, just before the Portal, Content and Collaboration Summit. I just got out of a roundtable on corporate blogging, which raised several interesting issues and a few solutions.
The most striking observation, although not unexpected, was that they looked at corporate blogging in very different ways, depending on their industry and what they want to achieve. One participant from a broadcasting company was exploring how to weave blogs through their normal activities. Blogs are well on their way to becoming yet another channel they use to communicate the news they collect.
A pharmaceutical company had very different concerns, mainly concerning compliance and control issues. Their regulated industry put very different demands on how to blog. Finally, a financial services company was looking at various aspects, including communicating with customers as well as encouraging internal exchanges. Very different issues arise depending on what the enterprise wants to achieve with their blogging initiatives. All agreed that the technical issues were not really a big problem anymore. They had access to more than enough blogging technology, at least from an EA perspective.
One of the more interesting issues raised by everyone at the session has to do with managing the different personas that people inhabit every day. When someone blogs publicly, are they writing for themselves, or as a representative of the company? Even on an ostensibly private blog, it can be difficult to separate the professional and the private. Different employment relationships muddy the waters as well. When a freelancer or part time employee says something, does it matter less than when employees say it? The level of influence the enterprise will need to assert over these sometimes private/usually professional postings will differ by person, industry, role and company.
I like coming to these conferences which are not 100% in my coverage area, because the participants often have a different perspective than the customers I commonly talk with. Enterprise architects often deal with collaboration issues, but they also usually have a broader brief. The wider field of operations they deal with often delivers different views. Rather than adoption or technical issues, they are asking how it affects the enterprise as a whole, and what policies and plans to put in place.
#GartnerPCC picks up tomorrow. I’m also looking forward to going deeper into these issues with collaboration practitioners.