Dark Blogs Case Study 01 – A European Pharmaceutical Group

I’m pleased to announce the arrival of the first Dark Blogs case study, examining the use of Traction‘s TeamPage enterprise weblog software for a competitive intelligence project within a large European pharmaceutical group. The case study examines the reasons why blogs where chosen, project planning, implementation, integration with other business systems, editorial process, launch and promotion, training and adoption.

This case study is released as a 28 page PDF (2.3 MB) under an Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike Creative Commons licence for you to download and distribute.

I’d been thinking over the last six months or so that it is pretty easy for those of us on the outside to make assumptions about how blogs can be used behind the firewall, what implementation and adoption problems exist and how they can be solved. As far as I could see, the only real way to get this information was to do detailed case studies, and this is the first in a series that I am writing.

Once I had agreement from Traction to sponsor their client’s case study, and once I’d had a good think about what sort of questions I wanted to answer, I sent over a short questionnaire to the client to find out what the situation was. I then spent an hour or so on the phone, interviewing the pharma group’s CIO and followed that up by grilling Traction’s Jordan Frank at length to fill in some of the technical gaps.

This case study is based on that data and on subsequent email and phone conversations. I have been as thorough and as objective as possible, but if there are any questions you have, either about information you think is missing or points you’d like clarified, please do leave them in the comments and I’ll do my best to address them if I can.

Finally, it’s a bit of a shame that the case study had to be anonymous, but that turned out to be the deal. Companies can be sensitive and secretive sometimes, despite the fact that we would all like them to be open and transparent. It’s the way the cookie crumbles.

Below the break: The Executive Summary.

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Dark Blogs: The Use of Blogs in Business

When people think about ‘business blogs’, they usually think about blogs used as marketing tools by businesses who want to open a dialogue with the public. Thus discussions about business blogging tend to revolve around issues like authenticity, transparency, honesty and voice.

There is, however, a ‘dark matter’ of blogs which we know exists but which we cannot observe directly. These ‘dark blogs’ are those used internally by companies for purposes such as team management, event logging, cross-shift communications or knowledge sharing. Because dark blogs are behind the firewall we can’t see them, can’t evaluate their usefulness or find out what hurdles had to be jumped in their implementation.

Yet, because blogs are easy to use, flexible and cost-effective, they are an obvious choice for business use. Coupled with RSS feeds, aggregators, and other social software, it is possible to create a powerful knowledge sharing system which can be used with minimal training and IT outlay.

For the last few months I have been talking to a number of blog software vendors and blog technology companies, along with businesses that are using blogs behind the firewall, and have gained their support for a new research project – Dark Blogs.

In Dark Blogs I shall be interviewing businesses from a variety of industry sectors to find out how they use blogs, RSS feeds, aggregators and other social software; what challenges they faced and how they surmounted them; and the impact that blogging has had on their business.

The case studies, some of which will include a podcast/webcast, will be published here on Strange Attractor under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike license. The first one is already underway, so keep your eyes open for it!

If you are interested in being a sponsor or a case study, please email me and I will send you a prospectus.