Corporate blogging isn’t easy… And Forrester analyst Josh Bernoff published an interesting report about why people don’t trust most company blogs. In fact, looking closer at Josh’s comments, it’s not corportae blogs but corporate speak that clients don’t trust.
But this is no news to us. We’ve been going on about that for donkeys’ years. So now is the time that corporations react differently and start real conversations with their ecosystems (in b2b, it’s not just about clients, an average 21 persons are taking part in any one b2b decision in large 1000+ employee companies according to a Marketing Sherpa study).
So, what are the corporate blogs which can be trusted? Here’s the Blog Council’s take on the phenomenon, and guess what?! The Orange Business Live blog is one of them. Cheers to our writers!
The Blog Council | Here are a few trustworthy corporate blogs
It occurred to me in the past few weeks that there was some kind of missing link in the evolutionary state of the twenty first century corporation towards interactivity. As expressed in an earlier article entitled “15 golden rules for web 2.0” there is a strong requirement for large enterprises to launch interactive marketing initiatives – be they called 2.0, pinko marketing or anything else for that matter – not just because of the buzz word but because there is growing consciousness of the need to engage in better, less top-down discussions with one’s clients. The whole world is awash with concepts like wikinomics (link to past posts on this subject, click here) and co-marketing, but the real issue is not about whether this is required but in actual fact, how to make the rubber meet the road.
And that’s where the missing link is to be found. There is the concept and even the urgent need on the one hand and on the other hand, there is a handful of complex, esoteric tools which managers have heard of but rarely grasp. At the end of the day there is nothing really complex about a blog or an ideagora, but you can’t blame someone whose responsibility is business, who has never worked on an interactive website to come up with clear answers about questions he only discovered a while ago. So this is where we have a role to play, where our ability to bridge the gap between IT and business can actually make a difference.
A friend of mine who is also in charge of a large enterprise portal – his is for a large National retail bank but the issues are really similar to a large extent – was telling me about blogging in his bank. At first, there was some sort of fear, or even disbelief that blogs could lead to anything concrete for the Bank. But one day the General Manager listened to a program on the national radio and he grasped that there was something happening and when he came back to the office, he asked his people about their current plans for using blogs at the Bank to initiate discussions with its clients (and mainly its young clients). His question was echoed all around the top floors until it came all the way back down to the shop-floor and my friend was in a position to do something about it. Actually, not everyone liked what they saw, because client conversations can sometimes be very direct and to be worthwhile, even – or even mostly – not so good comments have to be retained (he had to teach them that and quite a few gnashed their teeth about it). Indeed, they are often the ones which can lead to the most interesting product/service improvements.
But not all corporations are ready to face that music which such good humour and besides, I am not really in favour of big bang approaches to change. There is so much resistance to it in all countries and all sectors that I believe it’s much easier and more effective to apply a staged-approach to change and interactivity. This is why I designed the following interactivity matrix. It was very useful to me and instrumental in selling – smoothly – the idea of expert Corporate blogging. As a matter of fact, this is a first step towards interactivity. It can serve as a test for more interactivity and more adventurous ventures. It can also be beneficial in terms of visibility and traffic gain.
As far as B2B is concerned, there are even areas where interactivity can be instilled for a much lower price and risk-free. This is what I have entitled shared extranet collaboration spaces on which client user groups or even extended sales teams (ie teams including clients’ and partners’ representatives) can exchange files, share information on wiki pages, and even initiate discussion threads in forums. To that end I implemented an online version of Microsoft Sharepoint which enables such teams to collaborate on the web, freely but securely (we even have a SSL connection implemented to enforce data encryption). Extended teams are quite enthusiastic about this, there is no risk at all and management is also very supportive of the idea. I think this is a great step towards interactivity. Ideagoras and full interactivity with clients is of the course the ultimate goal, but they also require maturity and learning curves. The reason why this matrix was so useful is that it helped me fill the gaps which needed to be filled urgently and it helped me buy more time to better implement more ambitious initiatives in the future.
in a Wall Street Journal article entitled Web Scammer Targets Senior U.S. Executives is an amazing account of a Mr Stewart’s chase for the uncovering of a Romanian scammer, complete with his extraordinary biography (a guy who 15 years ago was mopping the floor in McDonald’s restaurants and had barely a dime and couldn’t even buy a computer, and has now become a world leading expert in computer security). In the article, Mr Stewart explains one phase at a time how he was able to retrace the steps of a scammer named Raynor, despite the decoys the latter had deployed in China. Unfortunately, the chase is not over, and Raynor is still on the run.
But this article is also very interesting for another reason. It describes how the scammer did get important information from top executives from online social networks like facebook or linkedIn. This poses a very serious threat to the development of Web 2.0/3.0 and collaboration on the Internet. Collaboration/wikinomics imposes transparency, whereas security is just the other way round. If harmful wrongdoers are using social networks to gain important information and then compose very elaborate phishing scams to steal personal details and money from senior executives, the latter will eventually cease to use social networks to exchange data in a transparent manner.
Unfortunately, I think it must be very hard to prevent such things from happening since there is virtually no sure way of ascertaining the authenticity of personal details in such social networks sites. Lastly, the article gives important information regarding the categories and the percentages of data which is stolen online (see diagram).
This document was originally designed to address the questions which were sent to me by large customers wanting to launch web 2.0 initiatives. Very often these clients wanted to jump on the bandwagon, but they didn’t know how to do it. They required help and guidance, even to understand the very meaning of Web 2.0.
Evaluating what should be done as part of such Web 2.0 initiatives with large organisations implies that we rethink the definition of Web 2.0 (see O’reilly’s 2.0 meme map to start with). An exec summary of this definition is provided hereafter. More than often, we have noticed that the main motivation for large corporations to jump on the bandwagon is to keep up with the Joneses.
In this document we will describe the main principles and the main reasons why you should or should not opt for a Web 2.0 initiative. Large corporations are getting increasingly interested in launching 2.0 initiatives. To a certain extent we can relate that to the fact that an increasing number of success stories are relayed by the press and that most of them are related to impressive buzz marketing operations, which are seemingly easy to replicate. The entire world is full of the concept of Web 2.0, so the idea is often not to miss the opportunity to do something about it. All of this is very tempting and hard to resist. However, companies should never launch 2.0 websites just for the sake of it.
Indeed, it requires a lot of forward thinking about what one is trying to achieve and how it fits in the overall strategy. To a certain extent what we are witnessing today with Web 2.0, is not very far from what we have witnessed in the 1990s, when large corporations wanted to launch their first websites. More than often, the same question prevails: that is to say, is this website going to support or jeopardise my brand.
how can you tell a website is 2.0-ready?
There are several characteristics of Web 2.0, which we have described hereafter:
Collective intelligence: this is a concept which was developed by Howard Rheingold. This concept implies that when a group is cooperating, the result of this cooperation is stronger than the sum of all the contributions from all the individuals which are part of this group.
The user is the producer: With Web 2.0, users are also producers not just spectators. Web 2.0 sites are definitely alien to advertising and communications. Ignoring that and pursuing the old habit of delivering pre-formatted top-down product-orientated messages would be a non-starter.
RSS: RSS is more than just a feature, it is has a real functional impact on user behaviour. RSS (real simple syndication) enables users to receive information without having to make any effort to collect it. The use of RSS feeds imposes that the user installs a feed reader. More and more these the readers are integrated within the Internet browser or within the Internet toolbar (Google, Yahoo, etc.). The exponential development of RSS is at last making it possible to push information towards the user as was originally designed at the end of the 1990’s.
thin clients, light programming and mash-ups: the basic idea is that Web 2.0 websites can be built very rapidly by using existing objects or even objects and pieces of code or data drawn from existing websites. These existing websites can also be external. A typical mash-up example is that of websites which use Internet maps (mainly from Google), in order to make geo-localisation possible.
The web as a platform: this is the recycling of the ‘old’ (2000+) asp concept (application service provision). The idea is to use the network as a repository, and to avoid thick clients (see previous paragraph).
A brand new version of the Orange innovation whitepaper for business services – which I have co-authored with Jean-François Fava Verde – has just been made available (click here to download). This latest version of the whitepaper was distributed at Connect 2007, the worldwide event for Orange Business Services clients which took place in Lisbon on June 4-6, 2007. The event was extremely successful. Many break-out sessions (see photo on the left-hand side) took place on location, at the Corinthia Hotel Lisbon, and Innovation was on the agenda of many a presentation by our top Execs. The whitepaper was widely distributed (many thanks to Mark Wigington, our VP for IT services, for his renewed support) and our break-out session was also extremely successful and triggered interesting discussions with clients about how to handle and foster innovation jointly. The break out that Jean François and I had organised with the help of Orange Labs and our partner 123interview was also a success.
The climax of that presentation was an interactive session where we asked attendees to show us their vision of innovation through a survey which contained 4 main sets of questions: 1) about our clients’ views on the lifespan of innovation (from short to long term, what I have also called the ‘innometer’) 2) about our clients’ 3 most important business issues where innovation could play a role 3) about the 3 main technologies which were on our clients’ radar screen in order to solve their business issues (hence question 2) 4) about how favourable or unfavourable our clients were with regard to working jointly with one of their vendor. But it was no ordinary old fashioned paper-based survey, nor even was it a plain-vanilla online Internet survey.