Blogs aren't just for political pundits anymore. The trend of writing a Web log or online diary may have initially grabbed headlines during the election season. But today, blogs are a matter of corporate concern.
''Blogs are starting to become a business phenomenon,'' said Charlene Li, a principal analyst at Forrester Research, in her recent report called Blogging: Bubble Or Big Deal?
The Blog Boom
It's easy to see why. Blog readership shot up 58 percent in 2004 over 2003, according to the Pew Internet & American Life Project. Today, more than a quarter of Internet users read blogs, according to Pew. And along with the rest of the corporate world, CIOs today are playing an increasingly important role in the ''blogosphere''.
''More and more CIOs are caring about blogging,'' said Forrester's Li.
One reason, of course, is that like all senior corporate executives, CIOs need to be plugged into current business and technology trends. But whether they blog or not, CIOs at least need to provide technical guidance and support to others at their company who may be blogging.
As the ultimate infrastructure managers, CIOs have plenty of decisions to make about a variety of technical and business issues involving blogging. And if you think no one at your company is blogging, guess again.
There are corporate blogs covering everything from Microsoft software to Maytag appliances to Monster job-placement services. At IBM, an internal blogging service has 9,000 registered users based in 65 countries -- and more than 1,000 active blogs.
Making the Best of Blogging
So where should CIOs get started? Recalling key corporate goals is a good place, primarily to make sure that any new decisions or policies are made in line with existing policy.
''Ask yourself 'How do blogs fit into your corporate philosophy?' and that will help you set your roadmap,'' recommends Li.
Collaboration with the marketing and legal departments can help CIOs answer a few key questions, including what policy a company takes about employees writing blogs; where the company houses any blogs written by employees; and how the company monitors what outside blogs are saying about the company, Li said.
''All companies should have a blog policy'' governing such issues, she said, noting that IBM put its blogging policy online in May. Even if a company wants nothing to do with blogs, it should have a policy that said as much so you ''have that explanation for people who will come knocking at your door'' asking for corporate support and infrastructure for blogging, Li adds.