Monday, June 13, 2005

Dark Blogs Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group

Suw Charman has shared Dark Blogs Case Study 01 - A European Pharmaceutical Group. I've just had a scan because I love cases and stories to place ideas and processes into the context of practice. Suw introduces the piece:
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.
Part of the case shows it's sponsorship: the software company which was used in the case. That's fair, but a bit distracting. My presumption is they funded the work.

I appreciated the company's feedback which avoids hyperbole and says "time will tell" if the experiment pays off. (Hype is an instant turn off!) I was particulary interested in how they integrated their blog software and processes into their existing tools and processes; something that you don't hear about often and which I think is important for sustainability. I was intrigued at the different levels of access to different blogs. Pretty complex.

I was suprised at the level of control over blog content, but I also don't have a grasp of issues in the pharma industry. Still, what would have happened if there was less control?

Here is a bit from the summary from within the PDF
Despite a lack of prior art or external expertise regarding blog-based projects in enterprise to draw upon, the CI team have created a project which successfully addresses a clear business need, and which in many ways begins to define internal blogging best practice:
  • The blog's aims were clear and precise and had been defined after comprehensive examination of the problems
  • The project had the full support of the CEO and the Executive Committee
  • There was a well constructed project plan, which included consideration of high level issues such as structure, taxonomy and search requirements as well as day to day user requirements
  • A clear, semi-open editorial process was defined
  • The open commenting system allows for dialogue with users
  • Integration with existing systems and technologies created a more seamless user experience
  • Read permission control means that potentially sensitive information can only be accessed only by those who need it
  • A slow roll out to a focused user group ensured word of mouth evangelisation and gradual build up to hard launch
  • Training has been kept simple and minimal, reducing barrier to entry for new users
  • Integration with email allows users to access content that's important to them via a familiar application.
In terms of problems, the oft-expected problem with user adoption did not materialise. However, there have been minor issues around cultural change which fall into two categories: Firstly some users have not clearly understood the ramifications of posting a comment, thinking that their comments would be visible only to the blog post author, rather than the whole user community. Secondly there has been some scepticism regarding the value of allowing users to push back on company decisions that have already been made and are being acted upon.

These issues are being dealt with on a case by case basis, and as people come to understand more clearly how the tool works and become more comfortable with the cultural changes that blogging engenders, these problems should be ameliorated.
Want to share the case? "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." That's sweet!

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Blogger James Dellow said...

At first I was excited to read this case study but ultimately I was disappointed. Overall I felt all we have is an example of building a better (technology) mouse trap, rather than a case of an enterprise blogging revolution in practice.

7:28 AM  

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