An opening for corporate blogs?

Will blogs become more mainstream in the workplace?

Use of the communications tool is soaring, and two experts say there is potential for even more growth within the corporation, and probably for internal IT use.

Michael Schrage, co-director of the MIT Media Lab’s eMarkets Initiative, says a blog, "if it’s managed well, can be a tremendous tool" in the workplace. For instance, Schrage would like to see blogs that can offer pointers on ERP implementations that can even help a vendor. "I would say it would be worth a hundred million dollars to SAP to be able to get to two or three companies who use {blogs}," Schrage says.

Schrage says blogs and wikis can make application deployment more effective. "I think that blogs and wikis, if they’re done with craft and care, will supersede FAQs and traditional documention" that has often held back effective app deployment, Schrage asserts.

Recent surveys by the Pew Research Center found that only a minority of Internet users have recognized blogs, despite the media coverage surrounding them. Only 12 percent have posted comments or other material on blogs, while only 38 percent of 'Net users know what a blog is.

The blog "still tends to be pretty much a community or individual application versus being internalized by the corporation," says David Via, an analyst with Ferris Research. But he says the potential is there. "Someone significant is going to have to enter the space from the software side," he notes.

Both Ferris and Schrage see blogs as more of a knowledge management tool in the corporation. "Maybe this is where knowledge management wins," Schrage figures. "Maybe the knowledge management people come back by declaring blogs and wikis knowledge management."