The free-form nature of wikis -- and to a lesser extent blogs -- can be a benefit, but this lack of control over content causes some companies to wonder whether these tools might prove detrimental to business. Many struggle with the issue of how much autonomy to allow employees when they blog.
Sun Microsystems’ employee bloggers must agree to a strict company policy before they set up their corporate blogs. But there is no further vetting process for content; whatever employees write is posted without review.
Still, public-relations professionals worry that too-candid blogs may result in branding meltdowns. This fear results in some odd restrictions. For example, Microsoft bloggers generally refuse to respond directly to press requests asking for comment on their own blog posts, instead passing such requests along to Microsoft’s PR agency, Waggener Edstrom.
The smart business blogger accepts the fact that anything put in writing and transmitted over the Internet is about as private as a postcard. Recently, posts from Intel President Paul Otellini’s blog were made public. Otellini’s very open comments, intended to be viewed only by Intel employees, presented a candid view of the challenges Intel faces, including praise for competitor AMD.
But Otellini couldn’t have been surprised to see the contents of his blog leaked. As he wrote in his first post: “While this is intended as an internal blog, I recognize that it will become public -- welcome to the Internet! As a result, please recognize that I may be a bit limited in my comments and responses, to protect Intel.’’
Stressing user accountability and regular review of postings is critical when wikis are used to share important information, such as security data. Bluebill’s Gilbane believes that enterprise wikis will soon become more like blogs, with permission-based features that allow greater control over posted content.
“The more useful a wiki is to the enterprise, the more you need some sort of control over who can edit and add content,” Gilbane says. “You need to define the fine line between collaboration and a complete free-for-all or it can become a real mess. That said, we’ve had a difficult time finding a skeptic to include in our upcoming panel on enterprise use of wikis and blogs -- everyone we speak to is very enthusiastic about the benefits of this technology.”