May 29, 2005

Blogging getting focus of Indian MSM

Rashmi Bansal has written an article on blogging in the latest issue of Businessworld. This is the third article on blogging in the MSM after India Today and one article written by Peter Griffin in Man's World.

Rashmi's article is however more corporate focussed and she tries to evangelise the corporate world to take up blogging. The examples used are the usual one , Robert Scoble ("chief humanizing officer"). But she does better by telling the readers that even Tom Peters blogs (ok its a team blog). Of course, to readers it might still seem to say "So what" and Rashmi does take Wipro to task for its dull and dry blog. Of course, people who visit that site might not get the whole philosophy of blogging. It would just look like a different website. And they'll go away scratching their heads wondering what the fuss is all about. The ironies of a blog is that the difference can only be experienced when you write one and then use tools like PubSub or bloglines to find that you have triggered a conversation. The power then hits home.

Which businesses will blog the most?

I believe that businesses that rely on 'expertise' and 'brain power' like professional services firms will be the first to take up blogging. The ones that need to connect to a global pool of people and that can show their expertise merely by commenting. Firms like the tompeters company will benefit the most from blogging. Their customers would have access to their thoughts every written post.

In India the issue with corporate blogging lies in the following reasons:

1. Traditionally we've had most organizations that are closed to even internal questioning. Though a lot has changed over the last 15-20 years, yet the majority of Indian companies continue to be mired in the old mindset. Case in point, I dropped in to one of my previous firms, it does innovation consulting and training for organizations. And we got chatting and I told them, "you know, you should start a blog"...and I was greeted by two blank faces. Now these are the folks telling corporate India to start thinking afresh and break away from the past, and they didn't know what a blog was. Then I launched into how they can publish their thoughts comments, build a community of innovation thinkers, utilize RSS , and more ...when I realized that I had lost them. One had gone back to reading emails and the other was staring at me trying to understand what I was saying. Then I took a deep breath and said "tom peters blogs" "he does?" "yep, go check out " and I left.

2. The language issue and the bandwidth issue: Two issues compound together to make it a greater issue. Ordinary folks who speak and read English fluently although high in number are still a small fraction of India's population. Of these the one's who are on the net and technically savvy are a small part. Most of these folks use the internet primarily for email. Awareness of what is a blog is itself low. However blogs in local languages would alleviate some issues, but losing out the opportunity to connect to readers in different parts of the country. Growth in broadband would surely help in encouraging users to move from reasearching and emailing to actively engaging on blogs. The difference in blogs (and other social software tools like wikis, bulletin boards, chat) and the rest of the net (static websites and stuff on them) is they encourage the reader to move from a consumer focus to a participant focus.

3. The third danger I foresee is that blogging becomes a fad and everyone jumps into it without a clear understanding of its powers or having the end clarity in their minds. As I posted on Naked Conversations the rhetoric is getting has heard so much about change management , about technologies that will change the way we work that maybe we need to take another argument...tell them that blogging is a tool, but the change is really that one they need to make from a centralized communication medium to a many-to-many conversation, that open honest communication is too important a thing to leave to marketing and corporate communication and PR groups . That is the real challenge for organizations... or else they well embrace the tool, but not the mindset and then they will blame the bloggers, for hyping this new tool !