IBM Creating an Army of Evangelists

    May 14, 2005

Silicon Valley Watcher: Early next week IBM will introduce the largest ever corporate blogging initiative in a bid to encourage any of its 130,000 staff to become online evangelists for the company.

Tom Foremski’s report today in Silicon Valley Watcher makes for very interesting reading.

He says IBM’s plan comes hot on the heels of their Q1/05 financial results, which missed financial analysts’ expectations and led to IBM announcing layoffs of up to 13,000 employees, with the majority of those lost jobs in Europe. Also see this ZDNet report with additional commentary.

Tom’s report says that IBM hopes blogging could help stem further losses if it can galvanize employees into becoming an army of online evangelists for IBM’s products and technologies. Employees will be taught what blogging is, and they will be guided on what is appropriate blogging content.

The goal is to help improve IBM’s competitive position in key IT markets by having more of its tech gurus participating in online communities and discussions.

This huge-scale blogging plan is visionary, to say the least, but the goal must be regarded as extraordinarily ambitious. Mind you, imagine if only one percent of IBM’s 130,000 employees become outward-facing bloggers – that’s 1,300 new bloggers suddenly on the scene, about as many as Microsoft currently has in total (that was the number in March, anyway).

But we already know that IBM has been making strong moves into corporate blogging for some time. In early March, I posted commentary about their 2,800 internal employee blogs. I bet that number has increased substantially and geographically in the ensuing two months.

There are also the efforts IBM is making to categorize and tag content on their employee intranet, a behemoth site(s) with over five million pages. The goal there is clear – enable employees to more effectively find and use information, and enable them to assign attributes to information in a way that makes it easy and simple for others to find and make connections to and from it.

This is all about reducing costs, and improving workplace efficiency and employee productivity, as well as the obvious goal.

For the moment, a last word from Tom’s report:

This type of evangelism through blogging can be extremely effective and potentially reduce advertising and marketing costs-a very large line item for most companies. Such savings could offset job cuts-the traditional way IBM and other tech companies reduce their costs.

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