Thursday, December 29, 2005

Benifits of blogging

A few days back I was discussing with a friend, how small companies can use blogging to their advantage. To survive in business each company has to maintain a certain brand image for itself. The brand image helps in attracted good customers as well as in attracting good talent to work for the company. Large organizations do the brand building in many ways, some of them being through advertisements, brochures, conferences, and their salesforce. Small companies however do not have the deep pockets that their larger counterparts enjoy, but many small companies do excellent work, and it's a pity that they are not as well known as they should be. The Internet and the concept of grassroots publishing gives smaller organizations, the tools to network and make themselves better known. Blogs and Podcasts are two of the more frequently used tools that can be used. In this weblog I talk about Blogs. I will to talk about Podcasts in another posting.

Blogs as opposed to books capture small ideas. A book is a treatise, it deals with a concept, fact, or fiction in significant detail. An article is a smaller unit of writing, and a blog is the smallest. In a blog one writes about something distinct in a terse and useful manner. Offcourse not all blogs are terse and many are not useful, but that is because there are so many bloggers, all of whom want to share their personal rants with the world.

A blog may proceed towards a book, but it need not. It can be a collection of thoughts, stories, etc that we want to share with our readers. Let me explain why it is important. A couple of days back I was reading Times Ascent. There were recruiting advertisements from well known companies (most of those adds were large and in color), and there were adds from smaller companies. I am sure some of the smaller companies must be really good, but anyone reading Ascent has no way of knowing it. Applicants looking for a job will first apply to the larger organizations, and only those candidates who are not sure of getting selected with the big guys will look at the unknown companies. I think there are two factors that come into play here. The size and the glitz of the advertisement, and the fact that a company is known. An advertisement that does not have any of these factors will most likely be ignored by the good candidates. Size and glitz come at a huge price, and probably are not affordable for a small organization. But being known in the software community is not very difficult. As an example, Joel Spolsky runs a small software company which is reasonably well known and he is also able to attract good talent. He gets summer trainees from Stanford. He has achieved this because he has created a certain persona for his company through his writings (essentially blogs) on the Internet. I am sure it takes time, but the returns that he gets are definitely worth it.

For a practical implementation outlook, all that needs to be done is spend 15 minutes a day writing about experiences with methodologies and technology. It can be a collaborative process where everyone contributes and something good emerges at the end of every week. At times it can also be a personal effort and not a collaborative one. Time spent on this activity will not be wasted, because the process of writing also helps the writer articulate her thoughts, and not to mention write better comments in code :-) If an organization can come up with short peices of useful writing, publish them on their website, and also get them published in magazines then they will create a certain rapport with the software community. The name of the organization will stick in peoples mind. Now when the organization advertises for job openings, they will get a better response because more potential candidates will have heard of the company, and will know that they do good work. In time the advertising can also happen through the blogs. Very often talented developers might apply on their own, because they want to work for a company that does great work. Off course it will be a while before this will happen, but as they say: A long journey begins with the first step.

1 comment:

Omniscient said...

I am in full agreement with what Parag has to say .... there is no point in "internalizing" your company's knowledge base ... it has to be "externalized" over a blog, only then will people know your true value. 'Harnessing collective intelligence' is what Web 2.0 is all about!