Corporate bloggers who want to communicate with select customers or colleagues to share information on niche topics can tie into contact lists already available in personal, enterprise resource planning (ERP) or customer relationship management (CRM) platforms.
At least that's the pitch from content management developer iUpload Inc., which on Thursday said it has integrated with NetSuite's on-demand business application and is working to provide access to Microsoft Corp.'s CRM and SharePoint products. Salesforce.com already is available.
"Information gets lost in e-mails, and corporate blogging sites have become an easy way for companies and customers communicate," said David Carter, vice president of strategy and chief information officer at iUpload, a content manager and corporate blogging software company. "We have about a dozen customers integrating the blog function with their CRM package or proprietary systems."
Integration into NetSuite is driven by iUpload's membership in the NetFlex Applications Program. The platform gives employees and customers the opportunity to collaborate. A check-off list managed within NetSuite's contact list allows companies to set access privileges. Carter said Cambridge Healthtech Advisors ties their blog site into the CRM platform.
In another scenario, a customer offering pharmaceutical research wanted to give all clients access to the corporate blog, but only some to related reports. An investment banking firm tied their blog to its membership software application to share spreadsheets and other documentation. As the blog is built out with additional content, it is personalized with bits and pieces of data specific to pre-assigned groups.
Along with PowerPoint and PDF file attachments, iUpload also lets bloggers link podcasts in their post. In October, iUpload built for McDonald's Corp. a "sister site" to its Intranet that give employees their own blog. It took about a month to bild. The employee blogs are listed on an internal home page by category, Carter said. "The first blogger they signed up is president and chief operating officer Mike Roberts, and he uses it for anecdotal information," he said. "He also uses the podcasting feature."
iUpload also is working with McDonald's to launch a "social responsibility" blog it will use to communicate information, such as the information on nutrition content in food.
Some research indicates more consumers turned to blogs, "social computing tools," for information in 2005. The percent of North American online consumers who visit social networking sites at least once a week grew from 4 percent to 6 percent last year, according to a survey on social computing conducted by Forrester Research Inc. of more than 5,000 North American online consumers in 2004 and 2005.