Blogging inside BT

Last week we launched a single internal blogging platform on the BT Intranet – based on WordPress technology. This is great for a number of reasons:

  • BT management is prepared to allow its employees to express themselves and their opinions on ‘unregulated’, self-publishing platforms … something, perhaps, we take for granted at BT but which I know is pretty rare in other organisations – everyone can have their own blog internally or externally at BT
  • as the content on BT blogs builds up, we’ll have an internal blogosphere, or body of informal content, from which huge value can be derived by everyone … until now we’ve had blogs on all sorts of different platforms so the content has been disconnected and the value limited
  • a blogosphere could change completely the way we communicate and collaborate across the enterprise.

The image below is of our new Blog Central homepage.

Screen shot of BT Blog Central homepage


  1. Hi Richard.

    Exciting stuff – I have been thinking about how to talk to people where I work about blogs.

    For me they are a great way to participate in, or just listen to, conversations around the business.

    Lots of conversations happen every day at work that any number of people may want to listen in to. That same number of people may also have a very valuable input that could improve the output, or the ideas generated, from that conversation.

    I like being able to listen and be a part of conversations because it helps me to shape my own ideas, to fortify my arguments. If I have something to add, I do, but otherwise it’s great to be able to listen in.

    So perhaps we focus less on the benefits of writing blogs and more on the benefits of having access to them. Those who want to start, will. But perhaps we shouldn’t encourage people to start and let them make that decision for themselves?

    I’m also feeling pressure – from those who are new to blogs – to prove their worth over discussion boards. This is something I struggle to articulate. I find blogs more accessible because there is always someone kicking of the discussion with a point of view rather than a “what do people think about this?” which we might find on a discussion board.

    What are your thoughts?


  2. Richard – Good thing I keep a tabs on your blog, as I totally didn’t see the announcement of the new Blog Central. Looks very nice, and as easy to use as external WordPress blogs. One small comment is that we should probably allow for an automated new blog request process rather than the current email this address method. Otherwise, fantastic job!

  3. Thanks, Peter. I think there is a subtle difference between a discussion forum and a blog … a discussion forum is content- or subject-centred, with free flowing posting that is un-managed and un-owned … or maybe losely owned by the community of users.

    A blog is a publishing platform, normally for an individual but they can have multiple authors, upon which the individual ‘owner’ manages the flow of content that is published while readers can comment on that flow – sometimes subject to the owner’s moderation. The content is clearly owned and the flow is managed by the owner.

    I think ‘ownership’ is key here – my feeling is that discussion forums often die a death because they lack ownership and get forgotten – a blog on the other hand is clearly owned and normally the owner feels responsible for keeing it going becuase it is part of their personal brand.

  4. James – it has only been ‘soft’ launched so far – we wanted to build up a body of content before going BT-wide with the comms and also get an automated, self-service request process in place – the manual request process is only temporary while the support team set up the auto version.

  5. “everyone can have their own blog internally or externally at BT”

    Do you mean employees can blog externally on the BT website, or on their own?

  6. Hi Richard, interesting stuff… imitation is the sincerest form of flattery of course, and we’ve had a platform called BlogCentral at IBM for a number of years now. Cheeky comment on my part of course, but it’s interesting to see you’ve adopted a similar name! 🙂

    I’m interested in your choice of WordPress as the platform. I’m a big fan of WordPress myself and like you, I use for my personal blog. Any information about what you folks might be doing in terms of scaling the platform or integrating it with your existing systems?

  7. Jeremy – we don’t have an external corporate blogging platform but BT people can blog about their work at BT externally on their own blogs. I’m not a fan of centrally managed, big, external corporate blogging platforms because they smack a bit of PR to me.

    Andy – we have actually had a beta Blog Central for a couple of years too 🙂 … they are as ubiquitous as (companyname)pedias these days! I’m not really a techie but I understand the platform is scaled for enterprise-wide use … integration is something we are looking at, such as portal widgets etc.

  8. The platform is currently a single, yet rather large linux VM running WordPress MU 1.3.3 with the LDAP auth plugin into the Corprate AD.
    as the need and used grows this will be fronted by a cookie insert load balancer and more apache/php instance

    The front page includes some blog guidelines and a few a few MU plugins
    Recently update blogs
    New blogs
    Top Bloggers (quantity not quality)
    Gloabal Tag cloud

    We have also …
    Disabled the self registration system, as by default wordpress MU gives you a blog name based on your username( a meaning less 9 didgit number in our case).
    Enforced logon for comments on all blogs, and modified the PHP to prevent anyone changing that
    Pre loaded the WP_users table with ALL employees, so no registration is required for a User account (require for comment), LDAP to the AD deals with password policies
    User Blog are (Currently Manualy) created using the email address prefix, replacing “.” with a “_” for john.smith@ get a blog called john_smith
    Group Blogs what ever name they wish (within reason)

  9. Great read Richard. I am currently working on the infrastructure for the internal blog platform (based on WordPress) at my company as well. If you have any free time to spare in the future, I would love to have a brief chat to discuss how WordPress is working out for you.

  10. Congratulations! We’re working on the same at Océ at the moment. I was wondering what your blogging (or social computing) policy and guidelines are? Do you have them? And could you share them with us? I really like IBM’s. Luis Suarez just shared them with use some time ago.

  11. Samuel,
    I’m sure I could share our guidelines … but to be honest, I doubt they will differ much from what you’ve seen already elsewhere … they don’t contain anything other than what you would expect. I’ll dig them out when I get a chance.

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