Corporate Podcasts Target the IT Community

IBM and Oracle are among the pioneer tech companies to offer corporate Podcasting capabilities.

IBM recently revealed the successful launch of a multifaceted Podcasting initiative that focuses on emerging technology trends, community building and direct communication with investors and employees alike.

IBMs premiere Podcasting program offers both internal and external applications, according to Ben Edwards, manager of Investor Communications at IBM.

"Wed like to see how people will use these programs and to what ends and purposes," said Edwards. "Podcasting has lots of potential. Web syndication combined with the mobile device gives it a lot of utility which other forms of communication dont, and people will adapt to that."

Podcasts are used as a means for distribution of audio and video clips through the Internet.

Users can download the content in MP3 format, and then access it on-demand from their PC or MP3 player.

In terms of external programs, IBM recently launched a series of Podcasts on its Investor Relations site, in a bid to communicate directly with investors and the wider public about emerging or future trends in technology and business, according to a company representative.

The "IBM and the Future of…" series was designed to help investors and the general public understand IBMs future vision for tech trends and to learn about the companys ongoing work and research in various industries.

The series covers a range of topics. To date the company has put out five "IBM and the future of…" Podcasts, including "The Future of Driving," "The Home," "Shopping," "Our Past" and "Banking."

"IBM and the Future of Banking," the most recent installment, is currently ranked No. 55 on the iTunes Podcast Top 100 list, according to a representative.

"The aim here is to try and create value in communication," Edwards said. "Its important to offer something your listeners will find valuable, rather than having the company just put out a message saying, Our products are great; buy them."

Beyond that, IBM says it still has a number of external programs in the works where different IBM departments will put together different external Podcasts.

Such is the case for IBMs Developerworks technical community.

Developerworks currently has its own Podcast channel, which it uses to share information in a form that aims to be easy to digest (because its vocal rather than written).

In addition, the company maintains that the Podcasting medium offers multiple utilities, including on-demand access, where users can download a Podcast to an MP3 player, and technician-to-technical-type conversation.

Talking internally, IBM launched another initiative last month that revolves around a pilot tool IBM built for its employees to enable them to upload Podcasts theyve created and allow other employees to subscribe to those Podcasts.

"Just like blogging, theres a grass-roots feel to Podcasting that gives it authenticity," said Edwards. "It isnt corporate doing all this stuff, its IBMers who want to go out and create, and thats where the authenticity angle comes in."

Part of that initiative, IBMs internal Web Ahead Podcasting pilot, covers all sorts of items and events, including off-site access to teleconference calls.

Another corporate Podcast program, called Park Life, consists of a monthly Podcast from IBMs UK lab with technical interviews, news roundups and features.

Park Life has evolved into a community-building program of sorts, enabling open and direct communication between colleagues, according to Edwards.

"Were also very interested in looking at how other companies do this and all of the models being experimented with," he said.

"Right now were pretty much in the vanguard in the corporate world in terms of Podcasting, but we detect a lot of interest, and other companies are certainly thinking about it."

Oracle, which specializes in enterprise software, is another IT company of interest, because its not just thinking about the use of Podcasting as a communication medium; Oracle is doing something with it.

The company currently offers a Podcast series on its OTN (Oracle Technology Network) Web site, titled Oracle OTN TechCasts.

Oracles TechCasts were developed as a direct communication link to the companys developer and DBA community, to offer information on an array of technical topics, according to the Oracle Web site.

The TechCasts are online audio interviews with Oracles tech experts, delivered via Podcast.

"Think of them as an audio magazine or portable on-demand radio show," the company writes on its Web site. "Theyre delivered to you via RSS, and you can listen to them at your leisure."

In addition, Oracle recently offered Podcasts from its OpenWorld San Francisco Conference.

Users had access to download the Podcasts, which served up interviews, news and information about daily themes, in MP3 format via iTunes 4.9 or other Podcast clients, according to a news release.

"Oracle is one of the first companies to bring Podcasting to a conference to reach audiences who may not have been able to attend," said Senior Vice President of Oracle Worldwide Marketing Judy Sim, in a statement. "By Podcasting, OpenWorld attendees will [also] be able to listen to relevant content long after the show is over."


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