Corporate podcasts from the likes of MassMutual Financial Group, General Motors, A.M. Best and IBM aren't likely to bump workout music mixes from FitPod.com, comedy from Bill Maher and sports broadcasts from the most-popular list at Apple Computer's iTunes store. But corporate podcasting has worked its way into the technology fabric of businesses.
The advantages of podcastsproduced audio delivered to a digital music playerare obvious: They are easy to create and are portable, and users can download them and listen at their leisure without office distractions. A message from the boss? Facts about a new product? Procedures for a new business process? Technology support tips? Download and listen.
"The next age of insanity is using iPods and cell phones," said industry veteran Max Hopper, president of Max D. Hopper Associates, in remarks at the Society for Information Management's recent SIMposium conference in Dallas. "People are used to using consumer technology. Customers will want to deal with their suppliers in the same vein, and someone will have to offer that way."
The issue: Podcasting presents a conundrum for technology executives, many of whom told eWeek they don't have a podcasting strategy or much to do with the practice. For now, business unitssay, the marketing department or salesare leading podcasting efforts. These units may create their own systems or acquire them without consulting the technology department.
Those practices may have to change as podcasting gains momentum. These relatively new technologies, such as wikis and RSS feeds, will appear in a series of stories in eWeek examining how consumer technologies are affecting corporate IT departments.
Simply put, the consumers are leading the suits in technology. Indeed, consumer fluency with podcasting, already strong, is growing rapidly. The Diffusion Group forecasts that the use of podcasting among U.S. consumers is growing at a compound annual rate of 101 percent. By 2010, 56.8 million Americans will be using "time-shifted digital audio files," or podcasts, TDG predicts.