I had an interesting exchange - via email - with the nom de plume of Amanda Chapel. Amanda suggested that my comments on Aedhmar Hynes' blog were to quote Amanda: "a rare synthesis of the current swirl of inane blog blather. It demonstrates definitively a lack of business and communications sense. If I were a CEO, and knew you were on the property, I’d call security."
Well, not everyone digs what I have to say. At any rate, my point - which I sent in a subsequent email was this:
"Blogging, participatory media, whatever you want to call it is another tool for listening. You may disagree, but I think it is a very powerful and managed correctly, very valuable tool, but it is obviously not the only one. Any company that listens only to the bloggers does so at their peril. Still, it holds great potential to do well for companies – when managed appropriately…anarchy is unacceptable, totally agree. But any company that isn’t listening *at least* for damage control purposes – is being foolish.
People are talking anyway and whether it is through blogs or something else, once what they say starts moving it can travel really fast. This means that the bully pulpits of Jarvis (and yes Strumpette) can wreak temporary havoc on your reputation and the case of a stolen phone can capture national attention. It is also means that you can absorb more rapidly what good customers are saying and convert them into even better ones.
For example: It is pretty well a given that enterprise software (significant installations that run north of seven figures) will have kinks. The people buying it don’t necessarily begrudge the vendor that kinks exist they just want to get them worked out quickly. Collecting and disseminating knowledge related to how and where to apply the iron is of high value to vendors and their customers. Blogs are a significant tool in this respect. Some of this customer and vendor knowledge is created and/or resides in the public domain through blogs and elsewhere, some doesn’t. The point is to collect everything, identify patterns and unique issues, and address both appropriately. Does this mean a blog post or comments on someone else’s blog? Maybe, every situation is unique. The point is that how information is disseminated, who gets to consume it, and what it says and to whom still requires a skilled human filter, a role in which good PR people are today adding value.
We all have our own opinions about who those people are and are not."
I bring this conversation to light only after reading Jonathan Schwartz' June 2 entry "Sunlight is the Best Informant". Amanda told me to
"Mark my words, there’s going to be a backlash to all this and the “revolutionaries” will have indelible marks on their heads."
Jonathan has been CEO for slightly more than 60 days, we've yet to see just what mark his legacy leaves on Sun. The point in all of this is not that blogs are a holy grail that must be adopted by every company, or that we should head blindly down a path towards "mob rule" as Amanda says. Rather it is that in the right industries, for the right companies, openness is something customers appreciate and will reward. Personally, I believe Sun is going to learn an awful lot about their customers and how to build and design better products for them in faster cycles which will return significant shareholder value.