Meeting with a client yesterday seeking to tap into the Sun Microsystems blogging community, we wondered aloud whether Jonathan Schwartz's blog had been watered down/corporatized since he became CEO of that company. None of us had checked out his blog in a couple of months.
Based on what he wrote on June 2nd, I don't think he's lost his blogging mojo. Far from it. I think his "Sunlight is the Best Informant" entry nails the thought leadership and product development advantages of opening up the social media lines of communication. He's also fearless in revealing the unflattering results of a Fortune 100 corporate salescall.
While I urge you to read the the whole thing, here's the eureka section:
"We know the most valued information travels by word of mouth. Through blogs, on-line reviews, or other on-line conversations. Or "kneecap to kneecap," as we sit across the table from customers in our briefing centers. And frankly, the most valuable information about Sun doesn't come from Sun, it comes from other customers.
So how do you get the word out if you don't have a $500M ad budget? To me, it's not so much about getting the word out, as letting the eyes and ears in. You can tell I'm a big fan of transparency - that's why I write a blog (with comments on, and yes, I read every one, as do a host of others at Sun). It's why I encourage others to drive the conversation in the market, as well. Transparency's at least a part of the solution. If not an outright competitive weapon.
... Which is why you'll see something very interesting next week start to appear on Sun's web pages and throughout our on-line store. You'll start to see product reviews written by users. You'll see user defined ratings, right on our products. Just like book or product reviews at Amazon. We're starting with just a few products, but it'll ultimately extend all the way up to our highest end enterprise offerings."
Any organization looking to increase its competitive advantage in the 21st century would do well to consider, if not practice, what Jon is preaching. This blogging CEO hasn't lost an ounce of his mojo, and it will be interesting to see how his plans to let the eyes and ears into his company via social media pan out as he tackles the job of once again making Sun a vibrant competitor.
(Nathan Rudyk is President of market2world communications inc., Canada's social media agency, founder of Ottawa's OCRIRadio.com tech business podcast, and VP Community Relations of Government 2.0 Technology Think Tank)