Close to Your Customers

Chris Anderson has a nice piece here on executive and business blogs — Business blogging != executive blogging. I like this part best:

The most successful business blogs are peer-to-peer: engineers, designers and managers within a company blogging about their own projects for the engineers, designers and other customers outside the company who use those products or care about that project.

Yes. Exactly. I’ve seen this rather directly on the OpenSolaris project. No question. But I’d go even further because the “customers outside the company who use those products or care about that project” are now also many times directly involved in the production of the product or the running of the project. Really interesting change in relationship going on here. When I look at the developers joining the OpenSolaris project, many are from Sun’s biggest customers and ISVs and partners. So, Sun customers are not only following the OpenSolaris engineering blogs to learn about the code and develop relationships with the Sun engineers and other community members, they are also participating in the project itself. So, over time we’ll be selling systems that our customers are helping to make. Ultimately, that’s probably the best customer service out there if we can get this right. Last week, I briefed the staff running Sun’s Executive Briefing Center (EBC) about OpenSolaris. Sun’s a big company, so there’s a lot of internal education going on about OpenSolaris. Anyway, this is exactly what I told the EBC staff — that the customers they are briefing right now about Solaris are also right now directly participating on OpenSolaris. Really wild. You simply can’t get closer to your customers, can you?

One more thing … I really loved this part of Chris’s blog, too:

Traditionally corporate messaging is directed up through the management structure within a company until it is released via an executive speech or press release, at which point it is supposed to be picked up by the press, filtered again, and trickled down to the public and ultimately the customers. But now that sort of top-down messaging is losing its effectiveness as consumers vote with their browser to go directly to the unfiltered voice of people like them.

Perfect. I couldn’t let that one pass.