The oh-so-new Canute Business Blogging Barometer is hereby withdrawn, since it clearly has been overtaken by events. When the prestigious Harvard Business Review is naming Blogging as the #10 Breakthrough Idea for 2005, no one will want to get left behind as the bandwagon rolls forward. Well yes, but …
Two significant and informative blog posts this morning define another important dimension in blogging. I must admit I’ve been running with that scale defined in the IBM book on Customer-centric enterprises for some time. Ritz Carlton was a prime example of the right end of the scale, that is Customer-Centric. Poor old Microsoft was at the left hand end of the scale, that is Product-Driven. Of course, IBM was somewhere towards the right-hand end. That scale too may be overtaken by the new scale that is becoming so apparent.
Business Blogging has been defined as a way of opening up a dialogue with the market-place. So perhaps that should be the ultimate defining scale. At the right hand end we have Dialogue: at the left hand end we have Monologue. In other words at the right hand end, we have a true open dialogue through and around a blog between a company and its customers and potential customers. At the left hand end, we have a monologue from the company: one-way communication with no real interaction. Of course the company may “listen” and note reactions. But it’s as if they were in the next room with a glass held against the wall to better hear what customers may be saying.
The post that I think typifies the right hand end, Dialogue, of the scale is in the IEBlog. As anyone reasonably proficient in web design knows this is the big hot potato that Microsoft needs to resolve. That is Cross-browser compatibility, with Internet Explorer being the one that is really out-of-step. It’s not an easy problem staying true to the legacy but doing the best in the present. Even King Solomon would have a problem with this one. Yet here is a blog post on IE and Standards that very sensibly defines the problems and encourages the dialogue. Here is a sample:
We pay a lot of attention to this kind of thoughtful insight into the biggest problems web developers face today. Wed like to encourage those facing real-world problems with the IE platform to participate in these kinds of efforts, so we can use this to help prioritize our development. … Microsoft does respond to customer demand; web developers are our customers.
Some of the comments show that some people are pretty sceptical about this. However the two-way channels are open and let’s remember, the legacy/compatibility problem is almost logically impossible to solve. At least if there’s good will on both sides, true Dialogue will be the only way to find a solution.
The post that typifies the left hand end of the scale, Monologue, is perhaps surprising. It’s a post by that eminence gris of the search world, John Battelle, in his post, “As Someone Who’s Been There…” . He points out in talking about Google that:
It’s hard being number one. But it’s easier if you are in conversation with those that put you there.
It’s unfortunate. Many of us have a great affection for Google but it really seems to be true. On so many issues, they’re up on the Mountain, and the rest of us are down in the Plains.
So I take my hat off to you, Microsoft. On my old favourite scale you were the defining point at the left hand end, Product-Driven. On this new scale, I nominate you as the defining point of the right hand end, Dialogue. I know we’ll all be better for that.