Thursday, February 7, 2008

Why Product Development Should Blog - Part 1

SaleI was talking with Jake about how my blog was going, I recounted some stories of great outcomes that had surprised me since I stepped into the blogosphere a few months ago. "Blog those" was his reply, he's a very active blogger and has already blogged our conversation. This is part 1 in a series of I don't know how many describing business value in my blogging.

A Troubled Customer

I got a comment from Manish, who before explaining the problem he was facing wrote:
We have taken the plunge with R12 Financials, GL in particular and your blog is like what the doctor ordered. This post is sort-of related to Intercompany but not quite so I apologize but I am really troubled.

A troubled customer who needs help, turns out they had logged a service request with support and had got an answer that was correct, but did not address the subtlety of their business problem. This is the sort of situation that could result in an implementation failing, Oracle losing revenue and getting a lot of bad PR.

Manish sent me more details and I got answers from Seamus Moran and my boss and got a brief answer to him on the blog. Seamus also sent some documents and examples via old fashioned email and they had a follow up conference call to go over the details. In the call the Customer wondered if we had a better solution and another module was suggested that might help them. The next thing they have got their Oracle Sales team pricing the module for them*.

So we had a troubled customer unable to get our software to do what they needed for their business, after connecting to my blog they are a happy customer looking to buy more from us. Investment from development was minimal, a couple of hours at the most, the returns are:

  • The $ value of the up-sell

  • Avoided bad PR from them failing

  • Saved support and license renewal revenue into the future

  • Get positive PR for reacting fast and effectively to a problem

  • Have material we can pass to Support to educate customers with the same issue

  • Provide Sales with a nice in with other customers who may also benefit from the same up-sell

  • I feel good and keep blogging

So the last point is stretching the point, but this is my blog so allow me my feel good moment. Now I have to convince some more of my colleagues, to take the plunge and start blogging.

Do you agree that development teams should blog? Are there particular development teams you would like to see blogs from, inside or outside Oracle? Or are you in product development and have arguments against blogging? Sound off in the comments.

*I have no idea if the deal has gone through, or any of the financial details and prefer not to in case I reveal any forward looking financial data - that would be bad.

UPDATE : Now we have Part 2 and Part 3 in this series


Paul said...

This is a really good question David.

"a blog is a great way of directly engaging our customers (and potential customers) both to help them use and understand what we have built, but also as an unprecendented channel for us to find out what is really happening out in the field and how we can build even better products"

I think it is a simple test for every product development team/product manager. If you believe the statement above and are committed to the intent, then go ahead and blog and reap the rewards.

If you don't believe it, or are not prepared to make the commitment, then don't blog. You will avoid making an ass of yourself. Common failings I have seen/experienced in product dev/mgmt blogs:
- simple reposting of marketing collateral
- overtly hyped; no sense that the blog is written by "real" people/peers/professionals
- "selectively" moderated comments (i.e. don't approve comments that are critical or raise difficult questions)

David Haimes said...


I would agree with your take, in order to be engaging in the blog format I think you have to bring something personal. I have been unsure if I should post 'off topic' or stick to useful information for customers (and potential customers), but people read and comment on those off topic posts. I'm now of the opinion that they give the blog a personal touch which differentiates it from the marketing material, user docs, FAQ, forums and other sources of information.

Jake said...

@Paul: Good points about commitment and comment moderation.

The commitment blogging requires to be even moderately successful is higher than many expect.

Moderating comments taints the conversational nature of the blog and is more work, frankly. I don't advocate embracing all critics, but more often than not, frustration has a root you can address. You won't convert everyone, but listening and providing a honest forum are keys.

@David: The feel good moments keep you going when you run dry on content or someone flames you or the effort you spend is questioned by colleagues. These are gold.

David Haimes said...

I did have moderation on for this blog, but was approving every comment. Seeing as askimet is excellent at catching spam I just turned moderation off.

I want to hear the criticism and have a chance to respond to it and learn from it.

Jake said...

Comment moderation is a chore, and it drives away readers. People who comment want to converse, and waiting for the author to moderate a comment drives that desire down exponentially.

David Haimes said...

Agreed I find it really painful when I goto the trouble of entering a comment to be told that it has gone for moderation. I was worried about SPAM but it doesn't seem to be a problem askimet catches it all as far as I can see.

Why Product Development Should Blog - Part 2 « David Haimes Oracle Intercompany Financials Blog said...

[...] Product Development Should Blog - Part 2 Posted on February 24, 2008 by David Haimes In part 1 I talked about how a conversation on my blog took a frustrated customer with problems to a situation [...]

Tom Johnson said...

Paul, where's the source for the quote you posted above?

“a blog is a great way of directly engaging our customers (and potential customers) both to help them use and understand what we have built, but also as an unprecendented channel for us to find out what is really happening out in the field and how we can build even better products”

I really agree and want to cite it somewhere.

tardate said...

@Tom: sorry, didn't see you q till now. The source is ...see above! it was just me speaking in the imagined voice of an inspired product manager;-)