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Jack Says I’ll Never Be Intel’s Scoble, and that Intel Won’t Benefit Much from Blogging

There was a great post on the internal Intel blog over the weekend about how Intel will not benefit as much from blogging as Microsoft, and that I’ll never be Intel’s Scoble. He makes a lot of interesting points, and here is how I responded on my internal blog.

In short, this is what I hear Jack saying:

Intel is different [from Microsoft]. We design and fabricate “silicon building blocks”. We sell these to OEM’s who build boards and boxes around them. There aren’t that many OEM’s and much of the data we share with them is proprietary stuff. End users don’t really know much or care much about [our products].

The large portion of the company that works on our secret stuff and does the actual implementation, turning ideas into silicon, is not really benefitted hugely by increased end user interaction.

This is where I (respectfully) disagree wholeheartedly with Jack. On a couple of levels.

First, Intel doesn’t JUST design and fabricate silicon. We make software, tools, services (like Clickstar), consumer products, TVs (almost, with LCoS), and lots of other things. Sure, silicon is our core business, but it’s far from all we do. And even if it was, there’s no rule that says only software companies like Microsoft will benefit from blogging.

We are a company, and we have customers. Period. We can benefit from conversing with our markets through blogging. Period. It doesn’t matter if we make microprocessors or doorknobs. We need to be engaged in conversation with our customers. Microsoft and Sun make software, and they’re benefitting from blogging. IBM makes hardware and software (like us), and they’re benefitting from blogging. GM and Land Rover make cars, and they’re benefitting from blogging. English Cut makes bespoke worsted wool suits, and they’re benefitting from blogging.

Jack seems to be making the assumption that I said the conversation should only be had with “end users”, the people who buy a computer and use it to email their family, etc. I maintain (and maybe I wasn’t clear on this) that we should be engaged in the blogging conversation with EVERYONE – ourselves, our partners, our suppliers, our OEMs, and our customers. EVERYONE.

And then there’s the 80,000+ Intel employees, most of which are not directly involved in designing or making silicon, but supporting those who do. I’m in the IT part of the company. I support servers running the same hardware and same operating system as thousands of other IT geeks, within Intel or without. There’s nothing secret about what I do. Is there some benefit to being able to have conversations through blogging with other people like me, about problems (and solutions!) we share, or cool shortcuts we’ve found? Of course there is.

Another point I want to clarify is that when I say “thou shalt blog“, I don’t mean “thou shalt write some stuff, and hope people read it“. You have to listen AND talk to have a conversation. To really “get it“, you have to learn how to listen to what people are saying. You have to learn to use your referrer logs and trackbacks, to use tools like Bloglines, Technorati, PubSub, and Feedster to track what people are saying. You have to read the blogs of the people in your community. Blogging is not a one-way medium. Blogging is the two-way web.

The Cluetrain Manifesto says that “Companies that do not belong to a community of discourse will die.” Is that rule in effect right now? Of course not. But the world is changing, and moving in that direction. 15 years ago, people said that a company without a website would die. Some people laughed, and some people listened. But the world changed. And it’s changing again (still), as we speak (type). There’s a grace period going on right now. Time for companies to figure this new blogging thing out, and get with the program. Microsoft, Sun, IBM, GM, and many others have already done so. Dozens more are figuring it out every day. I really don’t want Intel to be too late to the party. Again.

Intel makes the most complex products in the world. We employ the smartest people in the world. And that world is changing. I want to do everything I can to keep us from getting stuck in the tar of fear and paranoia and going extinct.

Agree? Disagree? Have a comment? Want to call me names? Or praise me and call me “Intel’s Scoble“? 😉 Post on your blog, or leave a comment, and come join the conversation. It’s fun. Really, it is. :-) And lest anyone read any ill feeling toward Jack, let me make clear that none is intended. This is an example of conversation via blog. Jack posts something, I post a response on my blog, etc. This is how we should be doing it! I have nothing but respect and admiration for Jack and his opinions.

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5 thoughts on “Jack Says I’ll Never Be Intel’s Scoble, and that Intel Won’t Benefit Much from Blogging

  1. Jack says:

    Josh,

    It is relatively easy to disagree when you snip half of my post away. The way you write it even I disagree with myself.

    Maybe you can become a Scoble afterall! :-)

  2. I didn’t want to repost your post without permission, Jack. I wasn’t trying to slant the issue, just get the crux of what I thought you were saying. :-)

  3. Excellent post, Josh. Points well taken. And maybe Jack is forgetting that talent may be the number one success factor for companies (Rise- and Flight of the Creative Class). Attracting that talent and inspiring their teamwork, creativity and productivity should be at the top or close to the top of Intel’s priority list even if the firm is primarily BtoB. Blogging is exactly the right tool to put a human face on Intel. It could also help for things like environmental issues, for example. You go, Josh!

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