Q&A: Jonathan Schwartz

Jonathan Schwartz is President and Chief Operating Officer of Sun Microsystems, Inc. He answered some questions for me for a story on blogging, but only a few words made it into the final article (due out in print next week).

Question: What value can an employee’s blog offer to an enterprise?

Schwartz: Sun serves such a fantastically diverse set of constituents – from 12 year old girls downloading games on Vodafone Live!’s new gaming service, to Wall Street technologists, to CIO’s at large retailers, to mobile developers in the medical community to journalists we try to keep apprised of our strategies and perspectives – that having one person, or one ad campaign, can’t possibly serve our needs. Blogs, on the other hand, give us phenomenal reach, and a very efficient communications vehicle to engage in a dialogue with our ecosystem – targeting the two skills all our constituents share: they can read. And they all have internet access.

If you’re not speaking about your products or business to the public, someone else is doing it for you. If your customers are reachable via the internet, you’ve now got a lot of competition for their time and attention – the internet is so clearly a vital part of establishing and maintaining relationships with customers and constituents.

Question: Does Sun encourage or support your blog?

Schwartz: Sun encourages all of its employees to blog, not just me. We want folks to be an active member in their communitities. Sun provides the software and support for any employee who wishes to enter the blogosphere. I’m an ardent believer that our own employees are our best ambassadors. For a sampling of the wide range of folks doing great things visit blogs.sun.com.

Question: Are there any corporate policies you have to abide by when it comes to content?

Schwartz: Mike Dillon (our General Counsel) and I have spent quite a bit of time talking about the implications of blogging. Our employees are literally the people creating technologies driving the Internet, they have had access to that network since the inception of Sun more than 20 years ago. Our view is first and foremost, organizations must have good, effective policies and practices surrounding disclosure and public communications, independent of blogging or network architecture. Ours are very rigorous, and every employee signs a policy statement that says they understand it – that’s not to say you don’t have to remind folks now and then, but that’s not unique to blogging.

Finally, one of the most interesting things to keep an eye on in the coming years will be the intersection of folks protected by the 1st amendment with those under the scrutiny of fiduciary obligation. Something tells me it’s going to be an interesting ride…