The three elements that we will be addressing in the series are external communities, internal communities and the relevance of communities to the cloud.
In other words, the trends we'll be examining are:
- The role of external communities and how they are changing the way vendors are dealing with their customers.
- How internal communities are developing and how they connect with external services.
- The move to the cloud and why community is as critical as ever
We'll be profiling three companies. Spiceworks, Focus and Mindtouch. We'll see that the trends above are making the IT professional's work more complex while at the same time creating synergies that align customer support with marketing.
Spiceworks: The company is growing. The five-year-old company now has 1.4 million users in its community of IT professionals.
Focus: The new service is reminiscent of Quora but has a bent toward IT. It is developing a unique approach that combines webinars, research and Q&A.
Mindtouch: A software company that turns static documentation into metadata, offering an underlying infrastructure that at its core is a powerful knowledge engine that cuts support costs and helps develop sales leads.
"I consider these thriving communities to be an important proof point for 'meet the customer on their terms' value prop for Enterprise Social Media. These communities become important engagement platforms if customers choose to discuss their purchase preferences and support issues over here, instead of traditional call centers or branded communities. Enterprises may or may not like this but customers vote with their clicks and we're going to see such forums become more and more prevalent as users rely on each other for the best answers."
I also asked the community on Quora what they thought.
And on Focus, too:
Now, what do you think? Let us know in the comments and we'll include your perspectives as well.
Disclosure: Spiceworks paid for the airfare and lodging for the author's recent trip to Austin during SXSW.