Ever since I first started working with online social communities I've been thinking about just what it is that makes some communities successful while others fizzle and die. In particular I'm curious why collaboration communities seem to be so hard to make work.
While doing recent research on social computing initiatives I got to thinking on this problem again. Recently I made the connection to Abraham Maslow's work on the hierarchy of needs:
Maslow suggested all people are motivated by a desire to fulfill basic human needs in an ascending hierarchy. He also suggested that unless the lower-order needs are fulfilled, the higher-order needs are not motivators of behavior.
The primary needs Maslow identified fall into five groups:
Forrester analysts have long been active bloggers about the roles and subject areas they cover. If you've been a prior visitor to the Forrester Blog For Enterprise Architecture, you've seen posts from Randy Heffner, Gene Leganza, Jeff Scott and myself. From these beginnings, we've learned a lot - and we've put these learnings into our new blog platform and network.
Here's an overview from Cliff Condon, the champion and project manager for this new platform:
Hey everyone. Here it is – Forrester’s new blog network. We made some change to improve the experience for readers and to encourage more analysts to blog. Feel free to poke around and let me know what you think.
There are a few things I’d like to point out to you:
* Everyone’s welcome here. Forrester analysts use blogs as an input into the research they produce, so having an open, ongoing dialogue with the marketplace is critical. Clients and non-clients can participate – so I encourage you to be part of the conversations on Forrester blogs.
* We still have team blogs focused on role professionals. Our role blogs, such as the CIO blog and the Interactive Marketing blog, are a rollup of all the posts from the analysts serving that specific role professional. By following a role team blog, you can participate in all the conversational threads affecting a role.
* And now we’ve added analyst blogs as well. If you prefer to engage directly with your favorite analyst, you can. Look on the right-hand rail of the team blog and you’ll see a list of the analyst blogs. Just click on their name to go to their blog. Or type their name into “Search”. An analyst blog is a place for the analyst to get reaction to their ideas and connect with others shaping the marketplace. You’ll find the blogs to be personal in tone and approach.
If the seventies and eighties were dominated by technology-led innovation, with IT in the driving seat, the nineties and two thousands was surely the period of marketing-led innovation. With the emergence of social computing as such a big influence on business, spreading rapidly beyond the sole domain of marketing, it seems we are entering a new era - the era of Social Innovation.
In this era, innovation will be driven by empowered customers and employees and IT and Marketing will need to join forces and collaborate as never before. The CIO and the CMO, IT and Marketing, will jointly power this new era of Social Innovation by bringing together their extensive domain expertise to create a Social Innovation Network.
The way I see it, true Social Innovation goes beyond customer interaction and idea generation, it requires a powerful and coordinated network of players to take customer-generated innovation and to test, scale and implement it. IT has a key role to play in this Social Innovation Network as the broker, helping to connect the network players and components and to establish the management, strategy and technological backbone of the network.
We've just published our latest Vendor Positioning Review (VPR) benchmark of the IT management software market. This vendor-oriented report discusses how vendors market their solutions to you in collateral and on their Web sites. We focus on how well they talk Business Technology (BT) over IT — how well do they speak YOUR language. And we recognize how important B2B digital media has become in communicating with you — our most recent data shows that the percent of technology buyers that are most advanced in using social media, what we call the Creators and Critics, is nearly double that of the US consumer population in general.
The VPR report highlights a best practice (or two) in each of the categories that we evaluate.
In terms of providing you with social media facilities, the vendors are a mixture of active, indifferent and inactive. The good ones offer you a community Web page from their Home Page to access forums, join communities (even if only a support community) and see their blogs: kudos to BMC, CA, ManageEngine, newScale, Spiceworks and Splunk. EMC, HP Software, IBM Tivoli, Microsoft, Nimsoft, Quest and Symantec have the facilities as well but you need to be good to find them (who would think of looking under “About Symantec”?). ASG and Compuware aren’t there yet.
Many of the case studies you've seen me write about are B2C. But in the report on ROI of Social Media, I gathered data on B2B companies too. Here's a list of B2B communities.
Many people know Intel by their catch tune, "Inside Intel." And what's inside are the most amazing microprocessors that allow us to do great things back 25 years ago people could only imagine. Key to having been an innovator is always innovating. Intel- when they first came out with a new chip-- think back to the 286 processor and then transition to the 386. They met with some resistance in getting computer manufactuers to be interested in the chip. Why would you need more computing power?
So instead of staying stuck or ditching the product, Intel brought together a multidisciplinary team of individuals to tackle the problem. The net-net is that the team realized that its the end-user who is really their customer! when they went into computer shops and talked to the customers, they asked, "Would you like to be able to have many files open at once? Would you like to be able to run graphics programs, plays games, etc...." The customers responded positively with, "Of course we would!" That drove the computer store operators to tell the computer manufacturers to get those intel chips in their computers. Ah... I love that "voice of the customer" story.
But what I love more is that Intel innovated, why? Because they listened. That's a skill most companies don't have. And with social media, Intel has put their listening on dual processor tubro charged power. They know that their ability to innovate and lead the market is based on harnessing the power, knowledge and collaboration among customers, resellers, etc.. and Intel.
When we embarked on this project I wasn't sure if it would be a complete failure or a roaring success. Still, the optimist in me suggested it might work. The timing of launching the survey, just before the Christmas Holiday period was risky. However I'm pleased to say the results so far have been better than expected.
I've had the opportunity over the past year to work with a lot of banks and credit unions, insurance providers, and investment management firms. Marketers at financial services companies face a number of challenges other marketers don't -- most importantly, confusing and often ill-defined government regulations -- but yet I've been impressed with the social media efforts I've seen from many companies in this category.
I've decided to research and write a report on how financial services marketers can most effectively use social media. We'll be including lots of our data on how different types of financial customers engage with social media, of course -- but I'd also like to collect more insight from the marketers' perspective.
If you're a financial services marketer, and you're willing to walk us through examples of how you've used social media, talk to us about how you manage risk and work with your legal and compliance departments, and share with us some of the lessons you've learned in social media marketing, then we'd love to talk to you. You can contact me directly at: nelliott at forrester dot com. Thanks!