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An island or an archipelago?

Is your social business software a point solution or an enterprise solution? An island or an archipelago?

Island or archipelago?

Is your community a bottle opener or a Swiss Army knife, a Kindle or an iPad? I think you get the message here. A one trick pony point solution is great at solving a short term need but will not meet your future UNKNOWN business requirements. If you are looking to future proof your investment in a community platform then its wise to consider the bigger picture now rather than later. Okay that’s kind of obvious and you’ve probably heard that pitch before, right? If its so obvious then why do people still buy online community point solutions? Let’s consider a uncoordinated community strategy for a large Fortune 500 corporation, randomly selecting point vendors for illustration:

The IT department are implementing Sharepoint for document management and switch on community features to try and start a community.
The VP Learning wants clients to embrace social learning so creates a community on their existing SABA Learning Management System.
The sales team use Chatter to collaborate in Salesforce.
The VP of Customer Support acquires Lithium for a Customer Community.
The SVP of Human Resources decides to get employees talking in a Telligent community.
The Chief Marketing Officer wants to engage potential customers online and selects the Awareness online community platform.
The Innovation Manager wants to enable idea sharing and pilots the Spigit platform.
The Market Research Manager gets feedback from a small community of customers on the Communispace platform.

The VP of Product Management now needs to create a developer community for employees, customers and partners to develop a product together – what platform should they select now? Some employees already have 3 different community logins; customers now have potentially 4 different logins, usernames and passwords. None of the communities talk to each other.

My prediction is enterprises will increasingly move away from point community solutions as they fail to meet all their demands. The vendors that offer communities focused on just one participant (e.g. employee or customer) will suffer the most from being unable to meet the evolving needs of their clients. Vendors supporting the broadest set of use cases eventually replicate the deep functionality of point solutions and offer a single enterprise community platform.

And now for the pitch: Commons supports many uses cases, including:

  • Customer Engagement such as social market research, customer support, Social CRM, or Social Marketing
  • Employee Enablement such as knowledge sharing, expertise location, and project collaboration
  • Private External Communities such as channel enablement, developer communities, or reseller engagement
  • Vertical use cases such as non-profits, open government, and open education

With superior integration with enterprise applications, and connectivity to the social web (Facebook/Twitter etc), Commons is ideally positioned to service enterprise needs.

If you have any stories of corporations with 'islands' of customer or employee communities which can not collaborate with each other, please share them with me – I'm keen to collect some more war stories on this trend!

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