I had an interesting discussion with a peer yesterday about why I build and research business communities and do not focus more on consumer communities. The charge was that we were missing opportunities to ride the media frenzy that currently surrounds social media.
Granted, enterprise communities are not as sexy as consumer communities: they don’t always use the latest tools and don’t garner nearly as much public attention as brand communities. No one is telling funny stories about social media for enterprise or creating cultural lore about them like in the consumer space. The footprint on the social media space is big and gentle because they are different; they take much longer to form a strategy around, grow at a slower rate, and focus exclusively on supporting business processes and decision support. But the appeal, the excitement, comes from making a real business impact and creating opportunities to connect traditionally isolated professionals, taking away real business pain, solving organizational problems in real and different ways.
Some enterprise community initiatives have the power to rock the (corporate) world. At INmobile.org some of the top executives in the wireless and mobile organizations share information about on the spot industry happenings, debate wireless topics and discuss new companies in the space; Lexis Nexis Martindale Hubbell is changing the way legal professionals connect with each other and develop new business opportunities; Cisco is creating collaboration mechanisms using social media to support business processes internally which will ultimately impact corporate strategy; EMC uses social media and community to share best practices about innovative products and harnesses the power of community to bring together practitioners; Cognizant uses community to help executives who outsource IT transition to a new global economy together through peer knowledge exchange. While many of the efforts go on behind firewalls or require vetted log ins to access, they are real and they are happening.
Through strategic use of professional communities and professional networks, a number of great things can happen:
* Key clients can get closer to their vendors processes and engage in co-creation by opening a dialogue before a product or service is fully baked;
* Common business issues can be discussed and the wisdom of peers can accelerate opportunities and understanding;
* New ways of working – collaboration efforts can increase and support decision making in ways never before possible.
Through B2B communities the information ecosystem is brought to life. Businesses are finding new and different ways of working together with their clients, vendors, and staffs.
So, while we don’t twitter for fun, or hop on the latest bandwagon of tools for cool, enterprise communities are slowly and powerfully changing the world. It is sexy after all, just in a more sophisticated way.Thank you for reading Building Online Communities for Business by Leader Networks. We are a research and strategy consulting company that helps organizations succeed in social business and B2B online community building.
Visit us on the web at http://www.leadernetworks.com. Connect with us on Twitter http://twitter.com/vdimauro Call us at 617 484 0778