It is unquestionable that if done right, deploying communities in support of specific business processes can lead to game-changing benefits. To cite just a few examples:
- Ducati was able to fire their marketing department and replace it with a central customer community group responsible for all aspects of marketing – from product design and marketing communications, to creating the overall brand experience.
- In Germany, eBay was able to increase its revenue by 56% by getting existing eBay users to join customer communities.
- And through their “Connect and Develop” strategy – which involves employees, customers, prospects and even competitors, P&G is now able to derive 35% of their innovations and billions of dollars in revenue from the community it’s developed.
But it is also true that a majority of business community initiatives fail, and will continue to do so. Some companies focus too much on the technology architecture to support communities rather the social architecture – forgetting that some of the most successful communities are facilitated through email lists and discussion threads. Others are not investing enough in getting their communities up and running. And then, of course, you have those companies who try to exert too much control, not realizing that communities are like any complex system – you have too few rules and connections and the system disolves in chaos, too many and the system freezes up.
It is with these issues in mind that we are launching a new group blog on the Future of Communities. We have a terrific line up of contributors and hope that you will join the conversation.