In the webinar today on the 2008 Tribalization of Business Study that we did with Deloitte and The Society of New Communications Research it was interesting to see how more attendees who attended the webinar had their communities managed by IT rather than by Marketing. Of course, the poll is not scientific and does not reflect the percentage of companies who have their communities managed by IT, as multiple attendees could belong to the same company – but it is an interesting trend that somewhat confirmed a recent Forrester report that got some commentary in the blogosphere.
So is it a good idea to have your community efforts led by IT, or not?
Personally I think it is not a good idea for two reasons. First off, the default first step that you would expect an IT department to focus on is technology. And as we have found and documented, that is the wrong place to start. If your community will not survive in a discussion thread it will not survive anywhere. The key forces generating dynamics of increasing returns are content, members, member profiles and transaction – not the technology infrastructure nor the social infrastructure as described in this post.
The second reason why IT may be the wrong place to start is because if they get the budget and the mandate to build a community, they will do exactly that – build one. And yet your community may already exist somewhere else – on Facebook, Yahoo Groups, or in some other user-started community like the Tivo community. If that is the case then the best results from leveraging communities will be gained from engaging with the community on their existing turf instead of going through the expense of trying to get them to relocate on your turf.
What is your opinion?