This is the inaugural Community 2.0 conference being put on by Shared Insights. It's being held in Las Vegas March 12-14th.
Conference was kicked off by Barry Libert, CEO of Shared Insights, and then by Francois Goissieaux, the conference chair, who both stressed the mood of informality and strategic conversations.
JOHN HAGEL'S KEYNOTE
John Hagel led off with the keynote. See his blog. Edge Perspectives.
Here are his remarks:
I'm very encouraged about the commercial prospects of online communities.
My book NetGain was published in 1997, was one of the first to focus on online communities in business. Every business plan in 1998 claimed to be about virtual communities.. the result was a lot of wasted investment and backlash. Most of the virtual community initiatives have operated under the radar screen.
In the past 12 months, I've gotten a series of phone calls from blue chip execs asking for help with virtual communities. So my personal barometer says that there's a time for climate change.
Community 2.0 is heralding a rebirth of online communities.
One lesson learned from my book: people focused on the opportunities, not the challenges..
The first challenge has to do with language. What are virtual communities? (anything that involves conversations among people?
Hagel's definition of Virtual Communities:
Establishing connections among people with common needs on shared networks.
- Shared Discussions among people over time.
- Shared relationships.
- Shared identity with one another and with the community.
- Shared meaning that grows over time.
The resurgence in virtual communities? They respond to deep needs we all have.
Virtual communities take a couple of different forms. Some started in physical space and became electronic. Others started electronically and added the physical community aspect.
THE CORE CHALLENGES
Diverse Skills and cultural challenges:
- Combining published content with interactions
- Social Interaction -- How do you catalyze and sustain relationships
- Economic business models --
Every community starts with a spike in one of these three areas.. but don't do a good job of combing all three.
Three key shifts in mindsets:
- Move from a benefit to sponsor focus to a participant focus
- Move from short-term, get rich quick focus into long term value creation focus
- Move from a top-down, imposed organization view to a bottom up emergent organization view.
You can't control them. You want to enhance the initiatives of the participants. Most large companies bring mindsets that are
Organizational Challenges and Organizational Frameworks required
- Organization-Who's accountable? Do they have the status and influence within the organization to mobilize the resources and talent required to foster community? Are they too narrowly focused in their interests? Marketing/Customer Support/Product Development or any other functional area? If the person has a narrow view, the community's focus will be narrowed.
- Systems-What is being measured and what is being rewarded? How will they define success? What are the relevant operational metrics? Are there systematic reviews? Do we reflect on how we're doing?
- Skills-Who has the relevant experience? Are they being mobilized into the virtual communities?
WHAT ARE THE OPPORTUNITIES?
From a broader business context--these will make virtual communities essential to success of the overall business over time. All companies are facing two pressures on profitability:
- From Customers
- From Talent -- people with talent
Corporations are beginning to realize their success hinges on their ability to build and retain talent. More mobility and more opportunities to strike out on your own. Talent is becoming more valuable and requires more bargaining power.
How can I create an environment that will develop talent better than anyone else. They'll be able to develop their talents more rapidly in my company.
Customers getting more power; Talent gaining more power; Companies stuck in the middle.
How do you define performance in this new era?
- ROA--Return on Attention. It's critical to look at this both from the participants and the organizers. The scarcest resource is the attention of people. How we choose to allocate our 24 hour days determines who creates value and who destroys value. Of the total attention that I allocate to a source, what's the return on that attention? How much attention do I receive as a participant from other participants, and how much value to I derive from that? How much effort and resource was required to gain the attention of the participants, and how much value was gained from that attention. Reducing the costs to attract attention, gain value and retain retention. For customers, I would focus on key questions. Who are the 20% of the customers who generate 80% of your profitability? What can be done to engage those high-profitability customers? How can customer communities be designed to strengthen the lifetime value of all customers--a broader swath than the top 20%. We need to do more than help participants search for things that are valuable. More important is focusing on serendipity. How do I create environments that introduce participants to resources they didnt' even know existed. Recommendation: Read Peter Morville's Ambient Findability. This ultimately leads to "fundability." If you're findable, you're more fundable. One-to-one marketing focus diminishes the "return on attention" equation. The customer wants a broader range of options and a broader set of resources. The ability to connect each person with multiple people.. more published content, more contributor-generated content, more customers... This is hard for companies who want to limit choice (they don't want to include their competitors).. Maybe the natural owners of these virtual communities are third-parties.
- ROI- Return on Information- Information meaning profiles of participants. Who these people are , what their needs are, what their interests are. How much Info have I provided? How much effort was that? How much value have I received? From an organizer perspective, how much information can we gain that is volunteered? What can we do with that info in order to deliver more value to them? What more can we do to learn about participants by watching them interact vs. asking them things? How can we be more helpful to participants based on information and activity.. Leverage serendipity.. offer resources. How can we shorten the time between the time someone offers info and the time they get value back..
- ROS- Return on Skills - Talent is more and more valuable as an asset. Focus on this from a participant perspective and from a provider perspective. Given the amount of effort I have put into the community or in developing my skills, or by amplifying my skills thru social interactions. For organizers--am I able to motivate our skilled people to participate and to gain value and learning from the people who matter most to them--our customers--?
In general, we've made a distinction historically, we've made a distinction between communities of interest and communities of practice. With communities of practice being groups of people who are working on a shared project, e.g. open sources software. I believe that these boundaries will blur. Why? Because we have pressures intensifying for people to deepen their skills. People want to adopt their passion as their profession. Seek out communities who support their passion and who can aid in their development.
As customers get more involved, they'll want to be more active in the design and delivery of the products and services they need to meet their needs.
We're seeing these boundaries between communities of interest and communities of practice coming together. Becoming the catalyst in the shift between push programs and pull platforms.
There's a broad spectrum of opportunity in virtual communities. Not just connection. But broadening and deepening those interactions over time. Joint construction and creation activities.