Develop Your Networked Business Pilot in Less Than an Hour: Worksheet

Many organizations are struggling to understand and respond to the changes being driven by the Collaborative (some say On Demand or Sharing) Economy. A simple way to get started is to think about 1) what assets you have to offer and 2) how digital networks enable distribution, usage of and collaboration with those assets. This process is another element of a concept I am calling “Network Thinking”.levis

I’ve developed a short exercise to help organizations think through ideas, threats and opportunities, and develop a simple plan to start pilot programs. When I facilitate this exercise at workshops and events it is designed to take 45 minutes. using time as a constraint and forcing function. I typically do a quick briefing on communities and the collaborative economy before running the exercise. If you need inspiration, I’ve added a video of a recent talk at the end of this post.

You can download the worksheet here.

Page 1: Synthesis, Threats, Opportunities & Inventory

Synthesis – 5 min
Quickly list ideas about the Collaborative / On Demand / Sharing Economy that resonate, inspire and challenge you.

Disruptive Threats – 5 min
Think through and list the disruptive threats to your business. Startups that are emerging and offering your product or service at a discount, a privileged position in a market that is eroding, etc. 

Transformational Opportunities – 5 min
Explore and list the transformational opportunities at hand, as you currently understand them. This could be a new line of business enabled by digital technologies, replacing your current distribution channel with one that is based on customers or online. 

Inventory – 10 min
Explore and list all assets available to you. 
Consider any tangible asset, including office space, IP, product archives, talent, supply chain, customer talent, etc.

The first page of the worksheet, with the sections described above:
Networked Assets Worksheet @Structure3c

Page 2: Ideation & Action Plan

Ideation Canvas – 10 min
Take the list of assets from page one and list them across the x axis on the bottom of the diagram. Going up the y axis for each stakeholder group, think about how that asset might be used by or with the stakeholder group to create new business value. A simple example is shown on the second image below. The asset “office space” could be used by Partners as a sublet or on-demand office space, or the space could be used by customers or the crowd as a makerspace.

Action Plan – 10 min
Taking inputs from page 1, and reviewing all of the ideas generated on the Ideation Canvas, list your 3 best ideas, develop a short pitch, and answer 3 key questions about getting started.

The second page of the worksheet, with the sections described above:Networked Assets Worksheet @Structure3c
The second page of the worksheet, with the ideation canvas partially completed:Networked Assets Worksheet @Structure3c

In Summary:

In less than an hour you have a solid draft of a possible Collaborative Economy initiative. You can use this output as a tool to start conversations in your organization about a pilot program, or use the Worksheet as part of an internal workshop or planning meeting.

I use this tool in many of my workshops. If you are interested in discussing my workshop offerings, or hosting a facilitated version of this exercise at your company or during a retreat, please reach out to my assistant to schedule some time to connect.

My recent session at the Online Community Tribe Meetup in SF gives an overview of the Collaborative Economy and introduces the concept of Network Thinking as a tool to help organizations explore future business models in the Collaborative Economy.

Want to Know What Community Members (a.k.a. Customers) Need? Just Ask.

Are you “Member Shy”?

In its most basic form, a community strategy is a balance of an organization’s goals and its member’s (a.k.a customer’s) needs. Organizations have methodologies for developing goals and objectives, yet I continue to be surprised at how many organizations are missing research as a core part ofthoughtballoon their online community development process. Even for organizations that are highlighted as examples of “getting it”, there are still cases where the community wasn’t engaged in research about a major platform change, feature enhancement or policy shift (the historical / hysterical facebook privacy anyone?). In many cases there seems to be a real fear (or at least discomfort) in connecting 1 to 1 with customers. That fear could be rooted in the inability to have meaningful interaction at scale, the overhead associated with regular contact, or the lack of an evolved organizational culture that encourages this type of interaction. Any community development (or refinement) initiative *requires* the input and direction of the members.

Note: I will be using the terms “member” and “customer” interchangeably in this post. I will also use the term “member” as a placeholder for current and potential members of a community.

Why Conduct Member Research?

Conducting member needs research as part of the strategy development process brings the voice of customer to the center of the strategy, and helps create a lens through which to focus your community building activities. As I mentioned in my kickoff post to “Network Thinking“, there are really five core questions to frame your community strategy:

  1. WHO are your customers?
  2. WHY are they motivated to build relationships with each other? 
  3. WHERE do they want to build relationships with each other? 
  4. HOW do they want to build relationships with each other? 
  5. WHAT value can you provide as a HOST to strengthen and deepen these relationships over time? 

Member research can also help answer more tactical questions like:

  • What role should you play as host, and what community activities should you facilitate?
  • What types of content and features should be present in the community?
  • Should the community be an “on domain” destination, or should the community presence extend on to other sites, like Facebook?
  • What types of members does the community want to include?
  • What type of culture does the community need to thrive?
  • What activities are members prepared to participate in that will directly or indirectly benefit the host?
  • What types of marketing and advertising would members find acceptable?

Techniques for Conducting Member Research

The process for conducting member research is straightforward: decide on the appropriate techniques given your budget, recruit subjects, conduct the research and analyze the results. Great places to recruit research subjects:

  • Your existing community
  • Your blog
  • Your corporate web site
  • Partners
  • Newsletter mailing lists
  • Customer Conferences
  • Independent communities about your product or in your market or topic area
  • Facebook or Linkedin groups about your product or in your market or topic area
  • Using social network analysis tools like LittleBird or NodeXL to analyze open networks like Twitter.

One on One Interviews
One on one interviews can be conducted either in-person or over the phone. The key ingredients are a customer, an interviewer, a notetaker and a simple interview script (a sample can be found below). Interviews can be as short as 30 minutes, and generally should last no more than an hour. In my experience, a minimum of 5-6 interviews will yield useful themes and give good data for strategy direction. If your community will serve many different products, market segments, or customer types a good rule of thumb is to try and do interviews with at least 3 people from each segment. One on One interviews can also be augmented nicely by a follow up online survey to a larger group, in order to drill down further on issues uncovered in the initial round of interviews. Interviews can be conducted in person, via a hangout (or other video chat service), or over the phone.

Group Sessions
Another great way to get feedback, and to get a lot of feedback at once is to conduct a group feedback session. This is similar to the one on one interviews, except you are guiding a group of members through the script, as opposed to just one. Involving multiple subjects at once increases the complexity of the process, so be sure to have someone skilled at facilitation leading the session to keep the conversation on track (per the script), as well as to ensure that all participants have equal air time to give their opinions and feedback.

Online Surveys
The fastest, and often lowest overhead way to get member feedback is to create a short online survey to send to research participants. Online surveys are really great at getting quick quantitative feedback, and the results (depending on the tool) are fairly easily to analyze and study. A few issues with online surveys are that the quality of the results depends on the quality of the questions, and in particular, thinking through appropriate choices for multiple choice questions, and also creating effect write in questions that will yield helpful qualitative feedback.

In most cases for the community and social media strategy work I do at Structure3C, I will generally start with an online survey to at least 100 community members,and follow up by conducting a set of 7-10 one on one interviews with community members.

Questions to Ask During Research

There are essentially 5 overarching questions for your community strategy, 4 of which you want to answer as an output of member research:

  1. Why do community members want to build relationships with each other? What do community members need from each other? Explore what community members might desire from interactions with other community members, and try to understand why they are motivated to sustain this activity over time. Answers could range from knowledge sharing, to providing mentoring, to ongoing professional or personal support.
  2. Where do you customers want to build relationships with each other? This question is particularly important to avoid duplicating community features and value that exist elsewhere. The key insight to uncover in this line of questioning is what unique value you can provide in your hosted community AND which external communities and social media sites you need to participate in in order to create a holistic community presence. Increasingly, mobile presents a unique opportunity to host your customer network in fundamentally new ways.
  3. How do members want to build relationships with each other? What value can community members contribute / exchange? It is important to understand what ways community members are capable of, prepared to and willing to participate. Participation could include sharing domain expertise, offering content samples, answering support questions, or even just participating in casual online conversation.
  4. What do community members need from you as the host? Ask questions that explore member expectations of your organization in the role of host. What are the member expectations around your level of participation, your effort in developing content, in fostering participation and your commitment to hosting the community long-term?
Screen Shot 2016-02-18 at 6.06.10 AM
Example of a Social Presence Map to illustrate a dynamic community ecosystem, from my portfolio of work at Dell.

In order to answer the key questions, you will need to ask a series of baseline demographics questions (for context), as well as exploring each of the four key questions in a more granular way. A sampling of questions that can be used to create a script or facilitation guide are included below.

A simple list of survey or interview questions might include:

  • Name, organization, title, a brief role description
  • Browser and mobile preferences: Chrome vs Safari, iOS vs Andriod, etc.
  • What information sources do you rely on (relating to the topic of the community)?
  • What groups (on/offline) are you a member of (relating to the topic of the community)?
  • What products / services do you use (relating to the topic of the community)?
  • What is the biggest challenge you face in your day to day work (assuming this relates to the topic of the community)?
  • How satisfied are you with the level and type of communication you have with organization x?
  • Do you currently participate in any of the following social media activities: blogging, discussion forums, facebook, twitter, youtube etc (shape the list based on your market)
  • What information, insight or content do you want to share with other customers?
  • What kinds of information would be helpful for other customers to share with you?
  • If organization x were to offer the following content or features, please rate how useful each would be to you: discussion forums, expert Q&A, tutorials & tips, video previews, customer blogs, etc.
  • Would you be interested in connecting with other members at local, in-person events?
  • Exploring usability issues around current experiences and apps

In Summary:

I’ve seen investment in member research pay off consistently, just as I’ve seen the severe cost of not conducting member research hamper or sink many community initiatives. In short: Want to know what your members want from their online community? Just ask.

Customer & member research is a core part of my community development practice at Structure3C. If you are starting a new community or crowd initiative, my team can plan and deliver community research to build a strong foundation for your program. You can book time with my through my assistant Karelyn.

The Secret Ingredient for Customer Lifecycle Marketing? Community Management.

A recent benchmarking report from Demand Metric on Customer Lifecycle Marketing illustrates the impact of aligning marketing efforts around a customer journey model. The report also illustrates a number of blindspots that are derailing Customer Lifecycle Marketing efforts.

The missing ingredient? Community Management.

First, highlights from the report (direct quote):

The analysis of this study’s data provides these key findings:

  • The study found that less than 20% of organizations are currently marketing across the entire customer lifecycle.
  • Participants spend twice as much of their marketing budgets on acquiring new customers as on retaining existing ones. (Yet most of their revenue comes from existing customers!)
  • Almost 90% of the study participants indicate that marketing currently owns the understanding and management of the customer lifecycle.
  • Of the lifecycle stages – Awareness, Consideration, Purchase, Retention and Advocacy – Awareness enjoys the greatest clarity of ownership, with marketing owning the stage 88% of the time. Retention is most fragmented, with few organizations defining clear ownership of this stage.
  • The Awareness and Consideration stages enjoy “adequate” or “ample” levels of investment for over 70% of study participants. Retention and Advocacy both fall at the “minimal” to “none” level of funding for 55% of study participants.
  • The greatest benefit to executing a customer lifecycle marketing strategy is greater customer engagement.
  • The greatest challenge to marketing across the customer lifecycle is understanding customer content needs.
  • 72% of strategy adherents are experiencing a revenue lift from customer lifecycle marketing.
  • Over three-fourths of participants plan to increase their commitment to and investment in customer lifecycle marketing.
PardotDemandMetric-Marketing-Effectiveness-by-Journey-Stage-Dec2015
Excellent summary graph from MarketingCharts.com

Clearly Customer Lifecycle Marketing is incredibly valuable when all stages of the lifecycle are addressed. So what is the problem? Based on my direct experience and years of studying the intersection of marketing and online community, I would assert that building meaningful relationships at scale is still an undeveloped function in the majority of most organizations. Further, as the data from the report shows, the “ownership” for customer retention is scattered among many departments. Add to the mix the eternal debate about “who owns social / community” and things get even more messy.

So what is a modern marketing organization to do? Consider three things:

  1. Community Drives Customer Lifecycle
    A modern definition of online communities expands the location of “community” to be any on or offline touchpoint where customers can meet and form relationships. A modern definition also expands the concept of community management to include any form of relationship building and nurturing. Modern online communities produce a range of value for customers and businesses. Peer to peer support is the classic example, yet modern approaches include a range of deep collaboration on new product development to expansive crowdfunding campaigns – and everything in between. Community can play a valuable role in every stage of the customer lifecycle, and can often be the connective tissue to hold the entire experience together.
    Screen Shot 2016-01-07 at 6.03.39 AM
  2. Treat Engagement & Retention as a Community Management Opportunity
    The practice of building and nurturing customer relationships is a job modern community managers understand very well. In particular, Community Managers can be very effective as resources in Customer Nurture campaigns during the consideration phase. I had my community management team at Autodesk reboot a nurture campaign that supported a 30 day product trial, and the results were amazing.

    nurture
    Example Customer Nurture email from a Community Manager

    Further, Customer Advocacy programs grew (at least partially) out of Community Advocate / MVP programs. It is a relatively straightforward process to scale current Advocacy programs to include different customer types. There is also a massive opportunity to harmonize Influencer programs (which typically look outside of existing communities) with Advocacy programs. These are essentially two sides of the same coin – Advocates have typically been nurtured through a hosted community and Influencers have established their own communities and networks. A modern Community Manager treats these contexts as part of the larger community ecosystem.

    Treating engagement and retention as a community management opportunity allows the staff with the skills to manage relationships at scale do what they do best. This is a huge missed opportunity in marketing.

  3. Get Real About Digital Transformation & Social Business
    A modern approach to online community takes into account the entire digital ecosystem, not just single online touchpoints. A modern approach to community management nurtures engagement across the digital ecosystem. So if Community Managers know how to address the key gaps illustrated in the Demand Metric report, what’s the problem? Why isn’t it happening? There are many answers, but one factor that has had a huge negative impact is the trend of Digital Transformation initiatives absorbing (or in some cases, abandoning) Social Business efforts. I expand on (and in some ways, rant about) this in my 2015 recap post. Most Digital Transformation initiatives have focused on technology at the cost of customer engagement. Many Social Leadership teams and organizations have been disbanded or fractured and embedded to the point of being ineffective. Customer Experience initiatives often focus on superficial and in the moment customer engagements at the cost of growing the life long relationship.Bottom Line: We need a new Leadership model that addresses not only the Company : Customer relationship but also the complex network of Customer : Customers :  Company  relationships.

Netting it out:

  • To create successful Customer Lifecycle Marketing initiatives, modern marketers must include online community and community managers.
  • Community Managers can help address the current engagement and retention gaps in Customer Lifecycle Marketing programs.
  •   Organizations need to renew focus and investment in Online Community Leadership to drive growth via Customer Lifecycle Marketing

I am working with a portfolio of clients on evolving their community and marketing programs (lifecycle, influencer & advocacy, community management). I am also kicking off the year by offering a complimentary consultation session (for a limited time & very limited slots). If you would like to get feedback and guidance on your 2016 plans, feel free to register for a consultation here. 

My First Year as a Consultant and what 2016 Holds for Online Communities (I hope)

Sonoma Sunrise
Sonoma Sunrise in honor of the dawn of 2016

Honestly, I wasn’t going to do this. I’m already rolling eyes at all the “prediction” posts. And there are way too many 2015 retrospectives to look back on… but I’m feeling optimistic and inspired! You are taking the time to read this – THANK YOU! I have had an incredible amount of support for my first year of Structure3C. Thank you for being part of it.

This is a long-ish post – the short version is a list of personal highlights from 2015, and a look ahead to 3 big ideas and aspirations for 2016.

A Look back at the first year of Structure3C

Thank you for letting me take a moment to reflect on a few key accomplishments from this year.

  • Launching Structure3C on February 4, 2015 to help brands create successful customer communities and crowdsourcing initiatives
  • Chairing the inaugural Collaborative Economy conference in San Francisco in March
  • Conducting the first research study on Brands & The Collaborative Economy – exploring a range of organizations level of knowledge, interest, priority and current activities in the Collaborative Economy
  • Having a number of prominent speaking engagements, including SxSWi, Social Business Forum 2015 (Milan), The Silicon Valley Boomer Business Summit and Crowdsourcing Week Europe (Brussels) 
  • Helping a growing portfolio of brand and startup clients with briefings, crowdsourcing strategy, online community development and product design
  • Being interviewed by Virgin Entrepreneur on Crowdsourcing
  • Holding the closing workshop at the Crowd Companies 2015 Main Event in SF – (you can download my custom workbook from the event)
  • Being honored as one of the inaugural A. Barry Rand Fellows for the Life Reimagined Institute
  • And on a personal note: I made a commitment to my family to be present more throughout the year – one lagging indicator of success is the number of pancakes and pieces of french toast made in 2015 numbers just shy of 1,000! (disclaimer: back of the napkin calculation)

3 Big Ideas for 2016:

1.) Beyond “Digital Transformation” 

In 2015, it seemed like Digital Transformation ate the business world. Almost overnight, the big consultancies dropped “Social Business” and began to sell Digital Transformation strategies. Thought leaders and former champions of social published articles and books about establishing, then disrupting “Digital Business”. Former Social Centers of Excellence were abandoned or repurposed for the “new” digital business journey.

In some ways, this is completely logical. Big consultancies need to keep clients anxious and their armies of consultants employed. Thought leaders need a constant stream of new terms, concepts and frames to stay relevant and top of mind. Executives need to frame annual objectives in ways that are novel and show progress year over year.

And, let’s face it: Social, Community, Customer Collaboration are all hard. Really hard.

Getting Real
Obviously, technology plays a critical role in modern business. The problem with many Digital Transformation efforts is a hyperfocus on the technology at the cost strategy and customer relationships.

Further, the definition of “Social Business” was always somewhat nebulous, and the internal culture shift and alignment needed to be successful was an arduous task. Pursuing a primarily technology-driven agenda likely seems more attainable, and “Digital” is an easier sell – both the perceived value and anticipated results.

What is lost in the shift from social to digital is the opportunity to fully realize the business value of connected customer relationships at scale. Realized specifically through strategies based on networks, communities and deep collaboration. Sound nebulous? I’ve shaped and seen first hand the value of social and community in the form of increased direct revenue, increased loyalty, crowd driven products and early market dominance based on building communities in parallel with products. Examples: The quantified value of Dell’s IdeaStorm was in the hundred’s of millions of dollars, Dell’s TechCenter community had billions of dollars in impact on Large Enterprise sales, Autodesk’s support community saves the company millions of dollars a year… I could go on.

2.) Digital / Social Business reframed as Business, Networked

Based on my experience building online communities and collaborative experiences, as well as research I’ve conducted, I’m convinced that a new and comprehensive approach to online communities is the way forward.

An approach where:

  • What we thought of as “social” is really the networked marketplace
  • Your market is synonymous with your crowd
  • Online communities build lasting relationships amongst your customers, prospects, employees and partners and
  • Collaboration looks like a true partnership with customers, not an internal social network no one really uses.

Market as a Network

 

 

 

In order to begin exploring business opportunities in the networked economy, businesses need to shift their mindset to think about markets as networks. Their total addressable market(s), connected via platforms & social networks.

There are three important contexts to think about in the Network Marketplace:

  • Crowd: A group within a Market Network that has:
    • A shared interest or goal
    • The ability and assets to participate in a shared marketplace, task or activity via common platforms
  • Community A connected & hosted group within a Market Network that has:
    • 1 or more shared interests or goals, leading to shared identity & purpose
    • The ability, motivation and assets to work towards a common purpose over time
    • A host with intention to support & manage community over time
  • Collaborative Organization Collaboration amongst organizations, partners and customers essentially functioning as one organization:
    • Shared IP & Common resources
    • Shared vision of activities and outcomes
    • Shared risks and equitable outcomes

3.) Radical New Leadership

To truly make progress in the evolving online community strategy we need new leadership, and evolved (not incremental) vision. This requires a shift from quarterly-driven decision making by businesses and a “sell what we have” mentality from our collective social vendors. Specifically:

Corporations

  • A new function that owns customer experience across every touchpoint – and further – owns developing the 1:Many relationships in the market network, not just 1:1
  • A new Executive to lead this function
  • Integration of platforms, systems and customer data that create internal efficiencies, better customer experiences, and put the customer in control of their experience, relationships and data
  • A new point of view on value, and specifically, the value of customer engagement and participation. The days of customers supporting other customers without compensation are coming to an end.

Vendors

  • We need a bolder vision for online community platforms and social media & network tools. Platforms now are: 1) optimized around specific functions, like peer to peer support 2) are incredibly hard to customize and 3) are incredibly hard to integrate. We need better from you.
  • Reign in sales-driven organizations that over-promise and under-deliver on community quality and outcomes.
  • We need vendors to come together on feature & data standards and interoperability. Just to pick a specific example: The current disconnect between CRM, Marketing Automation and Community Platforms (even from the SAME vendor) is unbelievable. Invest in fixing it.

Thought Leaders

  • You need something new to talk about and sell. I get it. I humbly ask:
    • Connect the dots between your concepts, especially when retiring an old concept for a new one.
    • Talk to your peers in the industry when selling new ideas so clients aren’t dealing with 10 flavors of the same burning platform concept.
    • Show your source data when you have it.
    • Attribution is appreciated. Especially for concepts you are essentially recycling.

Industry Organizers

  • Show you really care about the future of the industry by cooperating on standard definitions, benchmarks and training
  • Try to coordinate conference data and overarching themes
  • When collecting practice data you intend to use for consulting or products, please provide a disclaimer at point of collection.

Do you agree? What would you add to this list?

With that said, 2016 is shaping up to be even more fun.

A preview includes:

  • An upcoming announcement for a series of Crowd Economy “Rapid Orientation Workshops”
  • Select speaking engagements focused on describing a Modern Approach to Online Community Building by developing Market Networks
  • Ongoing research into how Brands continue to evolve their Crowd and Community business strategies
  • An expanded set of consulting offerings, including modules for leadership & team development, value / ROI analysis and scorecard development. 

Should we talk? I’m offering a limited number of free introductory consultations (via phone). I’d love to learn more about your community & crowd plans for 2016, and I promise your will take away new ideas from our call.

Book a call here. 

In the spirit of the New Year, I wish you a peaceful and epic 2016. Thank you for helping make Structure3C ‘s first year a success!

Collaborative Economy Roundup for the Week of November 16, 2015

Collaborative Economy Roundup

With the horrible events of last week in Paris, Beirut, Israel and Kenya on my mind as we start the work week, I want to encourage everyone to think of ways to use connected technologies to bring us together instead of pulling us apart (as the extreme elements want). I wish you all a peaceful and productive week.

See something we missed? Email us, we’d love to hear from you.

3 Reads To Start Your Week

The Best of Last Week

1.   “Is the Sharing Economy a Retail Disruptor?” via eMarketer – “The sharing economy has emerged over the past decade to revolutionize travel and transportation. Is a similar disruption coming to retail?” – http://goo.gl/yrmGl0

2.  “Zipcar’s Co-Founder Weighs In on the Sharing Economy” via Bloomberg Business- “I think it’s one sub set of a much larger movement of platforms and people that are really reinventing the way we build businesses.” – http://goo.gl/q4lJZ6

3. “Future of the Global Workplace: The Growth of the Sharing Economy” via Radius – “Simple in concept, the sharing economy is also disruptive and has the potential to change the nature of work and careers.” – http://goo.gl/XZNt43

4. “We Need a Social Economy, Not a Hyper-Financialized Plantation Economy” via Charles Hugh Smith  – “What we need is a social economy, an economy that recognizes purposes and values beyond maximizing private gains by any means necessary, which is the sole goal of hyper-financialized economies.” – http://goo.gl/8H0G4z

5. “Be Your Own Boss” via Industry Leaders – “This economy isn’t a trend; it’s a new way of working.” – http://goo.gl/soUVsZ

6. “Airbnb is trying to resuscitate its image as the ‘nice guys’ of the sharing economy” via Fusion – “Airbnb, the company pledged, would share anonymized data on hosts and guests with cities, take steps to prevent illegal hotels from existing on the platform, and pay its ‘fair share’ of hotel and tourist taxes in cities that require it to.” – http://goo.gl/MtFZHU

7. “The sharing economy is people fueled and cloud powered” via Dell – “While many companies within the sharing economy—also called the collaborative economy—are just coming into their own, they’re actually not new.” – https://goo.gl/qrwxan

8. “Why I’m All For The Sharing Economy” via Odyssey – “The most profoundly positive aspect that the sharing economy has is its benefits for consumers.” – http://goo.gl/RNDpdS

9. “How the Sharing Economy Can Create Value from Waste” via The World Post – “We as a global society are beginning to pause and question before discarding something that might be of value to someone, no matter how remote or disconnected.” – http://goo.gl/NA62cd

10. “Secrets of the Sharing Economy” via BusinessMatters – “New research suggests that far from being the preserve of the millennial, the Sharing Economy is being more readily embraced by older consumers, with 35-44 year-olds emerging as its most vocal supporters.” – http://goo.gl/C44UM3

Don’t forget to register for our Collaborative Economy Kickstart Workshop. Space is limited, so get your tickets today: https://goo.gl/js28NG

Want to get this list in your inbox every Friday? Subscribe here: http://eepurl.com/brbju5

Collaborative Economy Roundup for the Week Ending November 6th

coll_econ_11_6_15

This week saw 2 major events in public policy & politics related to the Collaborative Economy: The defeat of Prop F, which sought to limit the rights of AirBNB hosts and the SEC approving an expanded set of rules for equity crowdfunding. See something we missed? Email us, we’d love to hear from you.

1.  “Housing and Homeless Activists Storm and Occupy Airbnb HQ” via SF Weekly – “A day before San Francisco voters will decide whether to regulate ‘home-sharing’ more strictly, the activists sought to show the short-term rental company what ‘sharing’ is all about.” – http://goo.gl/IUwyFK 

2. “After S.F. ballot victory, Airbnb to create global army of political supporters” via Upstart Business Journal – “Airbnb’s $8.5 million campaign against Proposition F may have won it a victory in a battle over short-term home rental restrictions in San Francisco, but the tech company isn’t slowing down its political efforts any time soon.” AirBNB will “start 100 home-sharing clubs across the United States and internationally, creating an army of supporters to take on future political battles.”

3. “Announcing a New Online Workshop: The Collaborative Economy Kickstart” via Structure3C – “In 2.5 hours, participants will get a briefing on the Collaborative Economy, a facilitated exercise to guide ideation and action planning and 30 minutes of group coaching to begin their journey in the Collaborative Economy.” – http://goo.gl/3RrHHu

4. “The SEC Just Approved Rules Opening Up Equity Crowdfunding to the General Public In a 3-1 Vote” via Entrepreneur – “With the passing of this new set of rules, entrepreneurs can sell pieces of their companies to anyone who has the interest and cash to do so.” – http://goo.gl/jEGSHL

5. “How Platform Coops Can Beat Death Stars Like Uber to Create a Real Sharing Economy” via Shareable – “It might be the most important economic decision we ever make, but most of us don’t even know we have a choice.” – http://goo.gl/uTCZUw

6. “How the Sharing Economy Can Improve Your Next Business Trip” via Harvard Business Review – “If you want to use on-demand apps to squeeze every last minute of value out of your travel, you can and should make them part of your trip from the moment you start planning.” – https://goo.gl/DsqTOb

7. “How Developing Nations Can Leapfrog Developed Countries with the Sharing Economy” via The World Post – “A recent study by Zogby Analytics found that 54 percent of millennials are attracted to the notion of sharing goods, services and experiences in Collaborative Commons.” – http://goo.gl/jr8cmx

8. “Being a part of the sharing economy” via the Economic Times – “Meanwhile, cities and countries around the world have had to decide whether to treat sharing companies as innovators or scofflaws.” – http://goo.gl/t3QcP3

9. “The future of the sharing economy: boom, brand or bust” via Marketing Magazine – “These companies are a response to consumer demand for efficiency, value and convenience and, in the process, are dramatically altering the business models of their industries.” – http://goo.gl/pNIR1r

10.  “The Sharing Economy Is Booming in Helsinki: Here’s Why” via Truthout – “Helsinki’s sharing scene puts the lie to the widespread misapprehension that the sharing economy comprises only a handful of major for-profit players (Uber, Airbnb), and serves as an example of how local history and culture can positively shape a technology-influence social and economic change.” – http://goo.gl/U3OHpR

11. “Is The Legal Profession Ready For The Sharing Economy?” via Above the Law – “While in many ways the emerging sharing economy represents an entirely new way of doing business that is disrupting the old order, sharing economy companies still rely on the age-old concept of trust to promote transactions between actors.” – http://goo.gl/etUND4

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Collaborative Economy Roundup for the Week Ending October 30

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Your Weekly
#‎CollabEcon Roundup for the Week Ending October 30
We hope everyone is geared up for an extra #spooky Halloween weekend. Uber’s latest valuation and funding round might be scary (actually, terrifying!) We’ll get you up to speed on this week’s best #CollabEcon articles. Just settle in with some trick or treat goodies and read the best the web has to offer this week:

1.  “Can the Commission collaborate on the collaborative economy?” via Science|Business – “At a Brussels news conference, top EU officials had different perspectives on taxi-sharing and other aspects of the ‘sharing’ economy.” – https://goo.gl/ioy5jj

2.  “Developing the Sharing Economy” via Economy Watch – “For any policy in this area to be effective, it needs to grapple with and challenge some underlying assumptions about the ‘sharing economy’ and its associated rhetoric.” – http://goo.gl/ylbgbY

3. “Interview with Uber: Creating a Frictionless Experience That Spawned A Generation of Copycats” via PSFK – “The Uber experience has also impacted consumer expectations across industries: if people can call a driver, organize a ride within minutes and pay for their trip at the tap of a button, why shouldn’t all service brands apply this same methodology?” – http://goo.gl/QSdl07

4. “Today’s sharing economy will shape our future” via The Daily Northwestern – “This recent unprecedented rise in the so-called ‘sharing economy’ is not just defining our careers, but also actively reshaping our daily lives and even our mental approach toward consumption.” – http://goo.gl/WWNuKN

5. “Following Uber’s Success, Copycats Rush To Carve Out Niches” via NewsFactor – “Uber has become a hip shorthand for efficient transportation and seamless commerce, a digital darling that turns your smartphone into a matchmaker between you and your ride home.” – http://goo.gl/PlLF1g

6. “FIR Interview: Jeremiah Owyang On Competing In The Collaborative Economy” via FIR Podcast Network – “The collaborative (or sharing) economy is heating up, with dramatic increases in both the number of startups that employ the model and the number of consumers who use them.” – http://goo.gl/DsV8Ha

7. “A Revolt Is Coming for Cloud Labor” via The WorldPost – “We are on the cusp of a revolution in the way work and labor are done.” – http://goo.gl/wucpNX

8.  “A worldwide paradigm shift from ‘sharing’ to ‘collaborative’ economy?” via LabGov– “Most importantly, it’s only if and when each and all of us gets directly involved in such a process that we together can make a difference – suggesting a more than necessary shift toward a more participatory and collaborative economy.” – http://goo.gl/MlcIiY

9.  “The Sharing Economy Doesn’t Need to Be Full of Monopolies” via The Atlantic – “Without checks on their power from consumers, these billion-dollar companies are beholden only to government regulation—and even then, sometimes they shrug that off.” – http://goo.gl/GvvLqC

10. “Corporate Travel Managers Don’t Trust the Sharing Economy” via Skift – “It’s shocking that more corporate travel managers haven’t embraced mobile technology and the sharing economy as ways to reduce costs and gain more accurate data on the habits of their clients.” – http://goo.gl/JCw0n6

Bonus: Bill spoke at Crowdsourcing Week Europe last week in Brussels (the conference was amazing). Presentations from all the sessions have been uploaded here. Do yourself a favor and spend some time with these slides!

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Communities in the Crowd Economy: #CSWEurope15

image credit: Xavier Damman @xdamman

This week I am participating in Crowdsourcing Week Europe 2015 in Brussels. The conference has an amazing range of speakers from both the public and private sector sharing their ideas about, and experiences from, the Crowd Economy.

My session focused on the critical role of Communities in the Crowd / Collaborative Economy, and covered:

  • Why 20th century businesses aren’t adapting to 21st century realities;
  • Why we need a fundamentally new and more expansive approach to building online communities in our evolving global economy;
  • Emerging opportunities for businesses to create and exchange new forms of value with their communities and in the process, become more sustainable.

Key points detailed below:

  1. Networked Companies Thrive
  2. Connected Customers Create More Value
  3. A Lens on the Collaborative (Crowd) Economy
  4. Crowd, Communities & Collaborative Organization
  5. An Example of a Market Network

1. Networked Companies Thrive
In a recent article from Harvard Business Review, a study between Deloitte and a team of independent researchers examined 40 years of S&P 500 data to examine how business models have evolved with emerging technologies. The study had 3 key findings, including the emergence of a distinct new business model of “Network Orchestrator”. As defined by the study:

Network Orchestrators. These companies create a network of peers in which the participants interact and share in the value creation. They may sell products or services, build relationships, share advice, give reviews, collaborate, co-create and more. Examples include eBay, Red Hat, and Visa, Uber, Tripadvisor, and Alibaba.

Network Orchestrators outperform their peers on revenue and profitability.

2. Connected Customers Create More Value
The 1:1 relationship between a company and a customer is increasingly perishable. The customer is blessed by an abundance of choice in the market, and increasingly (especially for technology) the lifespan of a relationship can last only days, weeks or months — not years. As an example: most software companies are moving from a perpetual license to term-based licensing that can be as short as 24 hours. Creating a great customer experience and minimizing churn are key. One key strategy is to develop customer communities where customers connect to people in the business (as hosts) as well as other customers and prospects (as peers). This creates a network of many to many connections, where bonds strengthen over time and value is exchanged in the form of knowledge, content, advice and help. These communities translate into real value for the customer and for the host business. When I led communities at Autodesk, we found that community members were more loyal and more likely to recommend than non-members. We also were able to quantify cost savings from our support community to be several million dollars. When I led communities at Dell, we discovered our IdeaStorm community members spent 50% more than non-members, and members’ purchase frequency was 33% higher than non-members. Community member ideas from IdeaStorm created $100’s of millions of dollars in revenue in the period between 2007–2011.

3. A Lens on the Collaborative (Crowd) Economy
My POV on the Collaborative Economy is that it is a set of trends, movements and technologies reshaping how we make, market, discover and use products and services. It was born out of the global financial crisis of 2008, enabled by global communications networks and digital technologies, and powered by people. I would also assert that Collaborative Economy initiatives should be focused on sustainable methods and equitable outcomes for all stakeholders.

The purpose of defining, identifying and studying the collaborative economy is to understand how business models need to evolve to thrive in this new economic context. Based on my experience building online communities and collaborative experiences, as well as research I’ve conducted, I’m convinced that a new and comprehensive approach to online communities is the way forward.

An approach where:

  • What we thought of as “social” is really the networked marketplace
  • Your market is synonymous with your crowd
  • Online communities build lasting relationships amongst your customers, prospects, employees and partners and
  • Collaboration looks like a partnership with customers, not an internal social network no one really uses.

There are two great resources I would recommend to see the range of sectors and technologies that make up the Collaborative Economy:
Collaborative Economy Honeycomb – via Jeremiah Owyang / Crowd Companies
The 14 Parts of The Crowd Economy– via Sean Moffitt / CSW2

4. Crowd, Communities & Collaborative Organization
In order to begin exploring business opportunities in the collaborative economy, businesses need to shift their mindset to think about markets as networks. Their total addressable market(s), connected via platforms & social networks.

There are three important contexts to think about in the Network Marketplace:

  • Crowd: A group within a Market Network that has:
    • A shared interest or goal
    • The ability and assets to participate in a shared marketplace, task or activity via common platforms
  • Community A connected & hosted group within a Market Network that has:
    • 1 or more shared interests or goals, leading to shared identity & purpose
    • The ability, motivation and assets to work towards a common purpose over time
    • A host with intention to support & manage community over time
  • Collaborative Organization Collaboration amongst organizations, partners and customers essentially functioning as one organization:
    • Shared IP & Common resources
    • Shared vision of activities and outcomes
    • Shared risks and equitable outcomes

These contexts are not mutually exclusive, meaning, a Collaborative Economy initiative could engage a crowd, community and a collaborative organization context.

Screenshot 2015-10-21 09.45.54

5. An Example of a Market Network
As a thought exercise, I chose Levi’s as a brand to explore opportunities with. Please note: this is not client work.

The three key opportunities I see for Levi’s:
1.
Hosting a peer to peer marketplace where customers can sell / trade used and custom goods, possibly partnering or including listings from external marketplaces.
2. Extending their innovation function online (think a more modern IdeaStorm for apparel), as well as partnering with other communities to develop specific crowdsourcing and challenge initiatives. An example would be partnering with Hackster.io on a smart apparel.
3. Hosting their global fan and denim connoisseur community, while continuing to develop great content on their Unzipped blog. The community feeds all digital activity.

Example of a Market Network
Crowd Market Network Example of “Market as a Network”

My slide deck from my Crowdsourcing Week session:

The Net-net:
Networked companies are more valuable and resilient. Connected customers are more valuable to companies. To create long-term growth in a sustainable way, companies need to evolve their business models to address the “networked marketplace”. A new approach to online communities can provide a path for business model transformation.

Next Steps: I have developed a worksheet, based on my business model innovation workshop, to help businesses begin to explore new Crowd / Collaborative Economy initiatives. Please email me for the worksheet or to discuss participating in a facilitated workshop.

Structure3C Worksheet

New Industry Report: The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy

Jeremiah Owyang of Crowd Companies and Vision Critical have released a follow up report to their 2014 Sharing is the new Buying. In the 2015 report, The New Rules of the Collaborative Economy, over 50,000 people across the US and Canada were surveyed on their attitude towards, and use of, the collaborative economy. There are many clear signals in the report that the Collaborative Economy has shifted from early adopters and is now entering the mainstream. The report indicates that by 2017, 80% of americans will be participate in the Collaborative Economy in some way.

Three key levers were identified that established companies can use to engage in the market that is beginning to be dominated with rising sharing sites: price, brand and convenience.

Key Stats from the Report:

  • The report estimates that by 2017 eight in 10 Americans will participate in the collaborative economy.
  • Financial savings is one of the top drivers of the collaborative economy with 82% of sharing transactions partially motivated by price.
  • 70% of people in the overall population who initially choose the sharing option would consider buying instead, if the buying option were less expensive. A 25% savings would make traditional purchasers consider moving their business to the collaborative economy.
  • The opportunity for big brands is to use price as a lever to retain or win customers in the collaborative economy by creating peer-to-peer marketplaces, allowing customers to purchase and sell pre-owned goods from established brands, or developing offerings that help people maximize the financial benefits of sharing, such as rental models.
  • Established brands are well-positioned to offer greater value to providers in the collaborative economy, of whom barely 60% were “very” or “extremely” happy with their latest transaction. Established brands can thereby attract more providers – and use their brand power to attract more buyers, too.
  • More than a third of traditional buyers will consider home sharing or pre-owned home furnishings if it comes with certification from a reputable brand.
  • The role of brand in the collaborative economy presents an opportunity for large brands to take advantage by marketing on trust or partnering with sharing services to leverage their brand.
  • 78% of sharers indicated that convenience is the most popular reason for using shared services.
  • Across all age groups, about a third of would-be buyers are swayed to consider sharing services if they offer conveniences like next-day delivery or a concierge to provide advice.
  • Convenience is a factor that established brands can compete on, with value-added services that create efficiencies, on-demand access to products and services, mobile apps, and even the sale of locally-sourced and crafted products.
  • Technologies that underpin the collaborative economy decouple convenience from location to an unprecedented degree, yet we found that the desire for local goods was more powerful in driving sharers to buy than in driving buyers to share. As sharing services grow, they will become disassociated with local communities and traditional businesses may be in a better position to provide the convenience of local goods that appeal to community-minded sharers.

The infographic below shares other highlights from the report.

This is a critical read for anyone doing, or planning to do business in the Collaborative Economy. My only criticism (and hopefully an area of coverage in the next wave) is that the report really doesn’t touch on the emerging role of Customer as Creator (Maker) and the value creation that is happening between customers and companies when customers help create the product vs. just sharing goods and assets.

You can download the full report here:
https://www.visioncritical.com/resources/new-rules-collaborative-economy/

If you are interested in more information about how brands are evolving to engage in the Collaborative Economy, I would also suggest:
Brands & The Collaborative Economy Report Preview (Structure3C)

Thoughts on the State of Community Management 2015 Report

Last week my friends and colleagues at The Community Roundtable released their annual “State of Community Management” report. This is the fifth year for the report, and the Roundtable team surveyed over 200 global organizations.

Key Points & Findings include:

  • An overview of the excellent Community Maturity model, as well as case studies on ho Microsoft and Johnson Controls have extended the model for internal use.
  • Organizations are still struggling to show ROI (less than 50% in Best In Class organizations).
  • Community Management, as a role and discipline, needs more internal investment and support.
  • Advocacy program need to mature beyond the “MVP Model”.
  • Findings on programming to boost community engagement.

You can view the executive summary here:

And register for the full report here.

I recommend taking the time to download and read the full report.

While at Forum One, I published a similar report in 2008. It’s interesting to note the places where the understanding of the practices and discipline of Community Management have advanced, and where progress seems slower (ROI, Organizational Structure).

I’d love to hear your thoughts and comments! What is your take on the State of Community Management?