User communities come in all shapes and sizes, rarely mirroring the organisation structure and often including parties external to the enterprise. Yet they’re crucial , reliable, robust and inclusive; they lead to better decisions and by their very nature engage users and ensure that the relevant data gets to interested parties.
Accepting that the organisation chart doesn’t represent communities within the enterprise, communities need controlled organic growth as needed; no training should be required as it’s impossible to be certain that everyone who’s needed to contribute to an operational situation can be trained ahead of the time they need to do so. They also need a place to grow; a platform.
A good community-based platform can change the way an organisation uses data; filtering and making data directly available to a community kills any reliance on email, or any other form of serial information delivery. It also opens the door for streamlining complex business process and breaking the behaviours that introduce delay.
With a user/community relationship established, an enterprise is uniquely positioned to ensure that users are provided with relevant content. This content is important to the business in terms of ensuring operational efficiency and consistency, but also provides users with key data sources for understanding trends or developing new insights.
Communities clearly have a role in propagating best practice; as soon as users have a platform where their communities can form around business processes and issues, it is the ideal place for determining, making available and ensuring compliance with revisions to best practices.
As the amount of data available to users in the enterprise increases, they face the same challenges as internet users; enterprise search begins to become less valuable. Where internet search engines have other challenges, enterprise search engine challenges are mainly around the impact versioning and duplication have on results.
This is where user content curation for communities becomes valuable. By highlighting the most valuable version of content, or collaborating to produce new versions, users identify the most relevant content. Allowing users to then share the data with their communities then ensures that valid content is made available.
In this way, communities can add value to existing document or content management systems, such as SharePoint or Open Text Livelink. The community platform must have at least rudimentary link to permit the sharing and hence propagation across the social network of content from these sources.
We’ve developed these ideas and others in our white paper below and we’d love to hear your comments.
White Paper: Enterprise Social Networks with a Purpose.