I wanted to develop two previous Blog pieces and tie them together, as in my mind; (at least!), thanks to discussions with others my thoughts are becoming clearer. The first piece was an introduction to the conceptual idea of Mesh Working; and if you want to know why I used this term see Wikipedia on Mesh Networking.
My view was that, unlike the closed point to point matrix working environment that the PC Network had introduced, what we could now utilise was an infinite ‘Mesh’ of People, and content, stretching from inside our enterprise to outside, from our working life to our private life. Our resources to address events, problems, issues, opportunities etc are therefore huge and will help to address the current stress we feel in trying to address an increasingly dynamic world through our limited, finite resources.
The more I thought about this the more I realised that my original comments on navigating be means of search engines and blogs were not enough. We need to find and join sustainable communities to bring this to an understandable human friendly model. This brings me to my second post on a discussion that took place one evening at Oracle World and led to trying to define communities by what their members wanted to share.
By putting the two together I think I am really now starting to see a picture of the new Enterprise 2.0 world where the benefits of Web 2.0 Social environments and tools can be applied to the Business World. The first business requirement is ‘awareness’ of the enterprise, its brand and its products, and if I understand my marketing colleagues correctly this means associating the values with needs and benefits. In my simple mind that means being referred to by members of a shared interest community, i.e. for those interested in outdoor sports the topic of the best waterproof clothing, or sun block if you are lucky enough, will be a natural interest. It’s not just advertising in the community space, but using a more interactive and targeted medium to inform. A good piece on what to consider when choosing suitable waterproof clothing is both helpful, and assuming that your product is of good quality, likely to help in bringing its benefits into the buyers mind. When online means too much choice, then help in establishing the criteria for choosing is indeed welcome.
At the next level the example of Threadless, a community of shared goals whose members want to create and wear unique, and relatively personalised, Tee Shirts is instructive. This is a business model based on using the size of the Mesh, and its tools, to allow individuals to find what they are looking for, in drawing together enough people to make a viable business in a specialised niche. It is based on the interactivity, and creativity, of the community to decide on the products that they want to buy. Is this Customer Relationship Management, CRM? I don’t think so, or at least not as we know it today, it’s the next generation, something more on the lines of Customer Interactive Relationships, CIR, for want of a better name.
The last Community type is bound together by shared values, and the best example for this would seem to be consumers seeking to support ‘Fair Trade’, or ‘Ethical Business’. You can find companies offering Fair Trade produced clothes fairly readily but that’s not building a community. The nearest I was able to find by a quick search was http://www.fairtrade.org.uk/get_involved.htm where there is at least the opportunity for the consumers buying the products to get involved with the producers, but I am pretty sure that if I spent more time I could find a better example.
My conclusion is that in both goal and value driven communities the driving force for the business comes from the community and its shared purposes, more than from the individual products themselves. And at this point, with thanks to those who mailed me with comments on the previous Blog on communities, (you seem to be shy as I get more comments by direct mail than as posted comments!), I would like to add the community that I missed; that of location. Funnily enough I had have been meaning to comment on cell phones and micro Blogging as a kind of personal RFID, (watch this space!), and the other on how I choose which events to go to. But I had singularly failed to see these in the context of my made up title of Customer Interactive Relationships, or CIR.
The context of where am I, and doing what, has an enormous set of possibilities to interactively offer me products and services to enhance my current experience. However this would be a product push of the type I have identified above as not being the driver of the purchase, so I have concluded that this is an additional factor to my belonging to one of the above communities. Please only offer me a product that has my community interests, goals, or values associated with it, don’t just clutter my in box with unwelcome offers.
For any marketing types out there who are Facebook users and want to see the kind of tools that I think will be around to help you understand the make up of a community I suggest you load Socialistics. It’s a Facebook app that lets you slice and dice the various statistics of your ‘friends’.
This is a really big topic and I am pretty sure I have only scratched the surface of it, so looking forward to seeing what posts come back, don’t be shy, as the mails I get are invariably very good thinking and should be posted and shared.