Did you know that you can get a free license of Clearspace X if you are a non-commercial open source project or developer group? This is one of the cool parts of my of my job â¦ I get to give people free software licenses!
Our Clearspace X product just won the Best Community Platform award from InfoWorld, so we're giving you some great community software! You can read the full review on the InfoWorld site. This award is no surprise to me. We power the 2 communities that I manage, Jivespace and Ignite Realtime, on Clearspace X.
One group taking advantage of this free license program is the Open Management Consortium. Last week, they just released a beta version of their new site based entirely on Clearspace X. They managed to get the entire site up and running with the old data moved into the new site mostly over a weekend. The OMC was formed with the goal being to "advance the promotion, adoption, development and integration of open source systems /network management software." They are using Clearspace X to power the community where the members of this group collaborate, discuss ideas, and get organized about how to accomplish this goal.
If you have an open source project or a developer group (users group, etc.) and want to take advantage of the free licenses, you can find more details and a short request form on the free license page on Jivespace.
Last week in part 2 of the Extended Enterprise series, I blogged about the value that external communities offer to the internal business community. Now, I'd like to share some strategy for how to grow the kind of community that delivers on that value. In our sister market, CRM, the post on SearchCIO.com had this to say: "Last June Cambridge, Mass.-based Forrester Research Inc. reported that less than 50% of the 94 business and IT executives it surveyed were fully satisfied with their CRM deployments. When Forrester asked those executives to list their best practices for improving their CRM implementation, 66% said promoting user adoption was a top priority." The user adoption challenge for CRM is similar to the user adoption challenge when implementing social productivity software in the enterprise. If you want a community (internal or external) where social productivity can be optimized, you need to put quite a bit of thought into how the community will be structured. In addition to productivity concerns, this initial structure can also impact the adoption of your new community. The challenges include how much or how little structure should be provided and then what kind of promotion/coaching/training should follow the initial implementation. The amount of structure falls into three main categories: emergent, highly structured, and adaptive.
An emergent approach presents the community members with a blank slate with no defined sub-communities, topics, or other structure. As the topics of conversation evolve into common threads, gradually a structure is put in place. For example, if there are many discussions about best practices, then maybe it makes sense to add a best practices area within the community.
Using an emergent structure when building a community has a number of advantages. It is easy to implement, since less up-front planning is required to define the structure. You get great user buy-in when the users are helping to define the structure. The end result may include a fantastic structure that you never would have thought of as way to organize your community.
There are also a few disadvantages associated with the emergent approach. The biggest disadvantage is that many users will be faced with writers block. It can be much easier to contribute to a community when faced with some general topics, instead of a blank slate. Another issue is that contributors can get sidetracked more easily. If the first few posts are way off topic, the rest may continue in that thread making it difficult to achieve the objectives that the enterprise is trying to accomplish. It can also be difficult to establish structure after people have started contributing, since many discussion threads, documents or other content will need to be moved into the new structure.
I think that the emergent approach would work best in environments where the subjects are not clear or are still emerging. It also works well for non-enterprise (purely social) communities where the community is self-led.
In the highly structured approach, the community manager lays out a very formal and possibly rigid structure before rolling out the community. Community contributions will need to fit within this defined structure.
The highly structured approach has some advantages. The enterprise has much more control over the topics allowed within the community. The expectations for community members are also clear. When community members arrive at the community, they see the topical areas where they can contribute.
The disadvantages of this approach are that it can be restrictive and possibly inflexible as the market changes and evolves. You may miss valuable contributions in areas that you never thought to include, but that would have great benefit for the community. The structure may be defined in a way that just doesn't work in the real world. Some community members may also resist the structure if it doesn't fit with the topics that are important to the community or if the structure makes it difficult to figure out where to post content.
This approach works best when a company wants to have very tight control over their community; however, this control usually comes at the expense of community buy-in and participation.
An adaptive approach requires that you define some structure before the community launches, but allows for additional changes as the community evolves. A few top level topics may be defined while sub-topics and additional top level topics are encouraged to emerge.
Advantages of an adaptive structure include stronger user buy-in as they see the structure evolve in response to community input. The company still has some control over the topics and the initial direction of the community. The community can evolve in directions not anticipated during the initial design.
The disadvantages of this approach are minor. The company gives up a little control to the community. User traction is required to make progress toward the defining the rest of the structure.
I recommend using the adaptive approach when starting your community. This has worked well for me in the past, particularly with the Ignite Realtime community. We started with a loose structure in place, but over the past six months, I have made quite a few changes in response to community requests and the evolution of the community. With Jivespace, I took a much more structured approach, not out of a desire to control it, but because I got a little carried away with defining things up front. As a result, I have some sub-communities that are rarely used. I find the adaptive approach more appealing. I can define a few sub-communities until I see where people are contributing. In general, it is easier to add new communities over time as needed.
Over a longer period of time, most communities will need to be adaptive. Businesses and products change and evolve as markets and technologies change. Communities need to have some flexibility to adapt and grow to include new areas of collaboration.
Spend some time in the early days of the community identifying and getting to know the heavy users and tap them for spreading interest within the community. These community members can give you an early indication of where the community is headed and how you might need to adapt the structure. They can also be your biggest allies when you need help with problem users, disagreements within the community, and even just answering routine questions. Jim McGee summarizes this well in The Problem of Emergence post on FASTForward the blog:
"In particular, the plan needs to identify those potential users who are most likely to benefit from the new capabilities and whose successful use of the technology will be interpreted as an endorsement to be emulated."
In the first part of this series, Chris elaborated on a number of categories that represent the kind of framework we're using to connect Clearspace and CSX. This helps us visualize how the whole company can become better integrated with not just customers and partners, but also other industry thought leaders. In the short term these connections may be light, but we can see it maturing into something really powerful that speaks to the true value of Social Productivity.
In the second part of this series, I will elaborate on how these six areas can map to several scenarios for connecting people inside and outside of an organization allowing businesses to become more productive. Let me point out that the mapping is not an easy 1:1 between each internal company function and your external community. Would you want to participate in a sales or marketing community for a company so that they could sell you stuff or market to you? Probably not. However, as a satisfied customer, you might talk about a company's products to other community members (sounds like something sales and marketing types might want to see)!
Product management has always been listening to customers and engaging with them to determine product requirements and get feedback that drives product development, but we shouldn't stop with product management. Wouldn't it be great if your engineering or development team could see the feedback directly and ask questions to get clarification to make sure they are satisfying the customer with the technical solution? Social productivity tools, like Clearspace, just make it easier to gather input from your customers in an interactive, collaborative environment. In a community setting, your customers can have an open exchange with your employees about new feature requests, ideas, issues with existing functionality and more. By having this discussion in an open, social setting, we can have honest and ongoing discussions with our customers and use it to more productively set product development roadmaps and drive product decisions. These types of feature discussions have helped Jive engineers and product managers engage productively with our external community.
This is also a perfect place to step in with solutions and services to allow customers to embrace the solution and help them solve the issues that come up when talking about product requirements and feature requests. Some individual customers will always need a particular feature that cannot be provided in the product. By having development, product management, and services all involved in the community, your company can make better decisions about which requests should be in the product and which ones can be more quickly provided by the services group.
According to Jeremiah Owyang:
The opportunity to build better products and services through this real-time live focus group are ripe, in many cases, customer communities have been waiting for a chance to give feedback.
Robert Scoble also touched on the value an external community has to product marketing, development, and services in an interview he did with Search CIO, stating:
>We used blog-search engines to find anyone who wrote the word "Microsoft" on their blog. Even if they had no readers and were just ranting, "I hate Microsoft," I could see that and link to it, or I could participate in their comments, or send them an e-mail saying, "What's going on?" And that told those people that someone was listening to their rants, that this is a different world than the one in which no one listens. It was an invaluable focus group that Microsoft didn't have to pay for.
In the future business landscape, connecting customer feedback within the organization may not be a competitive advantage, it may be a requirement. Claudio Marcus and Kimberly Collins of Gartner quantified the advantage in the B2C market in an interview for Influence 2.0 as such:
>...by 2007, marketers that devote at least 50% of their time to advanced customer-centric marketing processes and capabilities will achieve marketing return on investment that is at least 30 percent greater than that of their peers, who lack such emphasis
Support organizations can also benefit from social productivity software while supporting customers. When customers and support staff can collaborate in an online environment, both groups get value out of the exchange. Not only can customers search the site to get answers before engaging support, but they can also help troubleshoot issues and provide advice to other customers. Since you are also in the community along with the customers you can quickly correct any misinformation while reinforcing accurate information. In some cases, your customers will come up with solutions, workarounds, and ideas that your internal team would never have considered without this external source of collaboration.
The tech industry has known about the value of a support community for some time. Forums have long been the tool of choice for facilitating such a community. However, as Chris pointed out in the first post of this series, "...traditional Communities (like forums) fall short because they are basically dependent on people in the enterprise getting onto the external community to participate." A common platform that extends on both sides of the firewall, such as Clearspace, bridges the chasm between the external and internal, which is what it takes to deliver on the support community value proposition.
These helpful customers mentioned above who proactively help other customers, can also become evangelists for your products. I've seen these enthusiastic community members step up and speak out on behalf of a company when other community members are being unfairly critical. In fact, John points out an example of a Dell customer that has posted and helped 20,452 times since 1999. A response to criticism that might seem defensive when coming from an employee may be seen as more genuine when coming from a customer. Marketing groups should be courting and talking to these community members and do what it takes to keep them happy. Engaging in this social and open collaboration between internal employees and external users also gives sales and marketing a place to provide information about products and best practices / thought leadership for your industry to keep the customers energized. Managing your reputation also becomes much easier when you can provide information and collaborate in a socially productive environment.
I wanted to start here to lay the foundation for how external communities bring value into the organization. Next week I'll share some strategies for how to grow and shape your external community so that it accomplishes the value I described in this post.
I'll leave you with a quote from Anne Zelenka at GigaOM:
If the promises of social productivity tools prove out, companies deploying them should see improved customer responsiveness, more successful products, more enthusiastic user communities, and better financial results.
We wanted to remind everyone that you only have two weeks left to enter our Clearspace plugin contest and win cash, iPhone, t-shirts, free licenses and more!
All you have to do is submit an awesome plugin (fine print) for Clearspace by October 25th.
What can you win?
Cash prizes up to $5000
Free 25 user license of Clearspace
Maybe I'm a little biased, but I think that Jive Software is a great place to work. We're a culture of good natured ***-kickers who love our work. A friend of mine jokingly refers to it as the "Cult of Jive" because people start talking about how cool their job is upon starting a new job at Jive! We work hard -- it's a bit of Silicon Valley competitiveness mixed with a Portland ethos. But we make it fun, too. We make sure there is time left over for the important stuff: family, friends, hanging out. We get together every three weeks to celebrate the end of each release cycle with a Friday happy hour event in addition to BBQs, movie outings, and other fun activities. Even more importantly, we get to work on great products with other really smart people, and this makes all the difference for me. Using my own work at Jive as an example, we were able to take the idea of a developer community through to the complete implementation of the Jivespace Developer Community within 2.5 months of my start at Jive Software. This was a team effort with probably 20 people at Jive contributing to this launch in some way. What made this possible in such a short time was a great product (Clearspace) and a great team of smart people to make it happen!
Want to know what it's like to work at Jive Software? Watch this video to get a sense for who we are and what we do. Make sure you stick around for the outtakes at the end of the video.
We're always looking for good people! Join us at www.jivesoftware.com/jobs
Jive is releasing a new version of Clearspace with what we think are some really cool improvements on September 13th. We thought it might be fun to invite the Portland blogging, podcasting, and influencer community in for a sneak peak on Tuesday, September 11th. Everyone is welcome to attend! The Details: Date: Tuesday, Sept. 11 Time: 5:30 - 7:30 pm Where: Jive Software 317 SW Alder St Suite 500 (5th floor) You can RSVP on Upcoming if you are interested in attending.
We get to do a demo of our new Clearspace release
We're happy to answer questions about our new VC investment from Sequoia, about our job openings, or any other topics.
What You Get:
Free food & drinks
The ability to blog, podcast, etc. about these new features 2 days before the official release
Time to ask questions about Jive Software
How to Get Here:
The Jive Software Office is on SW Alder between 3rd & 4th.
Parking is available in a nearby parking garage, and it is short walk
from the Max / bus lines (Directions).
At Jive Software, we had a great time at last week's OSCON right in our hometown of Portland, Oregon.
On the community front, we launched our new Jivespace Developer Community at OSCON. The community is built on top of our Clearspace product, and we are getting great participation within the new community. I also hosted a meetup for community leaders on Tuesday evening. It was well attended and people seemed to enjoy it. Danese Cooper and I also pulled together another "Art of Community" panel with Jimmy Wales, Sulamita Garcia, Whurley, Karl Fogel, and Brian Behlendorf. The session was standing room only, and Robert Kay described it as "awesome". We also have the entire session on video available on our Jivespace Developer Podcasts and Videos Blog.
Matt Tucker gave a talk at OSCON about Jingle, an extension to XMPP (Jabber) that's primarily used for VoIP. We also participated in the XMPP Devcon event. The slides from Matt's presentation and links to notes about XMPP Devcon are on the Ignite RealtimeBlog.
We also hosted a great after party at OSCON with great attendance and entertainment provided by Jive Employee DJs. Here are a few video highlights from the party.
The Jivespace Developer Community at dev.jivesoftware.com is launching at the O'Reilly Open Source Convention (OSCON) on Wednesday, and we wanted to give everyone a quick preview here on Jive Talks first. We also used our own Clearspace X product to build the collaborative elements of the community (discussions, wiki docs, blogs, etc.)
The Jivespace Developer Community is a place where developers can collaborate with Jive employees and their peers to write and share plugins, themes, macros, and other extensions to Clearspace, Clearspace X and Jive Forums. Collaborative features of Jivespace include discussion forums, wiki documents, sharing of plugins, plugin wish lists, and blogs. Additional developer documentation, tutorials, and video podcasts will also be available in Jivespace.
We are also announcing an open source plugin contest that recognizes developers who create original and innovative open source plugins for Clearspace. First place in the contest will be awarded $5,000 cash, with second place receiving $2,500 and third place receiving $1,500. The plugins developed for this contest will benefit all Clearspace users as they will be available free of charge and will extend the already feature-rich solution.
Come visit us at our OSCON booth. If you sign up for Jivespace, we'll give you a cool new Jivespace t-shirt.
We would also love to see you at Beerforge, a great after party sponsored by Jive Software, POSSE, OSL, OpenSourcery, and OTBC.
When: Thursday, July 26, 2007, 6:00 PM to 8:30 PM
Where: Thirsty Lion Pub, 71 SW 2nd Avenue, Portland, OR 97209 (just a couple stops on the MAX Light Rail from the Oregon Convention Center)
Win a trip to OSCON (O'Reilly's Open Source Convention) in Portland, Oregon, July 23 - 27, 2007 by creating the best blog entry about how Jive Software products have helped your organization. Your blog should be entertaining and creative while describing how you've used Jive software to make your organization better in some way. Blogs will be judged by a panel of Jive experts on the following criteria:
Thoroughness of solution description
Creativity of description
Number / Quality of screen shots (minimum of two)
Number / Quality of video clips
How do I win?
Post your entry on a publicly accessible blog before 7/12/07
Send the link to your blog entry to OSCONTrip2007@jivesoftware.com no later than July 12, 2007 at 11:59 PM Pacific Time
Include your name, organization name, email, phone number, and address in the submission email
The winner will be announced on 7/13/07 and the winning submission will be posted on the Jive Talks blog
Exactly what do I win?
Jive Software will reimburse you for either
Trip costs: airfare and hotel for July 23 - 27, 2007 in Portland, Oregon USA (up to $2000 USD)
OSCON Convention Sessions Plus Tutorials (up to $1990 USD)
You should also read the fine print and content rules before entering.
Our advice to you is to do something cool with this contest and have fun! Keep in mind that our panel of judges is made up of humans, not mindless automatons, and we like to be entertained.
Occasionally at Jive Software, our developers take a day off from their regular jobs to spend the day writing plugins for our products. After taking Friday off to write plugins for our new Clearspace product, we gathered at 4PM to do a quick review of our creations. This is what happens when a room full of Jive Software employees geek out over cool collaboration technology.
In a previous post about Jive Software and Open Source, I mentioned that we "do what we can to support collaboration within open source and other software developer teams (i.e. software user groups) by providing them with <span class="jive-link-external">complimentary licenses of Clearspace X or Jive Forums."
I wanted to let everyone know that we have streamlined the application process for getting a free license of Jive Forums or Clearspace X. If you are interested in a free license, you can apply here:
We hope to see many people take us up on this offer!
Between my trip to OSBC and recent questions from a reporter, I have been spending some time thinking about how commercial interests impact open source software. Over the past few years, commercial interests have had an increasing amount of influence on open source projects. Ten years ago, it seemed like most open source projects were created by people working in their spare time without any compensation and limited resources for the project. Now, many open source developers are sponsored by companies or other organizations who provide them with a regular paycheck giving them more time to contribute to open source projects. Commercial companies also provide support in the form of servers, hosting, software, and other resources to help open source projects succeed. For example, Jive Software is the sponsor for the Ignite Realtime project where Openfire (GPL), Spark (LGPL), and other related open source projects are hosted and managed. We hire developers from the community, and we have people like Gaston Dombiak aka Gato (Openfire project lead) and Derek DeMoro (Spark project lead) on staff at Jive Software. In Gato's case, he was a contributor to Ignite Realtime projects long before he became an employee of Jive Software. We also do what we can to support collaboration within open source and other software developer teams (i.e. software user groups) by providing them with <span class="jive-link-external">[complimentary licenses|http://www.jivesoftware.com/products/forums/resources/opensource.jsp] of Clearspace X or Jive Forums.
There is sometimes a fine line between providing help to open source projects and exerting unwanted influence. For a commercial open source vendor to be successful, a careful balance between commercial open source interests and community interests must be preserved. This can only be accomplished when both sides provide input and listen to the other when making decisions about the direction of the project. Jive Software uses the Ignite Realtime forums, weekly chat sessions, community voting on the top issues, and other collaborative methods to make sure that our relationship with the Ignite Realtime community continues to be beneficial for both.
I expect to see more companies with mixed business models offering some products that are open source while also offering products under more traditional licenses, similar to the Jive Software model. Even on products licensed under traditional licenses, Jive Software strives to maintain openness and transparency by providing the source code along with the product giving customers the ability to make additional modifications, customization, and inspection of the source code. For pure open source companies, it can be difficult to maintain a revenue stream large enough to sustain the business through support and services revenues. Companies with mixed business models can benefit from having licensing revenue on some products in addition to support and services revenue making the road to profitability a bit easier.