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Your content is well-written and well-produced, engaging, even useful. But is your audience really paying attention? We all know what it’s like when someone won’t stop talking — it’s very hard to stay engaged. Have you tried listening to your audience instead?

 

Online communities are primordial (pre-web, even) discussion, content-sharing, and collaboration applications. While many brands use online communities for bottom-line-focused activities such as lead generation, others focus on listening, which helps them uncover powerful sources of customer insights, content, and industry credibility — all of which can support their marketing strategy.

 

First, let’s understand what is meant by online communities. Online communities are dedicated, brand-sponsored platforms that enable the exchange of ideas and content via a suite of interactive features, such as discussion forums, polls, content libraries, and member directories. These communities generally fall into one of the following four categories:

  • Lead generators: These communities are established by brands to bring members into conversations solely to generate sales leads. When a prospect joins the discussion, the sales team jumps in to press the sale. It’s a Trojan horse, inspiring neither trust nor engagement.
  • Marketing speakers: Long on broadcasting messages to members, short on interaction, the primary mission of “megaphone” communities is to share the brand’s new developments and latest accomplishments with prospective and current customers. Often designed and managed to optimize SEO measures, they also typically fall short on member engagement.
  • Customer huggers: Staffed by customer service employees assisting members in need, “closed tickets” is the key metric here. But in the absence of additional in-depth interactions and collaboration with members, valuable insights remain undiscovered. The community is just a “nice-to-have” cost center, rather than an outreach mechanism.
  • Innovation centers: Dedicated to achieving deep collaboration with customers and partners, these communities seek to share information, glean insights, and put community-sourced ideas into action. Through continuous engagement around the ideas, concerns, and hopes the membership has for the products and services, these communities identify areas of internal improvement and growth and provide ongoing feedback to members about their contributions. Innovation centers can have a profound impact at all levels of the organization.

 

Another is the Palladium Group XPC Community. Based on the balanced scorecard management system developed by Kaplan and Norton, this community of management consultants, strategy professionals, and operations executives pools expertise to develop best practices for use within the organizations.

A third example is HP’s IT Expert Zone, where corporate IT staff can interact directly with HP’s IT experts, asking complex questions and receiving detailed responses. By listening to this content, IT managers and directors can better understand the pitfalls and opportunities within their IT environment.

  • Process improvement and operational efficiency case studies: SPS Commerce, a supply chain solutions provider, created a public community for customers to collaborate on solving all manner of supply change management issues. Thomson-Reuters operates a global online community (intranet) for employees to improve collaboration and speed up innovation across offices in over 100 countries.
  • Case studies from member stories about products, services, or solutions: These are especially helpful for B2C or B2B firms where it may not be easy to identify engaged end users. For example, Hitachi Data Systems (HDS) maintains close relationships with its large corporate customers, but may not know the specific details of an end user’s implementation. The HDS Innovation Center Community provides a forum for end-user innovators within large organizations to share their forward-thinking approaches, and offers a way to develop case study content HDS might never learn about otherwise.
  • Problem-solving testimonials through collaboration with customers: Analog Devices’ (ADI) EngineerZone online community was cited by 76 percent of customers as a reason to purchase from ADI in a recent customer survey.
  • Customer-generated endorsements and recommendations: Wireless networking firm Aerohive leveraged positive user-created content to build brand equity and customer acquisition. Mindjet’s collaboration tools saw a 5 percent increase in referral traffic after opening its online community.

 

Marketers considering a listening approach must beware of the impulse to focus too much on quantity metrics (e.g., number of conversations, articles, or members). A community with a seemingly high number of likes, for example, may not generate the kind of thoughtful exchanges that support a brand’s content marketing strategy. Instead, examine whether your community provides deeper insights, such as a case study worth sharing, an insight worth pursuing in a long-format report, or an idea around which to build a new product.

 

5 tips for building a successful listening community

Online communities are social entities. Even the most focused and defined membership will display a remarkable range of behaviors and contribution styles. Community managers should foster a diversity of opinions and avoid closing down fruitful, if sometimes intense, discussions. Attentive listening by community managers — signaling they are actively observing your community’s conversations — will confirm to members that your organization is paying attention to what they are saying.

Caveat: Don’t stifle disagreements, disputes, or complaints. Online communities are an early warning system for product and service issues — and, sometimes, the next big thing that could transform your firm. Redirect or resolve problematic discussions through engagement rather than censorship.

 

Tip 2: Encourage conversations through engagement

Community members can supply clues — and contributors — for great user stories, case studies, and thought leadership. Encourage in-depth discussions, especially among subject matter experts, and highlight their contributions. Internal communities can be a rich source of insights and ideas for improving operational efficiency, product/service enhancements, and innovations — if members have an incentive to contribute. Be sure to ask good questions, solicit feedback, and invite others into the conversation.

Caveat: Sustaining the flow of ideas and insights from the community is a marathon, not a sprint. A long-term marketing strategy for member engagement should attract new members and reward long-time contributors.

 

Tip 3: Empower members

Reward active participants with opportunities to guide discussions and share their expertise. When a community attracts or develops its own subject matter experts from within the membership, their contributions add to their own reputation and to the unique value of your branded community.

Celebrate this homegrown thought leadership by rewarding those star contributors with offline and online appreciation.

Caveat: Empowering members may mean respecting their privacy and sheltering their discussions from public view — especially for executives, established experts, and others with confidentiality concerns. Creating private peer-to-peer networks can encourage more candid conversations.

 

Tip 4: Respect and reward contributions

While the terms and conditions governing your online community contributions may allow you to use your members’ contributions however you wish, common sense and courtesy dictate that you request permission before doing so. Acknowledgement and an honorarium for the most valuable contributions are usually all that’s needed.

Caveat: Don’t overtip. Your community members will be highly attuned and aware of the most valuable individual contributors and contributions. Make sure the rewards match the community’s sense of value, not just your organization’s agenda.

 

Tip 5: Build trust

Online communities quickly develop a keen sensitivity to what is authentic and what is not. Organizations that remain authentic, maintaining trust with their online community members, will see that reflected in external perceptions of the firm across all its activities. Building and maintaining trust is an essential component of a successful online community.

Caveat: Authenticity takes work, strong governance, constant attention and vigilance. Internal teams working with community members need clear guidance on handling issues where evasion or inauthenticity may appear to be the best option. Keep it real.

Here at Jive, we have our own Jive-n Instance called Brewspace, where all Jivers collaborate daily. On the HR Team, on our main use cases of  Brewspace is to ramp up new employees globally. In the first 3 quarters of 2015 alone, we onboarded 251 new employees in 5 countries and 14 states. Not bad for a small but mighty HR team. Over the year, it became increasingly apparent that we had a great opportunity to streamline our company onboarding process and provide a clear source of official content. Through the process I learned four key things (along with lots of other nuggets of wisdom) that kept us on track and marching toward our goals.

 

1. List out goals before the process -

Our goal was to create an environment within Jive to help new employees find the resources, information and assistance they need to become engaged, connected and productive. At the end of the day, it doesn't matter how beautiful or well thought out the new hire space is if it doesn't meet the goals of the organization. We partnered with our Professional Services Practice Manager, Dorothy Toppercer, and our Community Manager, Kosheno Moore, who guided our HR implementation team through the process and identified the following goals:

  • Onboarding employees more quickly, so that they can be productive and provide value as quickly as possible;
    • Increase ease of access to information and increase HR efficiency by reducing the amount of time spent responding to queries or FAQs;
    • Increase Employees efficiency by sharing important documents, procedures and links with new employees;
  • Ensure new employees are well versed in the company strategy, goals and structure;
  • Integration and awareness into company culture; and
  • Simplifying the new employee experience (cleaning up the existing content and processes).

 

2. Break it down -

We have employees onboarding in several countries, each with their own unique requirements. Historically, we used a single new hire checklist for all employees and denoted which locations each task was applicable for. Through the process of preparing a detailed activity inventory (identifying each activity a new hire would be involved in) and breaking it down by location (country, in office vs. remote, etc.), we found that it made more sense to have separate checklists for the Americas, EMEA/APJ, and Israel. Beyond that, we were able to detail applicable information unique to the employee using that particular checklist. No longer were Israeli employees trying to decide if they need to provide an I-9 form, instead that item only showed up in the checklist for employees in the United States. Below is a sample of our Americas checklist. You'll see the large pink buttons at the top of the page allow the employee to make a copy of the checklist, customize it and save it for frequent use.

JC1.png

 

3. Keep it simple -

Once we built out our checklist, we developed "wrapper content" explaining each item on the list and provided a talk track to go with it. While we meet with new hires on their first day to talk through all the items, there are many details they can't just absorb all at once. These wrappers allow us to provide the correct information in our Jive-style: conversational, helpful and friendly. By marking the content as official, new hires can be positive they found the HR-sanctioned information that is up to date and accurate. This helps to help cut down on the amount of questions our HR representatives were answering on a weekly basis.  You'll also notice that we formated the content to provide a consistent visual that these are all a part of the same onboarding. Jive pictures up the fun factor and break up the large blocks of text.

JC2.JPG

 

4. - It's not just what we do, but how we do it -

Culture is critical to Jive's continued success. We talk about it openly and often. We knew when building out the new onboarding that it would be crucial for us to impart that on new Jivers and give them a way to practice this early on. One of the key pieces of being a Jiver is working in Brewspace (our version of Jive-n). We used the new checklist as an opportunity to get our Brewspace Onboarding program front and center, complete with all the reasons getting ramped on Brewspace is so important. By linking all our resources, including Brewspace Onboarding, into the checklist we ensure we are keeping employees in the product to do the training, learning and exploring. We also give them the opportunity to start DOING. They are encouraged to join a group, post a status, follow the executive team, write a "first week" blog introducing themselves to Jive, and more. All these activities let them put into action the things they are learning and  practice working out loud.

JC3.JPG

 

Two months post-launch, I am happy to report that we have accomplished our goal. We have a beautiful new group that, more importantly, has allowed us to create an environment within Jive to help new employees find the resources, information and assistance they need to become engaged, connected and productive. Check out the final product:

 

JC4.png

 

Now tell me this, what things do you do to onboard your employees quicker and more efficiently? Have you found anything critical to your success in ramping up new employees? Share your tips in the comments below.

 

 

Hackday.jpegDid you know that you can run innovation programs on Jive? At Yahoo we host a variety of internal innovation programs including a CEO Challenge for new product ideas, a CFO challenge for money saving ideas, Hackovation for innovative IT ideas, and our marquee internal developer program, Hackday, which brings hundreds of Yahoo employees from offices across the globe together to participate in a day of hacking.  

 

After running innovation programs at Yahoo for over a decade, we started using Jive last year to support our main Hackday program. Here’s a look at the transition from our custom solution to Jive.

 

Anatomy of a Hackday

We begin our Hackday process by setting up a website with all event information. We then invite our engineers to submit hack ideas to the website for review and voting. Collecting the hack ideas on the site builds momentum and helps recruit people to join teams. Once Hackday begins, teams add their project code and a short video showing what they worked on. Voting continues both online and in person until we select semi-finalists and the final winners. When all is done, the collection of ideas represents an archive of all the good work produced in the hackday. Some hacks then get selected for implementation.

 

The Old Process

With a company full of web developers, nearly every problem gets solved using a website. We created a custom hackday website to allow teams to upload their ideas, get votes, share their code and videos, and track their paths to glory (or archival, as the case may be). Like most custom tools, it worked great, but was disconnected from everything else.

 

Moving Away From a Custom Solution to Jive

Out of the box, Jive provides most of what we need for a Hackday submission process via its “Idea” feature. We knew our online savvy employees could easily navigate through the new software, so we decided to no longer direct them to a separate hackday website. We found that using Jive had a lower barrier to entry for non-technical folks. As a side benefit, new Jive users quickly became familiar with it once hackday was over, further supporting our Jive adoption efforts.

 

Moving hackdays to Jive was not trivial. Any process change requires testing and clear communication. It was also important to migrate old hack ideas from the custom website to Jive so our hackers could continue to build them. Thus, we leveraged the “import” feature and moved our content over.

 

New Hackday Site on Jive

 

HackSite.png

 

While moving to a new system allowed us to rethink the hack submission process, there were some required workarounds to make Jive’s ideation module suitable for our program.

 

Jive’s ideation module does not support extensive customization. There are some flexible settings in the Admin Console such as custom fields, stages, and point values, but these are global settings affecting all groups, spaces, and projects using Ideas. This can be quite disruptive to users if you are running multiple ideation campaigns.

 

On the other hand, the Ideas module has some great features we didn’t have using the old system. Not only can employees comment on hacks, but anyone can use Jive’s @mention feature to call-out content and people on Jive to add to the discussion. Product teams can now search and discover ideas much easier.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

One feature we rely on is custom fields to build a form for hackday submissions. We need more information than just title and description from Hackday participants. Along with communications prior to Hackday about upcoming changes to Ideas, we add the prefix “For Hackday Only” to custom fields to address any confusion, e.g. “For Hackday Only - Team Member #2 First and Last Name.” You can easily export all ideas from a space to a spreadsheet. We use that information for our judging process and to keep for archival purposes.

 

Hackday.jpg

From announcements, to processes and policy, submissions, and voting, all aspects of Hackday are now in Jive. Our Jive adoption and engagement has greatly improved because of innovation programs leveraging the Idea module, and largely due to Hackday.

 

If you haven’t already started using the Idea module in Jive, I urge you to do so now. From internal feedback, discussions, ideas, and innovation programs, the Idea module is a great collaboration tool!

 

Now off to prepare for the next Hackday.

 

Cheers!

Ashley

 

Ashley Wolf is the Technical Community Manager at Yahoo Inc., where she focuses on engineering collaboration, technical knowledge management, and information architecture. She is responsible for managing and curating Yahoo’s internal developer portal ensuring content is accurate and up-to-date. Prior to joining Yahoo, Ashley worked in project management, leveraging the understanding of the customer's business requirement to implement and deploy various CRM, content management and collaboration solutions. Ashley has a background in systems administration, community management, and product management from experience in information technology.

I met Nikhil Nulkar many years ago at JiveWorld13. This was also the JiveWorld where he was mentioned on Mainstage as the attendee that traveled in from the farthest away! He was incredibly friendly, very encouraging and very into the gamification at the conference. It is always a pleasure to talk with Nikhil and I jump at any chance I get to do so. Enjoy getting to know how Nikhil Nulkar works:

 

Leigh: Where do you work?

Nikhil: I work in the Social Media & Workplace Reimagination team at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS). We bring in a combination of Social Interaction Design, Gamification & Human Cloud Analytics to re-imagine how organizations co-create with customers and how employees collaborate in a hyper connected workplace.

 

Leigh: How would you describe your current job?

Nikhil: I would like to call myself a Consultant. Keeping it simple and generic gives me the ability to work across a breadth of opportunities to help clients understand the changing workplace. In my role as a consultant, I strategize and guide customers to re-imagine their workplace providing them with advice to improve their internal & external collaboration ecosystems. Unlike my previous role, which was internally focused, here I get a chance to work daily with a new customer and a new challenge.

Nikhil with industry analysts.pngNikhil with Alan Lepofsky and Gil Yehuda at JiveWorld13

 

Leigh: Are you familiar with the Jive WorkTypes? If so, what was your WorkType?

Nikhil: Yes. I’m an Explorer and Planner.

 

Leigh: What was your favorite part of attending JiveWorld last year?

Nikhil: People. Meeting people, sharing experiences and building relationship with other customers, partners and Jivers is an enriching experience. It was my third JiveWorld and I always look forward to meeting old and new friends in person. IMHO there’s tremendous learning opportunity at JiveWorld, not only about Jive as a company or platform, but about the larger social business community network.

 

JiveWorld13 was a turning point in many ways, and I would like to point to my experience report from that year - a good time to reflect and know that we’ve come a long way.

JiveWorld13.png

This is where I first met Nikhil. Hasn't the Social Command Center come a long way?!

 

Leigh: So how do you use Jive at work (internal community, external community, etc.)?

Nikhil: I have used Jive as an internal community for the past 5 years and now in my current role, I use it in every possible way, depending on the client’s ecosystem.

 

Leigh: What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?

Nikhil: Macbook Air. I love Apple (not a crazy fanboy though) and I am mostly working remotely or traveling, so it works best for me.

 

Leigh: Tell us what you use for your mobile device?

Nikhil: Mostly an iPhone. But occasionally an iPad too. Earlier this year I happened to work completely out of my mobile devices for almost a couple of months. It was quite an experience.

nikhil tools at work.png

Nikhil's favorite devices

 

Leigh: Pick one word that best describes how you work.

Nikhil: Wannabe-futuristic

 

Leigh: Besides Jive, what apps/software/tools can't you live without?

Nikhil: Browser. Tweetdeck on Mac and Tweetbot on iPhone.

 

Leigh: Do you have a favorite non-computer gadget?

Nikhil: Camera

 

Leigh: What you surround yourself with is important, what's your work space like?

Nikhil: It’s strange, but I’ve never been one of those who deck-up their workspace tables. A large part of my last few work years have been remote working - so one would typically find household and travel related items around my workspace.

Nikhil on tires.pngNikhil hard at work!

 

Leigh: What do you listen to while you work?

Nikhil: I love electronic music. It being a wide spectrum in itself helps me change the tempo based on my work-mood. Try give a listen to artists like Above & Beyond or Eric Prydz.

 

Leigh: How do you balance work and life?

Nikhil: In today’s era and with the kind of role I am in, work and life are very fluid and interlinked. When you travel and mostly work remotely, you end up having work and life overflow into each others territories. Having said that, loving what you do, helps in ensuring there’s never a dull day. Also, it’s important to prioritize and give your 100% when involved to ensure you do justice to the task.

 

Leigh: What's your sleep routine like?

Nikhil: I love my sleep. I usually love to have my eight hours of sleep. Though I end up sleeping quite late in the night.

 

Leigh: Are you more of an introvert or an extrovert?

Nikhil: Extrovert.

 

Leigh: What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?

Nikhil: “You can never connect the dots looking forward” and the entire Steve Jobs speech at Stanford University. It’s the most inspiring thing I know of and I always go back and listen to it, every now and then.

Leigh: Thanks for reminding us of this amazing speech. I'm watching it again, right now!

 

Leigh: Thank you so much, Nikhil, for taking the time to share how you work with the Jive Community. I love how well you're set up to work remotely and 'on-the-go'. Thanks also for being an amazing advocate for Jive's internal and external communities as you help organizations re-imagine how they co-create.

 

Does anyone have any questions for Nikhil?

Brandy Robert, Senior Manager, Proactive Service Delivery, Oracle Corporation and Rob Shapiro, Senior Director, Customer Service Experience, Oracle Corporation, have teamed up to implement ideas in My Oracle Support Community. The Your Idea Counts! series of blogs (tagged with ideas, your idea counts and product ideas) was co-authored by them and will deep-dive in to topics such as why idea generation is important today; ways to capture ideas; user and business impact; changing company culture to rally around ideas; and, of course, measuring idea ROI's, KPI's and other intangibles. Below is Part 1 of the blog series.

 

Everyday we are consumers of numerous products and services. The simple redundancy of, what may be considered, ordinary experiences can lend themselves to the generation of ideas. So, here you are, a user, with an idea around what you believe to be the answer to a perceived problem. It's something you have spent some time thinking about and just when you want to articulate it, share it or otherwise communicate it you pause.

 

What is the process to have your voice heard? It can leave you a little lost. Well, you are not alone. In fact, you are the majority! Now, why is that? Certainly many companies have a Suggestion Box or some type of feedback mechanism? Uh, yeah, and it's highly likely that it is nothing more than a BIG BLACK HOLE. Does my idea count? DOES MY IDEA COUNT?

 

Your_Idea_Counts.pngAnswer: It absolutely does!

 

Your Idea Counts!

 

But how do you make this happen?

 

Ah, the $1 Million question and one we will address in this series about using ideation (a.k.a. ideas). But before we begin, we have to take several steps back and explain a few things.

 

First, we will go on the journey with you. That's why this is a blog series. We want you to be able to isolate any aspect of ideas, focus on it, study it, twist it and bend it so that you will walk away with something(s) that can be implemented. Of course, we could wait a few more years and just write a book, but that's not productive for the here-and-now, thus we will write short blogs that build on each other. When we are finally done, we hope to have given you enough content to have a guide for whatever path you choose to explore. We won't pretend to have all the answers, but we will bring to the discussion some successfully demonstrated business practices and a story that is currently going through several stages of evolution.

 

Let's start from the beginning.....

 

What is an idea?

 

According to Merriam-Webster, the first definition of an idea is:

 

  • a :  a transcendent entity that is a real pattern of which existing things are imperfect representations
  • b :  a standard of perfection :  ideal
  • c :  a plan for action :  design

 

We prefer this definition for business ideas:


A pattern of which existing things are imperfect representations of solutions.

 

Breaking this down is important. Ideas are generated to solve a perceived problem. Whether the problem exists in the usability of the product or service, a process, a business requirement, or simply in gaining efficiency, they often result in solutions that need to have some level of significance. Otherwise, why spend the resourcing in developing that solution? By vetting ideas in an open environment like a community, we try to draw out what is universally applicable to that product or service. If you ponder what we are trying to describe and break it down, it really makes a ton of sense.

 

How do we express an idea?

 

Where were you when you thought about a great idea? It's likely you were not in a place where you could easily transcribe what you were thinking about. Thanks to both low technology and high technology you can still capture what you are thinking about so you at least don't forget. While there are many forms of expression, the preponderance of expression comes from:

 

  • Written form. Have you ever jotted a word, sentence or more on something like a match cover? Napkin? Even the old pen-to-hand trick? This is probably the majority case.
  • Visual and/or audio form. You could use the same low technology as the written form, but thanks to cell phones and tablets (largely), you can use a camera or an application to create something that will represent your thoughts or at least remind you what it is you visualize.

 

It's quite unusual for an idea to be fully baked at its inception. We often see mental images or think about abstract concepts that represent bits and pieces of the problem solving that will ultimately lead us to the promised land of an actual end result. This is the lead to innovation, which is the act or process of introduction of something new. Even a change or removal fits the category of something new - n'est ce pas (is it not)? Real innovation is taking something that is known and making it better in whatever way necessitates the change (i.e. introduce efficiency, becoming more simplistic, complete a process or flow more easily) and it is through this that we find ways to get "better" results, often with less work.

 

From a product point of view (and the orientation of our writing), the desired business outcomes of ideas include:

 

  • Yielding more profit to the business
  • Up-sell / cross-sell opportunities
  • Leveraging or expanding the business value
  • Affect change (causes, non-profit, etc.)

 

Capturing ideas in a community provides a setting for brainstorming that historically was only achieved in person-to-person meetings. The community is now the virtual business meeting to allow users, developers, business analysts, and implementors to vet out ideas for their desirability, relevance, universal applicability across business and industry, and alignment to compliance or international requirements.

 

Action for you: Think about the variety of ways for expressing ideas; how can they lead to desired business results for your company?

 

The Thinking Model

 

A company's roadmap for a product or service is the intersection of 3 major forces:

 

  • Customers.
    Businesses are born to service customers. The voice of the customer, while not the sole input, is the likely biggest influence. In order to capture organic growth and/or market share, you would ideally offer products and/or services where there exists a higher perceived value than that of your competitors.

  • Company.
    The company creates product and/or service. There is a vision, roadmap, strategy to market and practicality of delivery to name a few. Companies are a collection of individuals with different talents and ideas that produce products and/or services that solve a real world problem with a desirable solution, and does it competitively or specific to a particular segment of the market.

 

  • Design.
    The product and/or service was intended to serve a purpose. Consideration in the area of design must be recognized. Factors such as support, documentation, constraints (i.e. design limitations) and expertise can govern what can or can't be done without having to create something altogether new and consequently a new product and/or service. Aspects such as product or service usability, simplicity, reliability, efficiency, speed and scale become the focal point in original or modified design.

 

Consider this model: Engagement models are used to take in to account the customer, company and design attributes to drive innovation through ideas.

Ideas Model.png

 

Action for you: What does this tell you about your own specific ideas? How would you use this guidance?

 

In the next blog installment, we will expand on this concept of ideas and their importance in today's highly competitive and quickly changing marketplace. We will talk about the value extended to both the customer and the company when they engage with collaborative ideas, and expand on the premise that this is a strategy that can no longer go ignored, or lost among the darkness in the proverbial black hole!

 

Another Action for you: Make sure you come back to absorb the next blog on "Why Idea generation is important today and the engagement model."

 

Please let us know what you think about this topic in the comments below. What are your challenges related to ideas?

Today is the final day of our blog series featuring notable trends from 2015 and predictions for 2016!

 

Kathryn Everest offers up her insights into corporate culture and what we should expect from business leaders who want to foster a healthy organization environment.

 

Take a look here and let us your plans for  employee engagement in the new year via the comments below.

Today marks the fourth day of our year-in-review and predictions blog series - and we celebrate the occasion with a post featuring Kevin William, vice president of customer support at Jive. Did you check it out yet?


We want to know what you think via the comments below...

 

And, if you haven't already, please read the earlier blogs featuring notable trends from 2015 and predictions for 2016:

Blog Discussion: 2015 Year in Review & 2016 Predictions - CIO/IT

Blog Discussion: 2015 Year in Review & 2016 Predictions - Marketing Edition

Blog Discuss: 2015 Year in Review and 2016 Predictions - HR/People Edition

Today, over on the Jive Blog - you've heard from John Schneider about his prediction for 2016 (hint: it's about KPIs) and what he believed to be notable in 2015 for HR organizations.

 

What do you think? Do you agree?

Today, over on the Jive corporate blog - Kim Celestre reflected on what she thought was most notable in the marketing industry in 2015 and served up a bold prediction about UGC content.

 

  • "Big data is simply not cultivated in a meaningful, contextual way."
  • "It's been proven time and time again that UGC (such as reviews, etc.) garner public trust."

 

So tell us - do you agree or disagree?

I came across Timothy Hales because he's a very active member in the External Communities Group. This is one of those community moments when you feel like you know the person just through your interaction in a community, even though you've never met face to face. Timothy has a fantastic (and very packed) workstyle, and I'm happy he shared it with everyone through this interview!

 

Leigh: Where do you work?

Timothy: I work for Esri, a mapping software company. Our technology enables organizations to create responsible and sustainable solutions to problems at local and global scales. It is based out of Redlands, CA, but I work out of our Charlotte, NC regional office.

          Q.jpg

Take a virtual tour of our headquarters - http://arcg.is/18bINpH

 

Leigh: How would you describe your current job?

Timothy: I am the Enterprise Community Manager for GeoNet, our Jive-x community. I technically do not have a job description, but you could say that I do about everything imaginable as it relates to our community. I manage the day-to-day operations of the community including user engagement, moderation, training, technical support, reporting, system administration, product testing, and more.

 

Leigh: Are you familiar with the Jive WorkTypes? If so, what was your WorkType?

Timothy: Optimizer

 

Leigh: How do you think your WorkType plays into how you get work done in Jive?

Timothy: My WorkType helps me focus on improving the user experience of our customers. Every time I am presented with a workflow or task, I am always searching for a better way to accomplish those things. Jive provides a great platform, but I am always giving feedback on how it can be better. When Jive applies this feedback to future releases, it not only helps our community but also many other Jive customers as well.

 

Leigh: Did your team have a chance to take the WorkType Finder quiz? Have you all talked about your results?

Timothy: Team?!? I am supposed to have a team? I have a lot of great resources for various projects, but I am the only one dedicated 100% to the community.

 

Leigh: So how do you use Jive at work (internal community, external community, etc.)?

Timothy: Jive is an external community for our customers. It provides a way for them to ask questions and troubleshoot software problems. They also collaborate around projects and use the platform as a way to share code.
We are working hard to build other forms of engagement through the migration of our blog and idea platforms. My colleagues are very innovative in how they apply the community to their particular industry. For example our Education Team uses the community to engage students in discussions for their massive open online courses (MOOCs). We also just launched a new series called Esri Ten For where the community asks questions and an expert answers ten of them on video.

Leigh: What a great series!

 

Leigh: What's your computer situation... Do you use a Mac or PC (or something else)?

Timothy: I just recently switched to a Mac for the first time a couple weeks ago. I've always used a PC, but was looking for a system that could increase production for graphics and video design, improve processing performance when running code when managing the community using the Jive API, and a system that travels well since it's my main connection to the community 24/7. It has taken some getting used to, but I absolutely love it. No plans to go back.

Leigh: #TeamApple

 

Leigh: Tell us what you use for your mobile device?

Timothy: In the past, I have used the Palm Pre, Motorola Q, and Samsung Galaxy; yet the iPhone 5c is by far best and most stable device I have ever had. There is no way I am switching from Apple. Like a friend said, "Apple's walled garden may be small, but it's a very nice garden."

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Leigh: Besides Jive, what apps/software/tools can't you live without?

Timothy:

  • Waze - The best navigation app out there. Sure, I know how to get to work or my house, but this app helps me avoid accidents, road closures, and traffic jams.
  • Goodbudget - I still believe in the importance of creating a budget, and there is no better way to manage your spending than with a cash envelope budget.
  • EverNote - Although I use OneNote for work, I use EverNote for personal items. I like how I can access it on my computer, iPad, or iPhone.
  • Snagit - I am always grabbing screenshots of issues and basic how-to steps. TechSmith Snagit makes it very simple.

 

Leigh: Do you have a favorite non-computer gadget?

Timothy: That's a hard one since everything nowadays is computerized. I enjoy cooking and so there are a variety of kitchen gadgets that I like, but probably my favorite right now is my pull-up bar. It's portable so I can have it in my bedroom, kitchen, or anywhere with a door frame. I've added a bit of bling from the past year to help with motivation. It also doubles as a monkey bar for my kids. They try very hard to do pull-ups, but more than anything they enjoy swinging on it.

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Leigh: How do you stay organized? What's your favorite to-do list manager?

Timothy: At home, I am not even close to being organized as compared to my work organization. OneNote is my friend and the only way I stay up on work. I take a scrum-style approach to how I handle my daily tasks. I have a "back-log" for random ideas and tasks that don't have to get done in the near future. My "current" list is for tasks that have a due date or must get done soon. The "today" list is of tasks that I have pulled from the "current" list that I plan to get done each day. The "completed" list helps me realize that I am actually getting things done because who doesn't like the feeling of accomplishment? I do a full review of each list every Friday morning. That helps me prepare to hit the ground running Monday morning.

Leigh: I love this approach.

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Leigh: What you surround yourself with is important, what's your work space like?

Timothy: I like having a clean desk. I may have a bit of clutter in my drawers or overhead bin, but you won't find that on my desk. I am a very technical guy at heart, hence the reason for three monitors and the MacBook Pro. I start every morning with a cup of English Breakfast tea. Yes, it is sweet! I live in the South. I keep a water bottle close by to maintain my hydration. Slightly behind me are the handprints of my children and a bridal portrait of my wife.

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Leigh: What's your best time-saving trick?

Timothy: Stay off of your devices. It is amazing how much time we waste every day looking at our phones.

 

Leigh: How do you balance work and life?

Timothy: I work some strange hours at times, but try to keep my work during normal business hours. Outside of those hours I make sure everyone is asleep or out of the house before breaking out the MacBook. So if you work with me you may get emails between Midnight and 6AM. I love spending time with my family! I have been married for 12 years and have four children (one girl and three boys). We play soccer, xBox, board games, Legos, Nerf guns, and a whole lot more. I am active in my local church and serve in our preschool department. In my spare time I enjoy running and staying fit. This year I took on the challenge of earning my Spartan Trifecta.

Leigh: My jaw just dropped. You do so much and with such a big family. Good on ya!

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Leigh: What's your sleep routine like?

Timothy: Sleep... what's that? Haha. I'm usually in the bed by midnight and up by 6 am or so. With four kids I rarely sleep in and always go to bed way later than I should. I like to think I get more sleep than I actually do, but my Jawbone tells me otherwise. I get about six hours of sleep on average.

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Leigh: Are you more of an introvert, ambivert or extrovert?

Timothy: Ambivert for sure. I have characteristics from both ends of the spectrum. I am the youngest of five children with the next oldest being 10 years older than me, so I grew up kind of as an only child. For this reason I tend to enjoy being by myself. However, this does not keep me from being social. I can strike up a conversation with anyone at any time. I really don't go out much unless it's with my family.

 

Leigh: What's the best advice you've ever received (and from whom)?

Timothy: One of the best pieces of advice came from a previous boss. He challenged me to continue my education. Not just the degree variety, but anything that helps me grow as person or advance my career. Since then, I am always looking for learning opportunities. Whether it be online classes, books, articles, seminars, or breakfast with an elder, just get out there an keep learning.

 

I don't know about y'all, but I'm certainly going to use some of his tips and I'm re-motivated to make the most of every day! Thank you so much, Timothy, for sharing your fantastic workstyle. Does anyone have any questions for Timothy?

Hi All -

 

As you might have seen on Jive's corporate blog - this week, we're kicking off an exciting blog series that highlights key industry trends from 2015 and predictions for 2016.

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As you know, this time of year is all about reflecting on the past year and thinking about what lies ahead for the next twelve months. Tomorrow, November 17th, we start the series of topics with: CIO/IT: Jive’s VP of Security, David Cook and VP of IT, Mike Westlund portend AWS and the future of the cloud - take a look at what they have to say and let us know what you think via comments below!

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And stay tuned for the rest of topics:

  • HR/People: Senior Director of Product Marketing, John Schneider, peers into the talent wars and user-to-user relationships
  • Marketing: Senior Director of Product Marketing and clairvoyant, Kim Celestre, talks big data and user-generated content
  • Support: Vice President of Customer Support and soothsayer, Kevin Williams, has a few things to say about attention spans and delighting customers
  • Mobile: A duo of oracles, Director of Product Marketing, Gili Guri-Mill, and VP of Products, Dilshad Simons, stir up some insights on the app vs. browser economy
  • Culture: And finally, Jive’s Strategist of Communications & Collaboration Solutions, Kathryn Everest, will behold the entire organizational ecosystem

 

Buckle up and stay tuned to our corporate blog - we have some exciting topics to discuss.

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Elisa Steele Jive's CEO, spoke today on CXOTalk about how social collaboration can create a connected workforce as well as connected customers. "At Jive, we believe in the power of human centricity and we make technology that helps people work better together" said Elisa.

 

At the heart of every company lies a passion for doing something different. For Jive, we want to change the way people work together.

 

Elisa explains that changing a company's culture is possible. First, accepting different workstyles and ways of thinking is important as is giving employees the tools to work across that spectrum. Next engage and empower employees at every level to drive a more transparent culture. Finally, work on digitizing and engaging with customers in order to really understand what their challenges are and how they perceive your brand.

 

Highlights include:

  • How collaboration technology helps build customer relationships
  • How can we transition digital technology from the personal world to the enterprise world (both internally and externally)
  • How collaboration technology can help solve business problems

 

Watch the interview now:

 

 

 

Let us know what you think!

 

For community managers, knowing the right questions to ask is the key to success. Why? If you can crack the code on what community members want and need from each other – and from the organization – then your content and conversations are much more likely to drive engagement. Plus, if you can meet your executives’ business needs through the community, then you will have a champion in your corner and some truly powerful outcomes to report.

With that in mind, we created this infographic to help community managers ask the right questions and deliver the right results.

10 Questions Every Community Manager Should Ask

We (Leader Networks) developed this infographic because the community manager role has recently stepped into the spotlight. Your business is finally waking up to the reality that you hold valuable insight into customer relationships – and that puts you at the center of customer strategy development! After all, who knows more about what the customer wants and needs than someone who interacts with them on a daily basis?

 

Your role becomes more strategic and you are no longer defined by basic metrics such as number of new members or views on recent content shares. As community manager, you will be called upon to fulfill two distinct functions. First, you will be tasked with creating a digital experience where customers are interacting with each other and your organization. Second, you must enable the community to solve a business problem or accelerate a business process online.

It’s not an easy job. However, knowing the right questions to ask is often the first step on the journey to success. We hope this infographic helps!

If you're a content publisher and use Jive, you've probably thought about whether you could make better use of Jive as a publishing platform. As the leader of Jive's technical documentation team, I've been thinking about this a long time. It's not that I don't believe in Jive for docs teams: I do! See Why Technical Documentation Needs Jive for details on how Jive helps us build technical information every day. That's why every time a customer or prospect has asked me SOOOOO, ARE YOUR DOCS IN JIVE? WHY NOT? over the years, I died a little inside. The fact is, we've been publishing in HTML webhelp, and PDF, but not in Jive. Until now.

 

It's with great pleasure and a lot of gratitude to Libby Taylor, Ben Walker, David Bastedo, Kevin Williams, Sid Bos, Melanie Jennings, and Leona Campbell--and especially to Suite Solutions, who provided the technology to get this done--that I can announce that we're starting to eat our own delicious Jive-brand dog food. Look right here to see the 8.0 Admin Guide in Jive format, with full Jive functionality!

 

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(That's Jiver dog Pickle demonstrating.)

 

Why Didn't We Do This Before?

Jive has made amazing progress toward supporting content authors, and we're making more all the time--we've added bulk upload, content sets, improved place curation and many other features in the last year and we're planning to ship more bulk content features in 2016. However, for documentation at scale (we publish more than 1000 topics for each version, and we know many customers have many more), we still have the following challenges, and we know some of our customers share them:

 

  • We need robust version control across many files
  • We EXTENSIVELY reuse content across versions and editions--our source is DITA XML, so we do that with a combination of branching, tagging, build-time filtering, and content referencing. There isn't currently a way to do that in Jive. We reuse content not only at the topic level, but down to the level of steps and table cells.
  • We need a hierarchical table of contents and inter-document linking that survives updates, because we have many topics and long-form content in chapters.
  • We need to be able to create multiple outputs from the same source.

 

Example:

Imagine you need to insert an identical legal notice in 45 out of 300 documents you've posted. . . somewhere in a space. Or that you need to find all the references to available bandwidth and change them by one digit--these are the kinds of updates that tech docs does routinely. In our XML editor, the first operation is a simple one-file update followed by a rebuild, and the second is a simple search-and-replace operation. Did we screw that up? Oops, let's just revert that whole change in SVN.

 

In Jive. . . search for some string in the content, open each doc individually, cut, paste, save--oh no, I missed a doc someone put in a different space. How did that happen? Wait, Legal changed the wording! I have to do it all over! Separately in each one of those 45 documents! This isn't scalable past a certain point.

 

The Solution: Write in DITA, Publish in Jive

Nope, we were not giving up our XML source--it just provides too much freedom and functionality. However, we have long thought that it would be useful to publish docs in Jive--provided we were able to write and maintain them with all that great document management functionality Jive doesn't (yet) have. This became a reality quite recently when Suite Solutions wrote a connector that transforms DITA XML content into HTML and injects it into a place in Jive--creating a hierarchical, interlinked document set complete with an auto-generated Table of Contents and breadcrumbs. It even gets automatically marked "Official"!  Voila--we create a versioned, semantically tagged source in DITA XML, and we can publish the content in three ways: as HTML5 webhelp (our regular docs at docs.jivesoftware.com), in PDF (embedded in the HTML docs for customers who like a print-like presentation), and as JIVE DOCUMENTS IN JIVE COMMUNITY, with the full Jive capability of sharing, commenting, rating, analytics, and so on.

 

Here is a sample topic screenshot. Note the breadcrumbs showing the hierarchy at the bottom. These links, as well as section TOCs, are auto-generated based on the hierarchy of our source files. You'll also see that internal cross-references are neatly converted to be links between Jive documents. You'll see version information at the top right of the file: every time we ship a new inline of Jive 8, or add a significant update, we'll overwrite each document in place, preserving any comments and other information just as if we edited and re-saved it manually instead of running a script.

 

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And here's what the nice searchable TOC page looks like. It's auto-generated from the same table of contents file we use for the HTML5 version of the 8.0 Admin docs (but here, it's expanded).

 

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How Does the Magic Happen?

A folder gets added to the DITA Open Toolkit (an open-source library we used to transform DITA XML files into living, breathing docs). This folder is integrated with the toolkit and uses custom XSLT to create a Jive-ready output. We then install an add-on in the destination community that will provide authentication access to post files using the REST API. Finally, we run a build script against the Jive Online Documentation ditamap (a hierarchical list of files that's also used to create our other documentation formats) that builds the Jive-format files from the latest content checked into our SVN repository, and posts them in the destination community.

 

So, What's the Plan?

Currently, we only have the Jive 8 admin docs out in Community. Ben Walker has connected the typeahead search in Supportal to pop up our Jive-format documentation (along with KB articles) when you start typing a case description, which should get you to relevant docs faster! We already have showing statistics showing Support case deflection based on reading documentation articles.

 

We also recommend bookmarking the Jive 8 Community Administration Help space for easy searching. The Documentation team monitors this space and will respond to comments on documentation topics, so feel free to put your questions and comments there as well as sharing, bookmarking, and linking these docs in Community.

 

Deploying multiple versions of the same content in a Jive community is raising some questions about search, but stay tuned for more products, editions, and versions to have docs in Jive soon. Happy reading and keep on Jiving!

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