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...And since the last few weeks have been a rollercoaster I’m taking some time out to have a coffee and reflect on the experience. Of course quiet reflection is not really my thing and so I’ve decided to Work out Loud (inspired by John Stepper and his wonderful book, I’m a quarter of the way through) and share more of our journey with you.


Pearson made the decision almost two years ago to move to the Cloud, it was a strategic decision we made because we felt that we wanted to be at the forefront of Jive’s technology. In order to do this we knew we’d have to give up a lot of the customisation we’d come to know and love… OK love is a strong word because let’s not forget with every customisation comes a heap of problems, a bug here an issue there. We can pretend that having all of the extras makes life easier but often it doesn’t.

 

We also wanted to think about resourcing, at the time when we made the decision we were one confirmed community manager and in the process of getting a second head signed off. Upgrades are time consuming and expensive. We went through this twice, we even skipped Jive 6 altogether because I selfishly took some time off to have a baby. We needed to think about a more sustainable model. As I write this I have two community managers in my team and the possibilities for Neo seem endless because we can focus on helping and supporting the community add value now we’re in the Cloud.

 

So what you really all want to know is was it worth it – the short answer HELL YES!!! The long answer is a lot more complex and for this reason I’m going to revert to bullets and be really clear about how I feel.

 

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What are the challenges?

  • You are losing your personalisation/customisation and your ability to be unique. The theming is limited and we’ve been frustrated with some of the all or nothing options around this.
  • You lose a lot of access in the admin console. I have a superb backend support team, they’re not overly happy about how much power they have lost and are frustrated we have to open cases for simple small things. Of course this will vary from company to company but for us it is a pain point.
  • We lost some cool features we didn’t realise were that cool until we lost them, for example we can no longer update our status in our community directly from twitter.
  • Activity + Pages is no substitute for overview, there is so much work to do in this area. Some of it is really, really basic – for example there is no way to switch from overview to Activity + Pages in a staged and planned way. Once you flick the switch you are essentially building you pages on the fly.
  • The tiles you can save as templates are pointless, saving five people or five links isn’t adding value, being able to save a content set or a carousel would be so helpful. If I could create pages in a secret group and move them even better. This is going to be a hurdle for our community. And you can easily lose you work and there is no way to revert back.
  • There is no trending content tile, this seems to have been removed, no category tile which means anyone who is being a good community manager is being penalised as they can’t add categories easily to their page.
  • I am 100% overwhelmed by the amount of chat around bugs, roadmap and where the product is going, with the annual upgrade you knew the features and changes inside out by the time you got them, and they were old news. In fact Jive would be on to the next version before your upgrade was complete. I am now having to rethink my entire roadmap and strategy. I need to be at the forefront of knowing what is coming down the line so I can understand it, translate it for my community and be ready to implement it, in a short space of time. Jive together with Cloud community managers need to work together to have a better way of giving us some long term goals. This is the areas I’d flag for Jive as a priority for them to focus on.

 

And what is great?

  • This is the first upgrade where I’ve spent the first few days hearing the community tell me how much they LOVE the changes. They love News, they love search and they love the look and feel - HURRAH!!!
  • Advanced Gamification notifications are back in the activity stream.
  • The mobile experience is so much better – we can’t wait to really push this across Pearson now we know it is a much better user experience.
  • Videos can be uploaded in the app and they play!
  • Whilst I have my issues with Activity Stream + Pages, it is clearly the right strategy and as the tiles become more useful we are going to enjoy transitioning away from overview pages. We love the mobile responsive design.
  • The community feels more like a collaboration tool rather than a social intranet, it feels grown up and has a much slicker way of inviting people to join the conversation rather than just digest the content.
  • Insights – I don’t even know where to start but THANK YOU!!!! I’m so excited!
  • The million and one other features that are simply awesome share content, follow a tag, impact metrics etc. etc.
  • We get the new features with everyone else – we’re already excited about the next release.

 

In summary the whole point of ESN’s is to help people get work done, collaborate and create communities. Jive Cloud makes this so much easier. If you are still undecided my advice would be to write a list of deal breakers and then work with Jive to see what solutions there are to resolve those challenges. This is what we did.

 

My advice to Jive is not everyone is going to be able to move to Cloud, so just be careful you don’t create a second class experience for those customers who can’t.

I’d like to finish by saying it wasn’t always easy, I wasn’t always happy about some of the functionality I was losing but I had the support of Jive all the way through, we had some bumps and false starts and some bits we still need to iron out but the support and care we’ve received during the process has been second to none so thank you everyone who has helped Get Pearson to the Cloud!

I’ve broken the cardinal sin I tell my community to try and avoid…don’t start a blog if you’re not going to have time to update it. Well the last few weeks have run away from me with the upgrade and planning a wedding. As fellow Jivers and community managers I’m sure you will forgive me.

Pearson is now exactly one week away from upgrade, as I write this I’m looking at the clock and thinking this time next week we will be preparing to wind Neo down and take her offline ahead of her big move to the Cloud.

 

How am I feeling? Strangely for me – rather calm, perhaps it is the amount of time we’ve been planning this upgrade and I just want it done? Perhaps it is because this is the first upgrade where I have a fully resourced team and not only a team but an awesome team. Or perhaps I’m just tired, tired of our community and even a few bumps in the road and frayed tempers next week will be better than looking at the same old home page we’ve had for over a year. Our community is ready for the changes and we’re almost ready to deliver that change…

 

I say almost because this week I have 13 meetings with the various comms leads to finalise the configuration for News and the final hurdle is providing me with a bit of a challenge. In my last blog I had settled on the following streams:

  • Pearson News
  • Business Unit News

 

We’ve made some adjustments and for go live we are going to have four streams:

  • John’s Blog
  • Pearson News
  • Your News
  • Neo News

 

Let me start with the easy ones, Your News is set by the users business unit in their profile they will get their business unit updates and the blog content from the corresponding L1 leader. This has been fairly simple for us to message and share with our communication partners. I met with two today and their questions were similar and they were happy with the outcome. They will be happier when we can add rules to add the L2 leaders and we plan to do this in the New Year.

 

Neo News is helping us transition the community to the Cloud we are using it to put our help and training material front and centre, our recent survey results told us we needed to do a better of advertising the materials we have created and so we feel a stream for Neo updates is important. This is also going to help us when we get regular Cloud updates, we can use this channel to inform and update the community.

 

Pearson News and John’s blog have been the areas where we’ve boggled and tried to come up with a single solution but so far we’ve been stumped and we’ve landed on having two.

Pearson News replaces our homepage slider, one news story every day from around the business, the level of importance varies from story to story, they’re important enough to be on our news page but we wouldn’t want them sent as a notification. John’s posts on the other hand are important and a big selling point for news is that we will post once on Neo and no longer need to send an email too. (more on this in a future post)

 

So John’s blog cannot be incorporated into Pearson News? Where do we put it? One option was to add John’s blog as a place to each of the business unit rules. This threw up an error I’m yet to get an answer on so i’m afraid to use it in case John’s blog posts don’t get through.

 

Then we thought about creating a stream for important messages the ones we want an email notification for? Great idea in theory but then that is another location we put content on Neo. And we create more confusion. Today we settled on the stream “John’s Blog” it will just include his blog posts, our CEO communicates regularly and his blogs are a great mix of stories of his experience in and outside of Pearson with colleagues, learners and customers we figured why not draw attention to it in the simplest way.

 

Of course with 7 days to go this is all subject to change and I still have 11 more meetings with my communication colleagues so watch this space…