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Our external community is private - you must be customer, partner or employee to register and view/contribute content. Within the community, everyone has the same access (with a few small exceptions here and there). We have talked about creating a partner 'ecosystem' and putting badges on partners, but have not implemented this yet. Partners are encouraged to participate and assist customers, as this builds their reputation and credibility.
The question of protecting partner IP and confidentiality has come up for us to. For now, because there are no access restrictions, if there is content that a partner does not want a competitor to see, then it is not posted.
If there is content that is appropriate for customers, but not appropriate for competitive Partners, I think this would be tricky to set up. My guess is that it would involve Permission Groups (on the Admin side) and special containers (spaces or sub-spaces) for the content to reside in.
I hope this is helpful!
As Trish explains, the level of permissions across the entire Jive platform is a factor in what you describe. We have customers who have successfully partitioned their channel partners in a way that they would never see each others' stuff, but it involved some customization from Jive Professional Services.
Because what you describe has become a key requirement for many of our customers, it is currently in plan (subject to change) to make this kind of permission partitioning part of the product in a future release (watch for details later this year). If you'd like more specfics, be sure to reach out to your Jive Sales Manager or Strategic Account Manager.