In 2007 and 2008, companies made huge investments in Web 2.0 technology for online communities. Some were savvy, innovative early adopters, but many jumped on a bandwagon they didn’t quite understand yet. The situation mirrors the CRM mania of the late 90s and early 00s, when companies had an edict from above to implement CRM, so they did. Then a couple of years later they were left asking, “So what was the business value of this huge project?”
I think that is what 2009 is going to be for the service industry: a lot of Web 2.0 hangovers, and a renewed push to monetize the investments they’ve already made.
I’m gearing up on this topic to publish some research in 2009 on the best practice metrics and ROI story for communities, and I’ve run into a functional gap in Web 2.0 solutions that prevents some huge potential ROI: bridging internal and external communities. Here is a an example scenario:
Customer calls tech support with a system error. The tech support engineer (TSE) does an enterprise search and finds a discussion thread in the customer forum about the same problem. In the discussion thread, a customer ‘expert,’ a PS employee, and a development employee all collaborated and solved the problem. Using IP presence awareness, the TSE can see that the customer expert, PS and development people are all online, so he invites them all into a real-time collaboration with the customer. With all the experts in one desktop sharing/web chat session, the problem is resolved in minutes.
The stumbling blocks here are in two areas: Internal vs. external discussion forums, and universal Web chat/collaboration: (more…)