Corporate Community Trend: Focus on People

I was looking at the new SocialText 3.0 release this morning, which TechCrunch describes as a blend of “Facebook, Twitter and the Enterprise”, when I started thinking about a trend that I have been noticing for quite a while related to companies, communities, and community software.

The Software

SocialText has been known for their wiki software; however, the latest 3.0 release shifts the focus more toward people with the new SocialText People (social networking functionality) and Dashboard (attention stream management of conversations, colleagues and more). The wiki is still the core part of the product, but this additional functionality shifts the focus onto people.

Jive Software also recently released a new version of Clearspace, and the major differences between this release and the previous ones are also focused on people with social networking and groups functionality leading the way.

These are just a couple of examples of community software focused on the enterprise; however, they are incorporating the features that people have been using extensively in their personal online community interactions through sites like Facebook, Twitter, and more to connect with other people.

The Trend

If you look at the early community software platforms and other early ways of building communities (mailing lists, etc.), the focus was on the data more than the person. Inside companies, the focus was similar. Companies had knowledge bases, document repositories, email and other ways for people to share data. Most of these applications made it easy to find data, but difficult to find out any real information about the people behind the data. Even some of the applications designed to help coworkers find other people within the company were often skill based, which made it easy to find someone with Java programming expertise but not the sort of information that tells you about the person behind the skill set.

I’ve said many times in presentations and here on this blog that communities are all about the people. This has always been an important concept, but it has been more true in social communities and less true in many corporate communities. Over the past months, I have been seeing a bigger trend toward companies and other organizations putting the focus on the people in corporate communities. The information is still important, but I like seeing this shift toward people. Knowing more about the person behind the data can help put the data into context. For example, information about venture capital investments coming from me would be less credible than information about venture capital from Guy Kawasaki.

Having the functionality to connect with other people in a corporate community, whether it is an internal company community or an external community focused on a company’s products, helps us strengthen our connections with other people who share similar interests. This trend toward putting the focus on people is an important step in the right direction for corporate communities.

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14 thoughts on “Corporate Community Trend: Focus on People”

  1. How funny! I noticed it on TechCrunch and almost thought I was famous until I realized it was a different Dawn Foster 🙂

  2. Great observation about where the market is going, Dawn. I am currently involved in a discussion about a Wikipedia article that is taking place on blogs and IM. The wiki “talk” page just wasn’t cutting it. I think it will be interesting to see where innovation goes as the trend continues!

  3. Scoble – thanks for the link to the video.

    Justin – I’m always fascinated to watch how people collaborate in different ways. For some people the wiki talk page feels natural while others prefer IM, email, discussion forums, and other ways to discuss a topic.

  4. Hi Dawn, allow me to introduce myself. My name is Alan Lepofsky, and I am the Director of Marketing at Socialtext. I created the demos, videos, and screenshots for 3.0, and I promise, cross my heart, even pinkie swear that I used to create the names used in the demo! What an amazing coincidence. Well, it is a pleasure to meet you, and I’ve added you to my blog list!

  5. Alan,

    That’s so funny! It’s a pretty common name, so I guess I shouldn’t be too surprised. It’s nice to meet you!

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