ROI of Online Cloud Communities

I remember back in 2008-2009 being asked whether social / digital / communities had any business value. To me it was instinctively obvious, but I got that it was not obvious to others. In wanting others to see what I saw, I started down the road of creating ROI models for digital / social / online communities. Now many years later, I am hearing the same question so I revisited the topic in some new research, ROI of Online Cloud Communities. This report goes above and beyond what that early research I did discovered. Screen Shot 2016-01-29 at 12.08.35 PM

I have interviewed at least 100 companies over the years and the stories all have had similar threads. While the actual use case might not have been exactly the same, they all had one similar component. That component? It was that there was a new level of open, honest, genuine and authentic communication. And note, ROI of online communities is NOT limited to customer service. That’s old news.

I remember reading about the predictions in the Cluetrain Manifesto. If you have not read that book, it is a must read. It was written in 1999-2000 time frame. It predicted where we are today in this digital / social / community oriented world. The ROI comes from better communication between all levels of employees, customers, partners – pretty much any stakeholder in a company and it’s customers. Whether B2B or B2C, B2B2C or whatever the business model is, what is true is those companies that are digitally enabled are more successful.

Percentage of Profit Rays BookFrom Ray Wang’s book, Disrupting Digital Business By Ray Wang, the figure about shows it’s clear that digital leaders have more of the overall marketshare and percentage of profits. Why is that? Think about customers talking to companies and giving honest feedback that helps:

  • Improve products and services and even helps the company innovate
  • Reduces unnecessary steps or processes
  • Helps executives understand what the trends are not only with their company but with others and provides that mission critical insight…

In the report, you will find 6 general areas that online communities can contribute to the two things that are very important to business – either reducing costs or increasing revenue. You can download the excerpt and learn more about what I discovered.

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If you have built a community or are a community manager and have seen similar results, I’d love to hear more about them! Maybe even make it into our case study library! (And don’t forget Constellation’s SuperNova Awards for 2016!!) If you’ve done something extraordinary, I’d love to hear about it and include it in my research. There will be info on how to apply to the 2016 SuperNova Awards soon!

May you find yourself building a community — if not now, soon! Those that have can attest to the amazing value it brings to a company. And not just in soft benefits- there are many, many that I put into the ROI model that are tangible, bottom and top-line business benefits.

@DrNatalie Petouhoff, VP and Principal Analyst, Constellation Research

Covering Customer-facing applications and their business results!




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