I left the tech industry in 2016 as a Community Manager, but I won’t ever stop being involved in the technology world. As a Community Manager I am watching day in and day out, as the tech industry is revolutionizing Community Management. Now I have seen a couple of examples of the reverse. I want to share these two awe-inspiring examples how communities are revolutionizing the Tech Industry.
Outsourcing your product development*
Discourse is a software platform that enables community discussions. It is an open source product that helps many of us community managers create inclusive spaces for people and connect. It is not surprising to find, that a software company that specializes in facilitating communities is reaching out to their own community of developers to push the product forward.
Most tech companies I have worked with, keep product development in house and tightly wrapped. Some of the more adventurous companies are slowly incorporating community requests for features, enhancements and fixes. Some are even more daring and encourage their product managers to be on the product community. That way they can lend credibility to our listening activities and to be transparent with customers and fans. As a Community Manager I just chuckle at such behavior. To me it is a no brainer that product management should be tightly interwoven with the community. After all, who knows best what you product should do, if not the day to day user, aka the community member.
But what Discourse did in 2016 takes it to a whole new level.
Discourse’s Product Management team was inspired by Mozilla’s Open Source Grant processes and started financing, what they call “bite sized development work”. This work was be completed by employees, volunteers or anyone from the Open Source developer community. Let me restate this, because it is absolutely mind blowing.
Discourse has decided to put up their own money for development work by “outsiders” that would not normally fit into their product roadmap.
Benefits of Community Driven Product Features:
- It helps build features that customers want but company resources can not afford
- It garners loyalty and personal investment from independent developers and your employees alike that takes them well beyond the 9-5 job requirements.
- Customers will feel heard and appreciated if their ideas will make it into the product, even if it is not the “most profitable” development for Discourse
- Customer retention will rise due to satisfaction and transparency in the market
- Better employee hiring decisions, since new developers hired through this process are familiar with your product, processes and your company culture, which will lead to happier employees.
In their February blog post, they stated that :
“To date we’ve paid 16 different developers a total of $17’000 to work on bite-sized tasks. All of the work is open source, and two of the developers we’ve worked on paid assignments with are now core members of our team!”*
To read more about the Discourse Encouragement Fund and project vision, visit the Discourse Blog.
Kickstarter sponsored events
It is no secret that I deeply believe in communities for any and all organizations. But Support Driven has raised the bar so high, it took my breath away. I recently met Scott Tran, who organizes the Support Driven community on Slack. If you don’t know Support Driven yet, it’s time you check them out. Support Driven is a community of Support Professionals with over 1,500+ professionals who help each other with challenges and advice for building your career or your team in a customer support role.
Scott and I recently chatted about one of their annual conferences, SUPCONF. In 2016, the Support Driven team launched a Kickstarter event to raise funds for their very first community driven and hosted event for support professionals in the USA. Their aim was to raise $10,000 to finance the event, and because they are awesome they totalled $53,000+. Needless to say the event was an absolute success.
“SUPCONF is bringing people who want to make a career out of support together. There are so many amazing opportunities to learn and grow a career in support and we want everyone in support to know about them.”**
The event offers training, networking, and so much more. Now the Support Driven team also have a community job board to complement their professional networking/ discussion opportunities.
What’s next for SUPCONF?
The entire concept of community members coming together to launch their own event is awesome. This community is also empowered to choose the sessions they want to hear. Furthermore as a Community Manager and events manager, I am excited and indebted to people like Scott. Scott and others push the boundaries for marketing and community management thereby setting higher standards for us all to live up to and surpass.
If you have experienced some excellent community influenced events/ news/ insights, please share. I would love to explore more inspirational stories.