How to build vibrant communities - a summary

I am asked by several people and organizations to provide a summary description about our work around Community Equity and SunSpace. Instead publishing individual responses I thought its more efficient to write a blog post. So here we go ..

Over the last 8 years our team @ Sun has been tasked to build vibrant technical communities.
During this time - the name of the organization changed from Knowledge Management to Intellectual Capital management to Community Enablement.
It does not really matter would you call it - the most important lesson we learned is

It's all about people - adoption - value

This does not mean that architecture, tools and technologies are not important. But you can build the coolest (social) site and community platform and tools - but what if the users don't use it ?
We spent a lot of time to learn and research what people motivates to contribute and participate in communities and developed a simple but efficient model on

How to build vibrant communities


200909281514.jpg


Value System -What is in it for me

Behavior of people are highly influenced by the perceived value. Each vibrant community has its specific value system.

Example: A manager has two people reporting to him - a sales rep and a technical engineer.
He ask both the question: " Next calendar year - you can choose between a.) to get 5% more salary or b.) working an a cool project."
Guess what the sales rep will pick versus the technical engineer :-) .

Based on this findings we created a Method and System for tracking Social Capital (Community Equity). Community Equity  has been deployed as part of Sun's internal Social Community platform called SunSpace and is in production since July 2008. In July 2009 Sun open sourced Community Equity under the BSD license.
In SunSpace we implemented various Tips and Tricks on how to show the values to the users

  • myEquity widget showing the values and ranking of a person on their myProfile (Facebook like component of SunSpace)ceq_topcountries.gif
  • all contributions of a person are automatically aggregated on a users myProfile
  • Top Contributors widgets
  • Specific "honored" community roles displayed on their MyProfile page
  • Recognition programs
  • etc....

Example of the Community Equity widgets can be found here

Methodology - Adoption

Communities don' t just work. The creation and sustaining of communities needs active facilitation.
As part of the SunSpace deployment we created a Community cookbook which covers following topics 200901192239.jpg

  • Community overview (CoP,project teams, social networks ...)
  • Community build (roles,responsibilities,measures, getting started)
  • Active Community management (facilitation tips & tricks, health check )
  • Scalability (community driver model, self supporting communities)
  • etc.

A good example of best practices can be found on the Onestop blog .

Architecture - Federated Services

From an Enterprise 2.0 perspective a secure and federated services architecture should be designed to allows to deploy and consume (any) internal or external services.
ohh - and don't forget to enable the architecture for all the emerging Mashup's :-).

An explanation about the SunSpace architecture can be found here

so - where is the proof of the pudding?

sun_space.jpgThe implementation of SunSpace has been proven to be successful . Since we launched SunSpace in July 2008 we have

  • > 25'000 users
  • 10 time growth within six month
  • > 500 communities
  • > 130'000 content objects (wiki pages, attachments etc.)
  • > 5.5 million social activities
  • consolidation of 3 existing knowledge management tools (aka shutdown these sites )




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About Enterprise 2.0,Community Equity, Semantic Web, Social Enterprise and how to Build Vibrant Communities

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