A major reason, or benefit, for integrating cloud technologies and services into your consumer collaboration community is the opportunity to experiment in a sandbox environment with the consumer.  The community provides the perfect sandbox environment for this experimentation because it is outside of the commerce architecture so it will not impact the sales and yet it has the consumer interest and activities in the environment to flex and test out the technologies and services prior to integrating into the commerce architecture.  This test bed concept is a key aspect of every life cycle and in this example the retailer is simply utilizing another platform to open the validation to the external consumer.

The community can provide you with a platform and framework that supports a quick turn around to implement new functionality without directly impacting the business critical sales platform.  This also will provide the  platform to support a progression from the conceptual to business value.  The challenge that I see with the cloud technologies and services is one of validation and integration to the existing business services.  Utilizing the collaborative community as this testbed platform provides both immediate and long term value; the immediacy of trying the service or technology and the long term of a process to move into the business value platform. 

This framework provides a method, or process pipeline, to quickly test new and changes features and software as it is released into and by the cloud.  The retailer could never analyzed, introduce, test and then migrate to the sales platform the volume of features and technology that is available and constantly growing and changing in the cloud.  The collaboration community, however, provides the platform to experiment with the technology and features to gauge and validate with the consumer the potential value prior to implementing in the sales platform. 

This process and utilization of the collaboration community as a test bed provides the business with the method and framework to quickly roll out new feature and functionality in a manner that allows a widespread trial.  The cloud technology cost model combined with the test bed platform of the collaborative community can provide an extremely effective process, or pipeline to quickly integrating new features and functionality into the sales platform.  The retailer may find that very few features and functionality available in the cloud will actually work in the sales platform after running through this experimentation process.  The beauty of this framework and process though is that the retailer does not need to invest a great deal to realize the results.

And now for the audience participation portion of the show…

ECommerce will have wide ranging impacts on both the retail and manufacturing sectors.  How can you focus these abilities to improve the consumer's experience?  Improving the consumer’s experience will require a re-evaluation of the sales channels, the manufacturing channels and practices and the supply chain channels and practices from the raw materials to the consumers’ homes.  In order to ensure and maintain success in this new reality you must harness the tools and capabilities in many new areas.  How can you support these continuously changing requirements?