I have mentioned that it is important to define and maintain a roadmap of achievement objectives and returns that can be measured to build support for the community.  Of course it should not be required to state this point because any business initiative should start with a plan and a roadmap. In the case of social networking and community support though I think it is even more important start with a clear and achievable plan.  This is a startup and as such requires a clear and achievable direction and a method to measure success along the way.  Even though I also state that this initiative requires a long term commitment I clearly understand that you will never maintain the commitment over the long term without a series of achievements along the way.

Developing the roadmap provides an opportunity to define the mission and then clearly define the objectives that can be achieved as a result of the roadmap.  When the mission and the objectives are defined you can then focus on the how you will meet the objectives.  This is project, or program, 101; first you define the ‘what’ and then you define the ‘how’.  This process method helps to evaluate and define reasonable and achievable objectives and schedule for meeting these objectives.  This will also encourage you to identify key stakeholders and partners and then define the expectations for these partners and stakeholders.  This will provide you with a clear proposal including objectives and schedule for review and approval from leadership.  This is critical to achieving the initial support to start the initiative.

The challenge though with this initiative, or program, is the nature of the community and the velocity of change in both technology and services supporting the community.  This is exactly the reason I suggest for embracing free and low cost cloud technology and services; it allows you to experiment with technology and services with a low entry cost so you can drop technology and services as the landscape changes.  This initiative will be difficult enough due to the fickle nature of the consumer and this requires the full focus from your organization and partners and this will not be helped if you were always worried about the cost of technology.  First you should focus on understanding and meeting the demands of the consumer while meeting the objectives of your initiative.

It is important to develop a roadmap and strategy to deliver the roadmap for any initiative and the consumer community is no different.  Utilizing cloud technologies and services allows a great deal of flexibility to experiment with community capabilities.  This is an important factor in the success of this initiative and should not be overlooked or underplayed.

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?