In order to maintain a high level of participation in your consumer collaboration community from both your consumer members and your extended partner network the participants much feel that they are realizing positive benefits.  From the consumer perspective they must feel they are realizing benefits from the direct feedback of the consumer members and benefits from the community host it the form of early sale notification or other types of special savings.  From the extended partner network perspective they must feel they are realizing benefits from the direct feedback of the consumer members and the data collected that can be used in analysis.  Finally from the community host perspective they must feel they are realizing benefits from increased sales and product and services feedback directly from the consumer members.

This can be a difficult balancing act across the participants and the host to ensure that there is a high level of perceived and real benefits provided to all of the participants.  This is where a robust continuous improvement framework will provide the greatest level of support.  After all, the process of maintaining and improving both the community and the resulting outcomes from both the community and the participant perspective is a process of trial and error improvements that is simply a continuous improvement process that requires the framework to ensure continued success.  The challenge in this particular incarnation of the continuous improvement cycle is the participation and suggestions of the consumer members of the community must be analyzed and determined using a ‘sense and respond’ process, which is essentially another type of continuous improvement exercise.

Reacting to the changes in the consumer community that are demanded from all directions can sometimes feel like an overwhelming task due to the rate and types of changes.  There are changes in technology, procedures, features and functionality, architecture and framework that are all sometimes coming together at the same time due to the nature of the community, the participants and the technology.  This reactionary environment requires an extremely flexible response procedure that embraces the change rather than ignore or fight the change.  This is where the sense and respond process fits in and provides a method and practice that supports the volume and frequency of change, I think of sense and respond as a type of agile continuous improvement.  

The consumer community build on the open cloud technologies that directly interacts with the consumer cannot afford to wait on long lead times or even medium term lead times to deliver new content and services.  This is where the sense and respond process will really shine and support the speed at which you will be required to deliver.  This also supports and even institutionalizes flexibility in the community and the interaction with your external partners to allow the benefits to be achieved more quickly, which will make everyone happy and encourage the continued support of the community and the efforts.

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?