Sense and respond should be viewed as a type of guidance system that provides a means to quickly identify, analyze and react to changes in your community in a thoughtful and speedy manner.  The consumer community technical architecture and framework, along with the participating members demand a very fluid and flexible environment that responds quickly to the changing capabilities and demands of the members.  In fact, your community will surely wither and die if you cannot meet the changing demands of the community members. 

There are two factors driving this requirement of flexibility and response; first is the consumer members and the second is the cloud technology and services that your are utilizing to support the community.  The consumer community members are a tech savvy group that embrace technology and jump into new technologies and services in the leading wave.  The cloud technology and services used to support the community are themselves very fluid and flexible and this in itself demands and drives similar flexibility into any community based on these services.  Think about it; how many new apps and services do you see on a daily basis offered on your smartphone?  Then think about the consumer reaction and incorporation of these new apps.  This is what is driving the types and speed of change in your collaboration community.

This is where the sense and respond continuous improvement process and practice comes into play to support your needs.  Sense and respond requires a defined review and decision making process to ensure that actions are executed in a thoughtful manner and not a reactionary haphazard manner.  This process provides guidance and a set of rules to follow to ensure that the action is will provide a positive impact.  Thoughtful does not mean slow, thoughtful in the case of a sense and respond process simply means that you have evaluated options before making a decision.  In the case of the consumer community, or any initiative really, that utilizes leading edge and volatile technology it is important to incorporate a process that can be quickly executed to come to a decision quickly.

The beauty of this type of environment, where the technology and the demands are volatile, is that the impact of the decisions are relatively short term and you can expect change or revisions would be highly likely to be required regularly.  This does not mean that you should make reckless decisions though, this does mean though that you must make good decisions quickly.  The change or improvement resulting from the decision should be monitored and you must be prepared to evaluate and adjust the change quickly.  This is all supported through the sense and respond continuous improvement process.

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?