In my experience the success of all initiatives depends heavily on the development, implementation and a follow-up of continuous review and improvement of process.  This is especially evident and important in a collaborative environment such as a consumer community that integrates with your extended network partners.  This is not only important to the success, it is also one of the most difficult activities to develop and implement a successful process.  The process requires clear steps and activities that are embraced by all participants and members of this community, this is also one of the most difficult aspects of implementing the process.

The consumer community process must support the collection, analysis and change and validation process supporting the community.  This is a very volatile community that is being pushed and pulled by both consumers and the technologies embraced by the consumers.  It is important to maintain a process that evaluates and integrates modifications on a very short cycle in order to both maintain currency in technology but most importantly to maintain the interest of the consumer.  Consumers can be incredibly fickle and consumers’ acceptance and embrace of technology is even more fickle.  Your process must walk the line of coordinating analysis and implementation in a cycle that is much shorter than previous cycles.

Your extended partner network is the next piece of the equation that requires a robust and flexible process to support collaboration of your partner network along with the integration to the consumer community.  While this particular process is quite different than the process supporting your consumer community, it does have a level of complexity related to the integration and collaboration of your external partners that you must take into account.  Any time that you must integrate a network that is not controlled by one organization the level of complexity increases.  In the case though of the extended partner network the integration and collaboration requirements and objectives are more easily implemented because the value proposition provides the weight of return on investment that will focus the efforts. 

The processes you put into place will provide the guidance and procedures to follow to support the sense and respond improvement cycles in addition to the procedures to follow to support and ensure collaboration practices are taken into consideration and followed in these processes.  The process provides the guiderails and the steps to ensure all requirements are taken into consideration in your dealings and support of the networks and communities.  Lets face it, it is just too easy to forget, or take shortcuts when you try to follow procedures from memory.  The process is put into place to ensure that your follow the same steps each time and the process also encourages you to achieve maximum value in your activities.

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?