Engaging stakeholders, 2010 style
It’s been a year since EMC launched the online EMC Community Network (ECN) to engage customers and partners with new collaboration models, resources, and support.
Since then, customers and partners have used ECN to express their needs and unite with EMCers and each other. They even use it to gain access to pre-release products.
The site is an Internet social network—an evolving constellation of online communities linking stakeholders who have common interests in collaborating and innovating. As of January 2010, more than 78,000 people have registered as members, which Susan Shapiro, Sr. Marketing Manager, characterizes as “a groundswell of support from customers and partners.”
In fact, customers and partners (including third-party software developers) comprise 84% of ECN’s members. Employees make up the balance. Everyone interacts in 40 (and counting) communities and labs.
“The communities transform how EMC connects with its customers,” Susan says. “ECN even helps our partners and customers communicate.” For instance, a partner might see an ECN thread in which end-users are telling each other about the technology issues keeping them up at night. That partner might adapt its offerings to the pain points and post a reply on the thread describing its best practices. Susan says, “Think about it: An e-mail is one-to-one. With these communities, we reach thousands of members via real- time, responsive information sharing.”
A new role in product development
ECN is enhancing the development of products such as Atmos Online cloud computing services.
“This is a ‘different’ offering, and ECN gave us a new development model,” says Leo Leung, product manager for Atmos Online. “We made our technical documentation and APIs [application programming interfaces] available on ECN’s Atmos Online Developer community, and right away, we started getting feedback about what was good and what needed improvement.”
The technical documentation has since been downloaded more than 1,000 times, greatly widening the base of Atmos Online developers pre-launch.
It’s about empowerment
ECN Sr. Director Randy Ziegler says the network is all about helping people succeed. “Bringing EMC stakeholders together to solve problems, share perspectives, co-innovate, and connect: That is empowering to all involved. And it is one reason that ECN is so successful.”
In a January 2010 entry on his popular blog, Chuck Hollis, EMC VP and Global Marketing CTO, wrote, “Whether it’s [used for] evaluating new technology at the ECN Labs or for conversing with other career professionals at the EMC Proven Professional community, this marketing investment continues to pay for itself many times over, simply because it’s focused on what our community members want, rather than on our own proprietary interests.”
Customers describe the value they receive
“I use the ControlCenter community to tap my peers for troubleshooting techniques and ideas on how to use that product more effectively. Often, somebody out there knows something I don’t.” —Victor Vargas, Sungard
“I look forward to getting online and meeting other EMC Proven Professionals, finding out more about future certifications, and getting tips from people like me in the community.” —Andrew Moffat, USPS