James Governor's Monkchips

Community Managers Rule: Lotus GM Gets it

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I am not entirely clear on the provenance of these predictions from Lotus general manager Alistair Rennie, but they’re good enough to deserve a riff – particularly the last.

3. Community Managers Rule
“Just like the Internet opened up a world of new opportunities, the rise of social business is creating new jobs. With the adoption of these new internal and external social business tools comes the increasing need for staff to manage the new processes and communities, to measure their effectiveness, and to educate and enable the workforce to participate. Corporations are quickly realizing they must create new roles like the community manager to take on these new responsibilities. Watch for this role to take off in 2012, with organizations of all shapes and sizes, in a variety of industries calling on experts to help to build, maintain, and activate members in an online location around common interests and topics. Key skills required: Ability to be transparent, drive sharing among members, and listening and shaping conversations.”

While the likes of Jeremiah Owyang have been writing about the importance of good community managers for a long time, hearing it from an IBM GM is different. Too many technologists take a reductionist stance, confusing social media platforms with social business, but Rennie clearly doesn’t. The lesson is that you need to invest in people in order to succeed. Product is never enough.

Rennie also shows he understands that community managers in many respects don’t manage, rather influence. They manage all of the things that allow for a rich, engaged conversation, driving action, to take place.

It will be interesting to see how and if Rennie puts his money where his mouth is, in terms of hiring. Can we expect Lotus to hire some external community management talent? I would expect so. Another question is whether Community Manager is a category that might be amenable to a certification of some kind. It would need to be product independent in order to be useful, but I can see IBM attempt to capture some of the category, as it has in cloud.

RedMonk is particularly interested in the developer community manager role, which I believe will also become more important, and more formalised over the next couple of years. Perhaps one for my own 2012 predictions.

disclosure: Lotus is a client.

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