The gathering points for any enterprise social platform are the spaces or communities. These are the containers that are created for users to find and share the information they care about and collaborate with people who have like roles, interests, etc. Ever since we launched a social platform a few years ago, now known as IWE (Integrated Workforce Experience) powered by Cisco Quad, a hurdle for IT has been wide user adoption. Our challenge hasn’t been due to a lack of stakeholder demand for new communities but the speed at which IT can provision communities to keep up with the insatiable demand.
We have made incremental improvements to the community provisioning process. Initially, the governance and provisioning was a manual process controlled solely by IT. While IWE administrators worked as fast as they could to prioritize the community requests and work with stakeholders to set up and onboard their communities, IT could provision only about 25 communities a month. In the meantime, the interest from organizations around the company in creating their own communities swelled as the platform proliferated within Cisco.
About a year ago, we shortened the provisioning cycle with an intranet-based tool developed by engineering. The Community Request Tool allows stakeholders outside of IT to initiate community requests and assists IWE administrators in evaluating those requests. With this tool, the number of communities IT can provision jumped from 25 a month to 25 a week. But even this 400 percent improvement in the process isn’t enough for a large enterprise to keep pace with growing stakeholder demand for new communities.
Today my group, Communication and Collaboration IT, is working closely with teams from Collaboration Business Technologies and the Enterprise Collaboration Platform Business Unit to develop a community approval management system native to Quad, which we call “click-to-create communities.” This automated system will enable any user in Quad to request and create new communities, with instantaneous provisioning of many communities depending on workflow rules. In this new process, users will enter details about their community and choose a design template relevant to their community type (private or public, for example). Requests will be sent to the approval management system where they are prioritized and evaluated based on workflow rules. Requests will be either auto approved and automatically provisioned or queued up for vetting by a designated approver if the request doesn’t meet auto approval criteria.
When a request is submitted, the community will be provisioned in draft mode (in a staging area) pending approval. In draft mode, communities are available only to the requesters and, if approved, the requesters can make the community live at their discretion. If a request is declined, the community will move to a draft mode denied state, disabling it from going live.
Of course, we can’t open the community creation floodgates without solid governance in place for managing the lifecycle of all those new communities. Approval management and lifecycle management are key components for monitoring and sustaining the health of a community ecosystem, and we’re working on both.
We’re excited about trying out the new click-to-create community functionality. Moving from a largely manual approval process by committee, using disparate tools, to an automated system native to Quad will untether IT’s ability to provision communities and promote wide user adoption. The volume of approvals and speed at which new communities are created will be unlimited.