GetSatisfaction: the Controversy Cannot Hide the Facts

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If you follow the news you know that GetSatisfaction was acquired by Sprinklr last week (link to press coverage).

Almost immediately the press and analysts went into congratulatory overdrive on a great step for both of them. Slowly trickled out, and why I try to wait for a few days before publishing reviews, were the not-so-happy postings on the transaction – including this piece on Business Insider today (grain of salt: its business insider – the yellow press of business journalism) where one of the founders complain.

It is not, as you likely know by now, my place to take sides on fights that don’t involve me. Ask my daughters – broken bones (sticking out) and blood are the only two reasons I get involved (thankfully never got to that). Let the parties figure out the reasons for the fight and better yet – the reasons not to.

There are two issues though, that bear analyzing:

1.     the role of communities in marketplaces and workplaces

2.     the proper way to fund and support a startup

I’ll make it easy – I cannot contribute something worthwhile to the second one in a blog post; it is a very customized-personalized thing that changes from one to the next and whoever says different is just selling you a — well, their services.

I will gladly contribute to the first one – because I’ve been saying this for far longer than I remember: Michael Maoz (of Gartner fame and a good friend and former colleague while I was there) and I talked about this in 2002-2004 and then had to give it up since no one cared.

I wrote plenty about it before, including a difference between the many ways communities are shaping up to be. Still, no one cared.

Now, y’all do. Sort of – at least starting to.

Communities are (should’ve been) the only reason we started social networks and why social matters to organizations. And they are the (renewable) power source for business transformation going forward. Communities is something you, Mr/s. business person, should care about deeply – and yet, more than 85% of “youz” don’t.

I don’t have sufficient visibility into the dealings behind the acquisition, but I can tell you one thing: this is not the last. If you look at the “communities providers” vendors they are all in the same: working through the resistance of 85% of the market that doesn’t get what communities are and what they do – and using the other 15% to propel them forward.

We will see more acquisitions like this very soon, in the next few months. We will see more vendors with great technologies being folded into more complete social and even CRM suites. We will see more dreams shattered (likely) and some realized. We will see the beginning of the rise of communities to become mainstream (rule of thumb: 30% adoption in the marketplace) and to realize their potential.

One more thing: I am not talking about community managers and purposefully built communities. That’s training wheels stuff when it comes to communities.

I am talking about the model that GetSatisfaction embraced and was unable to sustain in the market: ad-hoc, open, freely mouldable and shapeable communities where people come to share power and knowledge – and no one controls or brands.

If you are interested in forums and structured communities you still don’t get the concept of communities for business. This is not your grandpa communities – that was just more “training wheels” stuff. This is about providing an infrastructure and let interested parties build and power communities. Very different model than what you are thinking (and I know this because I talked to many of “you” every week).

What do you think? (comments below, use them)

Image via flickr

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