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The power of tech communities to drive business growth

by maria

By Bob Davis, CMO at Plutora

Building up a new market sub-sector doesn’t just happen by osmosis. The development of this new tech territory needs to be carefully seeded, then offered out to a wider community of stakeholders in the company’s ecosystem, as well as industry participants, to bring it to maturity and success.

For an organisation starting out in this way, community support is intrinsically linked to its success and evolution. We’re talking an endless network of vendors, service partners, academics, professional advocates, developers, and users. Even the healthy input of competitors can help to garner support and discussion to promote the need for this new offering.

While the groundwork for market generation is innovation and first-to-market advantages, these alone can’t create the scale the market needs. To become an industry that develops real authenticity, this requires proactive support of technology experts and enthusiasts who can educate, certify for skills, and standardise the industry. Without this, any new tech segment could risk being stranded and siloed from industry context, and not fulfil its potential.

This process of scaling the business doesn’t happen overnight. Rather it’s a long-term industry education as the tech solution emerges from an idea to widespread industry acceptance. Many factors can influence a positive reception within the industry, however solid and consistent community backing by like-minded enthusiasts and evangelists is vital to maintain an upwards trajectory. Many successful tech businesses will validate the positive return that this engaged expert group provides, not only in promoting the product but giving invaluable feedback and discussion to build the market needs and understanding.

If a company wants an innovative idea or its new market niche to become accepted in the tech industry, community is vital. When working effectively, this community is powerful in evolving the business’ proposition through their deep expertise, mutual support, and passion for technology.

Building the community takes commitment

Occasionally, tech businesses experience the good fortune to grow more spontaneously, led by engaged followers and advocates. In most cases, however, building an effective community is not just about creating an innovative piece of technology; the business must be willing to be open and engage with the industry and to accept constructive criticism, as much as praise.

Some organisations are ambitious enough to create a completely new industry category. For them, it’s not just about the product, but about market leading vision and shaking up the market.

Why community matters

Communities couldn’t matter more for start-ups, who lack the big budgets of their larger peers, and crave the support from all industry sources to raise the profile of their missions. A positive and engaged community can project the new idea into the limelight and put the company firmly on the map.

We know that many successful tech brands are almost as famous for their supportive communities, the likes of Microsoft, Apple and Intel. It’s the committed championing by their trusted followers which has been the making of these businesses.

The Value Stream Management community

One emerging category of the software industry, Value Stream Management (VSM), has an emerging community of dedicated followers. VSM is responsible for optimising the software delivery lifecycle, to take an idea into real world production; much needed to get products and services in front of customers.

For its users, VSM solves some major challenges of increasingly complex software delivery processes. It helps teams to develop high quality software more rapidly, while minimising risk. This speaks directly to a key business objective that is often overlooked during software development – to maximise customer impact and value. This end-to-end visibility and control over their value streams is delivered for organisations that adopt VSM.

VSM may still be in its infancy within the software industry, but is fast becoming a key category in its own right. And this success is largely attributable to its community.

In fact, community initiatives, such as the Value Stream Management Consortium have played a huge role in the increasing recognition of VSM as a distinct market segment. This non-profit organisation was founded in aid of improving software-centric performance and customer value, built on VSM.

A variety of VSM companies and stakeholders contribute to the consortium. Investing for their combined gain, they build an educational and supportive ecosystem which will evidence the market need and drive the growth of VSM. Through producing research reports like this year’s ‘The State of Value Stream Management’, the community offers invaluable industry insight and deployment advice for software development teams. Beyond this, the community engages members worldwide for training and certifications and to position VSM as a best-practice approach for software development.

The intrinsic value of communities in the development of tech businesses cannot be underestimated. A community comprised of supporters and contributors at all ends of the spectrum, even – in the case of VSM – competitors, can drive business forward. This means it can supercharge product adoption and have a major impact on product strategy, innovation, and long-term success. Reaching out, collaborating, and engaging with stakeholders is a must to grow a tech business, and taking this audience with you on your business journey will create a strong foundation for business success.

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