Everyone is looking for community. And nobody knows quite what it is. From software vendors to traditional print publishers, the talk is about building community to produce an environment that binds customers and users to the vendor and the vendor’s products more tightly. Who has the most powerful glue?
Microsoft, by virtue of being Microsoft, has a chance to create community platforms within its user bases by enabling its customers to link together from within its products—in this case involving the mid-market Dynamics accounting software.
Among the first communities to be constructed is the financial professional community, which can be accessed from within Dynamics GP, an ability that is going to be extended to the next editions of Dynamics NAV and SL.
According to Craig Dewar, director of community marketing, 700 users signed up during the Convergence user conference earlier this month, and with the average addition of 40 users per day, the financial professional community had reached a membership of 3,000.
The company is also developing content relationships, recently reaching an agreement with Thomson Tax & Accounting, CFO.com and the Partner Channel, the latter of which provides marketing services to Dynamics GP resellers.
Basically, one of the mantras of marketing and selling has been the more places a vendor can touch its customers, the less likely they will be to switch to a competitor, and the more likely they will be to buy more products.
Beyond that, community building represents a hybridizing of vendors. From operating as a software publisher, Microsoft, and other vendors that follow this model, are operating as content publishers, as members of what has been known as the media.
If a user can satisfy business software needs in one place, perhaps that same user can satisfy business information needs in the same place.
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