Many businesses ask whether there is value to building or participating in communities. But this is, in my view, fundamentally the wrong question. After all, the communities are already in existence – people of like minds, with common interests, fascinations or even passions gravitate towards each other. They find a sense of purpose. And they talk about you, your business and your brands whether you want them to or not.

Now, I don’t want to flippantly claim that return on investment is unnecessary – but I do want you to consider HOW you view your business ecosystem. And rather than calculating the return on investment that you want to make, try to determine the COST of irrelevance.

Online communities, if well considered, managed and supported can transform many business processes. And because they are fundamentally human, they unleash creativity and innovation in unpredictable ways. But, really, we know this already – we have been tapping into our personal networks for years (for sales, leads, new jobs etc) – the real opportunities come with the scale that comes from digitising these networks.

But don’t take my word for it. Listen to the participants of a vibrant community. This short video on SAP’s Business Process Expert community demonstrates the diversity, value and robust nature of communities. Wouldn’t you just love to have people speaking about your brand in the same way?