In today’s globally competitive marketplace, organizations must be more forward thinking than ever to anticipate what’s next, so they can plan for the future instead of reacting to the present. There are a variety of viewpoints on where organizations should focus their efforts and resources now to be recognized as a leader in the industry.

But one focus that’s quickly becoming a recognized competitive advantage for businesses is the importance of Community. In a new book published by Harvard Business Review, called The Hidden Wealth of Customers: Realizing the Untapped Value of Your Most Important Asset, author Bill Lee describes the science behind this evolution of thinking.

A company’s community is born when it first interacts with the industry to which it belongs – when it starts to garner interest from potential and existing customers, analysts, the press, enthusiasts, and even nay-sayers. The key is to nurture this organically formed community so that it continues to grow into a thriving entity, separate from the organization, but supported and appreciated by that organization.

Why is the health of a company’s community so important? One reason that is top-of-mind is the tendency of industry enthusiasts and experts to know what is most valued, and what is missing or inadequate in a company’s product portfolio, and this is priceless information for an organization that’s striving to stay ahead of the game.

Another reason why the community is important to businesses is that both enterprises and consumers today rely on customer feedback, for example, before they adopt a cloud computing strategy or buy the latest gadget on Amazon.com.

Lee’s book delves into these concepts and provides realistic theories and real examples. Over the past four years, I’ve experienced and validated many of these concepts firsthand working closely with the amazing thought leaders, technical experts and other key influencers who make up the Virtualization and Cloud Community.

In fact, in several chapters, this book identifies the work that Citrix and other leading companies have done to engage and grow their community, and describes the results, such as:

  • “Citrix developed one of the highest selling apps in the apple App Store by engaging its customer base…”
  • “These steps quickly earned Citrix a significant presence in a rapidly expanding mobility market…”
  • “Citrix communities are developing disruptive innovations that show the potential for supplanting entranced competition…”

One of my favorite quotes, in a chapter entitled “Unleashing a Hidden Rockstar,” illustrates the fundamental concept behind community engagement for mutual benefit, that has been a guiding principle for me personally in developing and maintaining the open and direct, group-oriented, product and support-focused environment of the Citrix Technology Professional (CTP) Program:

“It’s about working with a customer who’s passionate about the products and services you provide in order to tell the story of the great things she’s doing, with your help, to improve her business.”

The chapter title is also relevant, because we consider the CTPs the “Rockstars of the Virtualization and Cloud Industry!”

This book is a great read for anyone who recognizes or is open to learning the value of fostering a community, and ready to interact with their own community altruistically, to provide thought-leadership and education, and engage in true collaboration.

Bill Lee’s book is available here on Amazon.com. …and remember to check out the customer reviews before you buy it.  :)

Laura Whalen
Citrix Systems, Inc.
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