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Social Community Investment and ROI Often a Negotiation
Give and Take: A Balance Between Performance and Profits

Originally published October 20, 2011

Psion makes ruggedized handheld or vehicle-mounted computer devices for heavy duty applications within airports (luggage handling), supply chain logistics (shipping and inventory management), and postal and warehouse management. Operating globally in North America, South America, Asia, and Europe, Psion has approximately 300 partners who develop solutions based on Psion devices. The company’s aim was to foster an open source style of development based upon collaboration between partners to meet as many of the diverse needs of different industries and use cases as possible.

Challenge

In 2001 through 2006, the company lost market share to competitors and had some key partners pull out of projects. In 2008, the new CEO implemented a new corporate strategy based on the modularity of products and open collaboration between partners and customers.

Senior leadership felt the company was perceived as a follower in the market rather than a technology leader or a strong brand. The company recognized the difficulty in getting partners who are located literally around the world to collaborate with each other and turned to social media for a potential solution.

Psion also wanted to gather intelligence on its customer base, gain insight into the public perception of Psion products and understand why some sold well in some markets, while in others the products were less successful.

Technology Requirements

Besides working to revamp operational processes and business policies, the company also began to pursue social media as a method of creating community and monitoring the sentiment of customers. Psion wanted monitoring and analysis tools to track customer sentiment and behavior on public forums, such as Twitter and Facebook, as well as on its own website forums.

The company also wanted a social media platform that had a strong community component to create a registration-only area for partners and customers to talk and have access to technical data in the engineering knowledgebase. Employees also were included in the community, to enable them to comment and offer help as needed.  A Galaxy-ranked vendor in Hypatia’s 2011 primary research study, “Benchmarking Social Community Investment & ROI: Best Practices & Vendor Galaxy Rankings,” met all of Psion’s requirements as well as the potential to support future growth.

Operational Approach

Psion's Ingenuity Working community launched in March 2010 and since then it's grown to 12,350 registered members, more than 50,000 visitors per month and 2.5 million page views.

The goal, says Psion’s digital strategy manager Lee Hunt, is to create a collaborative community that openly addresses issues, whether it’s features that a customer wants added or sharing information about existing products that address a specific need.  

The company also keeps tabs on what issues its customers are posting, tweeting or blogging about and whether the tone of conversations is negative or positive.

The analysis tools also enable Psion to spot trends in online conversations. According to Hunt, Psion “monitors sentiment, topics people are talking about and the countries that they are in. We look for trends; this helps us to plan for the future.”

Psion is also using the community to facilitate field trials with prototype products. Customers and partners communicate together in a secured area of the community and Psion gets feedback from them faster than they had been able to from a historical perspective.

Results

Today, IngenuityWorking.com gets more hits than the company's website, partners are actively collaborating and Psion outperformed its 2009 revenue and operating profit.

Hunt has seen several examples of partners sending each other business or product ideas and collaborating to provide custom solutions to Psion customers. Moreover, the savings in catching product issues before the product reaches the market is significant, he says. When a partner or customer flags a potential issue with a product in the online forum, Psion potentially saves tens of thousands of dollars, depending on whether it is caught in the design phase, production, or the first releases onto the market. The more products shipped, the more it costs to retrieve them, fix the flaw and re-ship to the customer.

Bottom-line: It easily costs ten times or more to fix or change something once it is out in the field than early on. Psion is on track to meeting its goal of less than 1% returns of products under warranty. 



For more information on vendor selection criteria, research products (such as Hypatia Research’s March 2011 study “Operationalizing Voice of the Customer: Maturity Models, Benchmarks & Best Practices", June 2011 study, “Benchmarking Social Community Investment & ROI: Best Practices & Vendor Galaxy Rankings”, October 2011 study, “Best Practices & Vendor Selection Criteria for Practitioners: Enterprise Governance, Risk & Compliance”) or scheduling an analyst briefing, contact: ZGR@HypatiaResearch.com or Research@HypatiaResearch.com.

  • Leslie AmentLeslie Ament

    Leslie Ament, Senior Vice President and Principal Analyst at Hypatia Research Group is a customer intelligence management thought-leader and industry analyst who focuses on the business value of technology in regards to how organizations capture, manage, analyze and apply actionable customer insight to improve customer management techniques, reduce operating expenses and to accelerate corporate growth. Her research and advisory services include: Customer Analytics & Interaction, Advanced Analytics, Business Intelligence and Big Data Analytics, Social Media Intelligence/Text Analytics, CRM, Digital Marketing Automation, Customer Data Management/Data Quality and Governance, Risk & Compliance.

    Editor's Note: More articles and resources are available in Leslie Ament's BeyeNETWORK Expert Channel on Customer Analytics & Insight. Be sure to visit today!

  • Sue HildrethSue Hildreth
    Sue is Senior Analyst and Research Editor for Hypatia Research, and she has been writing for the computer industry since 1986, starting as new products editor for Cahners Business Computer Systems magazine. Subsequent roles have included executive editor for ebizQ, an online publication covering e-business integration trends; staff editor for Computer Publishing Group's WebServer Online and Server/Workstation Expert magazines; and editor of Software Success, a business newsletter for software executives. Sue's work has appeared in numerous industry publications such as Computerworld, Processor, SearchSecurity.com, SearchCRM.com, SearchSMB.com InformIT.com and Dice.com. Her coverage areas encompass enterprise software trends and technologies with specific emphasis on CRM, mobile solutions, enterprise search, e-commerce and content management. She is co-author of Hypatia's "Benchmarking Social Community Investments & ROI: Best Practices & Vendor GalaxyTM Rankings," "Business Intelligence in the Healthcare Industries" and "What Healthcare Professionals Should Know About ARRA and Electronic Medical Records Selection.

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