At the recent successful e-commerce expo at Olympia in London there was a debate on Social Media ROI, which by all accounts was an interesting session. I was interested to read this blog on the debate and try to relate it to where Community Server, Harvest Reporting Server and Four Roads Commerce stand in terms of the current market place.
I don't think I need to rave about Community Server too much, it is well known to be the market leader in allowing companies to create vibrant communities that stand out from the crowd. But I do think I need to talk more about Harvest Reporting Server.
Harvest is one of the first in a new breed of reporting products allowing business to measure not only standard analytics but also the softer objectives that Alex Burmaster pointed out in the debate. At the recent in-Telligent conference, Harvet 2.0 was demonstrated with new features that start to analyse areas such as user profile and habits. So as a community owner you can identify how to best market to your users or reward users that are of a particular demographic. Harvest is reasonably priced for SMB's and its utility for improving ROI far out weighs Harvest's cost.
I'd also like to talk about our product in relation to this post. Four Roads Commerce is the first extension to Community Server allowing companies to fully integrate ecommerce into their social networking site. Commerce delivers much more than a simple ecommerce application. Sure, it does help you avoid spending the time and money used to integrate a third party ecommerce application into your community website and you do benefit from an administrative interface seamlessly integrated into the Community Server Control Panel. But the real value of Commerce is not that it is an ecommerce application… it's an scommerce application. Four Roads is taking the fluffy ideas discussed in these debates and turning them into tangible features that can be measured using Harvest and by the bottom line of your companies profits.
In conclusion I think that the combination of Community Server, Harvest and Commerce is an extremely compelling argument when next upgrading your company site. Changing your user base from customers to fans or evangelists is an extremely important process. On top of that, targeting users more accurately using Harvest and positioning products that are validated through the social network creates an environment that increases the sites potential ROI.