Discovery/Feedback Communities, Open Source, and SugarCRM

Obviously, we here at SugarCRM are very community minded. The general community around SugarCRM’s Community Edition is growing every day – and is nearing the 100,000 member mark. Amazing.

But I still hear questions about the value of community in other industries, not just open source software. Fortunately, the value of community building is becoming clear to all types of B2B and B2C organizations.

Denis Pombriant breaks communities down in to two distinct categories in this article – namely, Feedback and Discovery communities. And I think it makes a lot of sense in the general sales and marketing world.

But I would go farther and use SugarCRM as an example of feedback and discovery community blending.

While many often ask “what economic value does the Sugar community play in the greater scheme of things?” the answer lies both in the discovery and feedback realm. And Sugar is lucky enough to have one community handling both facets.

On the feedback side, the Sugar community takes our Community Edition and battle tests it to the Nth degree during exhaustive beta testing. The user forums are a great way for our engineering team to learn, before a release is generally available, what is or is not working well. Bugs are tracked early, and what results is a rock solid release that has already gone through myriad iterations of a feedback loop. And this process doesn’t simply stop when the beta cycle stops. Open communities mean that our users can always provide feedback.

The discovery process is similar, but offers another benefit. The user forums, and the various events we put on such as CRM Acceleration and SugarCon (look for info on that to the right, cough cough shameless plug cough cough…), allow SugarCRM to be in a constant dialog with the user community. The forums especially provide a platform for users to say “we want this feature” or “this feature should work more like this…”

More and more software providers are embracing the forums concept…and that is a good thing. By fostering this dual-community approach, companies are able to provide not only a superior product, but also give their customers the feeling that they matter when it comes to product direction and company culture…