Another one of TFoC’s research tidbits, not to be missed: a survey of developer communities. It studies lots of variables, from who’s paying (it seems most of them are in fact “customer communities” again) to the hardest issues (participation and finding “the right resources” as moderators). Makes for interesting reading, if only to see that the same problems crop up everywhere.
They also find that “they belong to marketing”. The majority of those communities report to Marketing. This should not surprise anybody, for two reasons:
- Who’s paying? The study itself shows that most CoPs don’t trouble themselves with ROI metrics. Only one part of the organization can do that and not be fired: Marketing.
- Developer communities are a business development tool for software firms. They’re an induction and training channel. They’re a prime sales tool. They aim to further developers’ knowledge of the firm’s products, and to solve developers’ problems, not for the goodness of the firm’s heart, but because that helps sales. In other words, they belong to (Sales &) Marketing.
TFoC people seem to think they should belong in Engineering. Not so. That would only make sense if they were internal developer communities. And then, they’d have to fight it out with Human Resources.
But that is not the whole story. Customer communities should be funded by Marketing as the best sales tool around. But they should not be run by Marketing, or they will become corrupted by the need to guard the firm’s image (cover up problems in the face of customers). They should be run by the Customer Support department, as a cheap first line of service.
It works. Got my own numbers to prove it :-D.