“How do I create a new marketing tool that really adds value to my enterprise, in a department other than sales or finance, but also make a tool that increases sales rapidly? First of all hire a marketing business analyst like me. I will look at how to improve your enterprise’s goals rapidly without spending too much money.
Market research for software applications is something we all come up against at some point. In this article I’m going to analyse a classic business issue. Do we build this from scratch? Or just buy one off the shelf. This project concerns the need for a discussion forum for Engineering Service Professionals, that is going to be used by to connect and interact with other service professionals or service engineers in a global network online via a forum enabled app. Members discussions will be tracked via a designated moderator who will have global access and admin rights.
Classic user or persona example. Someone who is a Service Engineer who wishes to become a group member, who can start a discussion about something like a simple technical question (deemed suitable for the forum). Then others can contribute including UK staff, plus staff from the other non UK offices. (If they have been accepted into the group). The moderators can decide who joins, and what level of membership is awarded. Members discussions will be tracked via a designated moderators who will have global access and admin rights.
This project is aimed at 50 service engineers to be included for the UK business and its approved subsidiaries network worldwide, so we are talking about a micro group here. (Where not much could be discussed for hours or even days at a time). Service engineers in the network are mainly mobile as they are paid to do external customer site service jobs. This means limited access to Desktop PCs. So, the solution should be app based for all platforms: Windows PC, Windows Mobile, iOS and Android devices.
Ease of use should be a key feature of this cloud software or it simply won’t get used. The ability to scoop data is a must or just the archive chats could also be considered, i.e. the export of engineer discussions into SharePoint archives.
1. To enable the transfer of knowledge about service subject matter within the global service network.
2. To be able to share the latest technical information at the speed of the internet.
3. Create a global service team alliance.
4. Can be easily monitored to prevent abuse of the system
5. Internet network coverage will be an issue for Service engineers.
6. This could become a Global App.
7. Service knowledge will assist all service departments offerings from this expanded knowledge base.
8. It will help with service team training.
There are many forum software apps or extensions like “JIVE”, “Social Squared” or “Phpbb”, which should be able to accommodate this type of thing. We may need an inclusive platform, that all offices can use, including China and Russia, where there maybe access issues with certain software applications in those countries.
However, before we get too excited, there is a mismatch of coding technology here, in that Microsoft is ASP. Most decent Forum Application set ups are in PHP. This requires some very clever integration.
SharePoint Cloud is brilliant for holding content that can be accessed on a permission graded basis, this can be done via links. However, SharePoint is a rigid platform we’ll find Microsoft stepping in to find ways to charge more and more money for the global Cloud Office 365 access to their system for everyone who wants to use the SharePoint app.
The app will need to be in many different guises as it will need to work on all devices within the global network. software updates will be required every 12 months. That’s before attempting to try to integrate a “Forum” like extension that looks and behaves like a social media platform, to work well within SharePoint while still remaining user friendly.
The SharePoint system should allow for a social media Facebook Application Programme Interface or API, like Whatsapp, or the discussion groups simply need to be in a LinkedIn closed group page for each office which then link up before or within the SharePoint.
LinkedIn Closed Groups, is owned by Microsoft they paid $26 billion for the brand, and it works in China presently. This can be set up as a low cost test environment, there must be an Application Programme Interface API between this and Sharepoint that works?
The service engineers can simply chat/post on Facebook within the closed group pages or workplaces. Then all this data ends up in SharePoint as chat histories. The service engineers can use it on their mobile phones when out, but if they need access to documents, then they’ll need to access the SharePoint when able, to access restricted links / downloads that sit within the SharePoint system.”