Company background: At Anaplan, we enable decisive action in dynamic conditions, turning complexity into clarity and alignment, and turning change into advantage.
Contact: Aaron White
Title: Groups Program Manager, Community
Related URLs: https://community.anaplan.com
Kudos Category: Best-in-Class: Community
1. Describe your community(s) and how you decided to start a community or grow/change it in the last year? (user request, Khoros suggestion, internal idea, etc.) What is the purpose of your community?
The Anaplan Community exists to support, inspire, and connect Anaplan’s ecosystem of model builders and end users. While the Community has existed in some state since 2013, we measure everything off our re-launch on Khoros (then Lithium) in March 2017.
As a SaaS company offering a versatile and agile business planning platform, Anaplan’s Community helps its members go further, faster with Anaplan. Anaplan is too robust a tool for company communications and internal representatives to comprehensively or successfully address all possible use cases and solutions. Fully embracing and taking advantage of the platform’s capabilities requires niche conversations with others using it in highly customized ways. It requires a Community!
As such, the Anaplan Community is a differentiator for Anaplan not simply because it exists, but because of how it is used, every day, by our members to ensure greater business growth and success. Through in-depth content, robust programs, award-winning event experiences, and diverse opportunities for interaction, the Anaplan Community showcases the art of the possible as presented by its most passionate and experienced users and advocates.
Beyond that, Anaplan’s vision for the Community is not simply as a space for existing customers. By design, the Community is open and transparent. We don’t gate content. We don’t solicit members or use their information for lead or demand generation. We don’t require a business email address or a customer account to join. Instead, we believe that the Anaplan ecosystem grows and the message of Anaplan spreads when everyone has full access to inspiration, education, and support. When members (or even non-members) see what Anaplan has to offer—as a platform, as a company, and as a Community—it impacts our business through influence on potential sales and expands.
2. Tell us about how you made it happen? Did you stage it first? Who got an early look? How did you drive adoption? Did you get executive buy-in? Did you have any key iterations?
Our Community is always evolving and growing. We treat Community much like a product, so we work with all of our internal and external stakeholders as we look to change and grow.
Our Community team actually sits outside the rest of the organization, reporting up through our Chief Planning Officer, which gives us high levels of executive visibility and support. Instead of existing in and/or supporting a specific department, we support the entire organization through dozens of different programs using a relatively lean tech stack (documented below in what we lovingly refer to as our “Community Robot”). This is why having extremely flexible platforms (like Khoros) is key, as we are constantly going into multiple directions at the same time.
Today, we have 13 team members, split broadly across three main focus areas: Content, Experience/Events, and Technology.
In the last year, we completed an overhaul of the Community site-wide to (among other things) adopt our new corporate branding, deploy a global navigation across our ecosystem, and modernize the visual experience. We launched multiple new sections to support programs throughout the organization (some of which are outlined below). Our technical mad scientists continue to push out dozens of fixes and improvements each month, documented for internal eyes in a monthly release notes blog post.
Out with the old…
...in with the new!
3. What were the results? Tell us how it impacted your customer experience or the outcomes you seek as a business. Please include metrics if possible.
The results have been growth in every meaningful way. Especially during the pandemic, where we have leaned fully into virtual and online experiences as a means for connecting our members, we have seen growth across the board.
In the last year, for the first time ever, we made available free 90-day trials of the Anaplan platform to non-customers. Paired with the on-demand training resources available in the Community, this offering allowed development of an in-demand skillset (Anaplan Model Builder) for everyone from potential customers to displaced workers seeking new opportunities.
In the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, we came alongside this latter group, not only offering platform access and training, but streamlined job hunting through an Available Talent board (using Khoros' Group Hubs feature) and a Career Search list—an API-powered job board that scours the internet for the latest postings seeking skilled Anaplanners. Since launching less than a year ago, more than 2,000 individuals have passed through the Anaplan Access and Anaplan Talent Builder programs with more than 1100 completions of related platform trainings.
After relaunching using the Group Hubs feature in early 2020, our Groups program later rebranded from User Groups to Anaplan Groups in order to be more inclusive of all Groups within the Community. In light of the pandemic, we are no longer focusing on region-specific Groups only, but now on several other types of Group, including Industry & Interest, Education, Program, and Platform. Through these changes, our Groups program membership has grown by 230% (now over 4700 members) and our number of Groups has doubled from 41 a year ago to 80+ today.
We joke that we were doing virtual events before they were cool, but it’s true. Even before the pandemic hit, Anaplan Live! (formerly User Groups Live!) was an established virtual event brand for our Community members, with 5 fully-virtual half-day events already completed between March 2019 and March 2020. In the last year, we have now completed a sixth full Anaplan Live! event, plus four smaller Anaplan Live! Spotlight events.
Additionally, with our team’s experience in successful virtual events, we provided support to our larger Marketing Events team for Anaplan’s annual (and newly virtual) DigitalCPX conference, producing more than 50% of the content, facilitating the livestream, and hosting two full days of back-to-back virtual Groups meetups for Community members as part of the event. In June 2021, Anaplan Live! and DigitalCPX are joining forces for a combined virtual event, with the Community once again producing and delivering the vast majority of the content.
All of this is on top of the 80+ virtual events hosted by the Anaplan Groups program and our amazing volunteer Group Leaders, many of whom stepped up to help for the first time in the last year. Our registration-to-attendee conversion is about 60%—well above current industry averages.
We have added four people to our team: an Associate Technology Manager, a dedicated Engineer, a Community Coordinator, and an Events Program Manager.
We supported a major customer in hosting their own multi-day internal virtual event for thousands of employees, specifically to help them better use the Anaplan platform.
Launched customer case portal, integrated with single sign-on (Okta) and Anaplan, automating the account creation process anytime a user opens a Support ticket.
Khoros functionality improvements deployed include Beta/trial of Events, TKB/Blog workflow improvements, Slack integration, updates to API-driven integrated Bevy components, content syndication for discussions, message feed/article feed capabilities, site-wide taxonomy improvements, and performance/load time improvements on large nodes.
Gamification improvements to enhance Khoros' native badging, including automation of badges from different platforms, UI enhancements, and an improved leaderboard.
Improved the usage and capabilities of Community accounts, making them the single source of truth for all connected experiences (Support, Academy, and Events) and laying the groundwork for personalization and gamification enhancements later this year.
The Community team led Anaplan’s Women’s History Month video initiatives organization-wide and supported Anaplan’s renewed DEI efforts with blogs on Diversity in Tech, civil rights, and International Women’s Day.
Our CEO highlighted some of our work this year on a call with the NYSE
(https://twitter.com/NYSE/status/1288118904259096582 ) as well as on our public Q1 earnings call
(https://seekingalpha.com/article/4350118-anaplan-inc-plan-ceo-frank-calderoni-on-q1-2021-results-ear...) (July 2020).
Our Community Technology Manager, Stan Gromer, was one of only six inaugural Khoros Legendary Titans (February 2021).
In the last year, the Anaplan Community has been recognized throughout the Community industry as a leader:
2021 CMX Top 3 Finalist: Support and Customer Success Community
2020 Khoros Kudos Award - First place: Top Line Growth All Star
2020 Khoros Kudos Award - Runner Up: All Ways Connected
2020 Khoros Kudos Award - Runner Up: Bottom Line Savings Rock Star
2020 Feverbee Best Online Communities: Top 10 Best Designed Community
2020 Trust Radius Tech Cares Award: Tech Cares Award - Anaplan Helps
Khoros Communities Blog post: Community Experience Upgrade: Out of the Box with Project Hermes (March 16, 2021). Mentioned as one of “the most respected and successful brand communities in the world” alongside Airbnb, Google, Microsoft, eBay, Fitbit, Cisco, Sephora, and Alteryx.
Khoros Communities Blog post: New Community Features - Autumn Launch Overview (November 10, 2020). Recognized for our “very successful events program” alongside Fitbit, Splunk, Atlassian, Cisco, Qlik, and Microsoft.
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