Company background: Esri is the global market leader in geographic information system (GIS) software, location intelligence, and mapping. Since 1969, we have supported customers with geographic science and geospatial analytics, what we call The Science of Where. We take a geographic approach to problem-solving, brought to life by modern GIS technology. We are committed to using science and technology to build a sustainable world.
Contact: Jesse Cloutier
Title: Community Manager, Engagement & Content
Related URLs: https://community.esri.com/
Kudos Category: Best-in-Class: Community
1. Describe the organization's objectives in launching a Khoros community. What is the use-case and purpose of your community (support, enablement and learning, marketing awareness, customer success, driving sales, product innovation, etc.)? Has the community charter evolved since its launch, and if so, how?
2022 Esri Community Highlights and Wins video
Organizational Objectives & Purpose for Esri Community
Esri Community’s purpose is no secret. It emblazons the banner of our home page:
"A global community of Esri users where you can find solutions, share ideas,
and collaborate to solve problems with GIS."
Professionals working in GIS (Geographic Information Systems) use powerful software to perform work ranging from tasks as fundamental as adding points on a map to far more advanced undertakings involving a high degree of complexity and business impact. And with over 300,000 worldwide organizations using Esri’s ArcGIS products, our community-driven purpose addresses the need for topical knowledge sharing and collaborative product support across Esri’s 140+ products.
Esri Community is much more than that, though. With 321,000 active user accounts by the end of 2022, the daily practice of collaboration provides key opportunities for Esri to engage with customers and partners to improve Esri products, decrease service costs for all parties, and to buoy Esri’s position as the worldwide leader in GIS technologies.
Our Community team’s efforts focus on meeting the following three business objectives:
Migrating to Khoros
Esri has a 30+ year history of hosting online community that culminated in a migration to Khoros from the JiveX platform in 2020. The move was prompted by shortcomings of the JiveX experience, an imminent sunset of the JiveX platform, and the necessity to shift to a new community platform that would enable Esri to address growing business needs and execute our strategic vision of community building with customers.
The search for a new platform commenced, guided in part by Esri’s need for a service partner capable of matching our pursuit of innovation with community technology. Because its core features and design aligned with Esri customers' needs and requirements, Khoros set itself apart from other candidates and delivered an exciting, progressive roadmap throughout our 2-year procurement process. Our selection committee became convinced that Khoros was the right partner for Esri.
Evolution of Esri Community’s Charter
With a Khoros go-live date in November 2020, our then Community team immediately went to work reversing engagement stagnation that had been setting in on JiveX. We also took the opportunity re-name the Community from GeoNet to Esri Community. This decision was made to better align the Community with a larger company-wide Esri rebranding and marketing campaign. As part of those initiatives, the name, look and feel, and design of Esri Community were successfully implemented. Along with the rebranding, the Community team set out to repair sentiment damaged during the deteriorated JiveX user experience and successfully used change management strategies to improve adoption and engagement. Additionally, at that point, we needed a new vision and to rebuild strategic business value for Esri Community among internal stakeholders.
“Congrats on the release! It feels way snappier than the old site and looks great.”
Now more than 2 years into hosting Esri Community via Khoros and ground has not only been drastically regained, but we’ve transitioned well into implementing a multi-faceted strategy that advances our objectives. As an organization, Esri has become more sophisticated in how online Community is leveraged across the company and within our customer experience. Khoros has been a key enabler in this process, empowering us to build a solid foundation as we enact a new 3-year vision: to build strategic Community, measure its impacts across our customer base, and take intentional, prioritized action based on data analysis and insights.
Moreover, a key part of our strategic future vision for Community includes:
We see the Khoros platform as a key enabler of this vision and execution.
2. How did the community get brought to life? Was there executive/business/stakeholder buy-in? What was the process to gain this buy-in? How was cross-functional support and organizational adoption achieved?
"With the Esri Community, we’re all in on supporting our users interconnecting, but also our various partners, and also the employees here at Esri—in sharing, learning from each other, and growing the impact of our collective work on the world’s big problems and challenges."
—Jack Dangermond, Esri’s Founder and President
Community as a concept—bringing people together to collaborate, share ideas, combine perspectives, and to support each other—has been part of Esri’s DNA since Jack Dangermond first started the company in 1969. That mentality permeates all corners of Esri and is unambiguously recognized as essential to the company’s success.
With community-centric behavior as a leading company value and decades of hosting online community via evolving technologies, Khoros’ position as a leading solution made our partnership a natural conclusion. Adoption among internal stakeholders who would integrate Esri Community in their workflows is where efforts were needed. We’ve achieved this through implementation of awareness and adoption strategies fine-tuned to our audiences, and by aligning the necessary resources to do so.
Growing the Esri Community Team
The Esri Community team grew with newly created roles designed to rapidly advance key strategic initiatives:
This team growth enabled a re-distribution of responsibilities among the incumbent team to prioritize key projects that include re-engagement with Esri product distributors, integrating Esri Community in staff onboarding, and member journey mapping.
Nurturing our MVP Member Program
Esri Community MVPs are a group of 52 elite members—just 0.02% of all active Esri Community accounts—who contribute a remarkably outsized impact. In 2022, MVPs supplied 22% of all 6,300 posts marked as Accepted Solutions on Community questions. Nourishing this group of super-users is mission critical. We do this by:
GIF slideshow of Esri staff thank-you posts to Esri Community MVPs
Revamped Gamification System
In consultation with Khoros during onboarding, we developed a comprehensive gamification system that has grown to include 66 badges, and with five new complex badges on track to distribute throughout the second half of 2023. More than 150,000 badges were unlocked by members in 2022 and community consultant FeverBee rated Esri Community’s gamification as strong and within their highest rank range: World Class.
Infographic from Esri Community’s 2022 Year-End Wrap Up ArcGIS StoryMap
Running an Annual Community Contest
We host an annual Esri Community contest to reward top customer members among three categories that span key points in the member journey: An Elite level strictly for Esri Community MVPs, a Rising Star level for other members with mature accounts, and a Newcomer of the Year level for members whose participation began within the calendar year. In addition to other prizes, winners at the Elite level received special recognition during Esri’s 2022 Annual User Conference. Conference attendance exceeded 23,000 customers, 54% of whom were members of Esri Community.
MVP Award Winners announcement at User Conference 2022
ArcGIS Product Integration
As part of our customer awareness and enablement strategy begun in 2020, we’ve taken steps to integrate Esri Community into our core software. Doing so helps users working in the software quickly connect with Community resources when needs arise, driving customer success and satisfaction.
Esri Community is easily accessed from ArcGIS Pro’s help ribbon
Education & Awareness Through Storytelling
To increase awareness of Esri Community value among existing and prospective users, 2022 kicked off two new multimedia series that combine video and articles to demonstrate the Community’s positive impacts on customer and staff audiences:
The National Interagency Fire Center (NIFC) Member Spotlight featured a large Esri Community User Group focused on wildland fire management.
Ad for Esri Community’s Inside Success staff video interview series
In addition to quarterly reporting, our Community team closed the chapter on 2022 by introducing a new, public Year-End Wrap Up report that utilizes Esri’s own ArcGIS StoryMaps product to combine highly digestible data and storytelling in an appealing multimedia format. By most recent counts, the report has been viewed more than 800 times.
GIF banner ad for our Year-End Wrap Up ArcGIS StoryMap
Staff Member Appreciation
As part of our staff enablement and adoption strategy, we annually publish a message of appreciation in Esri Community to thank the thousands of Esri staff who participate. Special attention is paid to the top 30 staff contributors from the year. All are tagged to notify them of the recognition. For the 2022 group, we additionally followed up with individual emails to the managers of all recognized staff to direct further meaningful recognition to their direct report’s accomplishments.
Letter to managers of staff recognized for 2022 Esri Community achievements
“Looking back as far as I can remember, the user/Esri community platform has evolved for two decades from Forum, to GeoNet, to now Esri Community. I found it’s a great place to listen to users’ pulses, give them a hand in solving problems while learning about their real-world cases, and bring their feedback and requests to our teams. I truly enjoy the interactions and the opportunities.”
—Response from recognized staff member
3. What were the results? More revenue generated, a reduction of costs, improved customer experience, more innovation, etc.? Tell us how Khoros helped you achieve those results. Please include quantifiable metrics if possible.
With decades of online community culminating in our current state, it’s evident that a combination of learnings, strong support from Esri leadership, and expansive capabilities of the Khoros platform have elevated Esri Community to its best position yet. Some of our key results include:
We Believe We are a Best-in-Class Community:
Esri knows community is the backbone to our company. It’s our secret sauce. Community is indispensable and essential to our values, character, and long-term success. That ethos takes many shapes throughout the company, but none more so than our online Esri Community where hundreds of thousands of users regularly gather to share ideas, collaborate, and solve problems together. Enthusiastic investment from our executive leadership backs our commitment to learn with our users as needs transform, to innovate on behalf of all stakeholders, and to arrange a full measure of resources in support of our membership and the important, world-changing GIS work that they do.
Special Thanks: Michelle Godin, Jaina Shah
Case Study Opt-In: Yes
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