Lithys 2012: Cisco Tech Zone - Best Community Technical Implementation

Lithys 2012: Cisco Tech Zone - Best Community Technical Implementation

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Company: Ciscocisco.png

Entry Submitted by: Becky Scott (lolagoetz) Tech Zone Success Manager

Community: Cisco Tech Zone 

Lithy Categories: Best Community Technical Integration

tech1.pngCisco’s internal engineer community 'Tech Zone' was built from the ground up by engineers… for engineers. The community developers are also a part of our target audience.


From the beginning we wanted an agile space where we could incorporate constant feedback and enhancements.


When our community opened for business, it came with an Idea Exchange to solicit any and all feedback from our users. Our users did not disappoint.


tech2.pngWe started out by identifying where we want to reuse knowledge. We link open cases to posts and articles to track which content is helpful in solving a case.


We wanted search to be front and center in our workflow, so we implemented a search-before-post feature that surfaces related content – and displays the number of kudos and case links right there in the results. And we’ve used REST APIs to deeply integrate our community into our systems, such as our trouble ticketing portal, our knowledge creation strategy, and our corporate instant messaging system.


tech3.pngOur community is also an application development platform. In order to accelerate wide adoption we have ensured that our community is not a stand-alone tool, rather it is seamlessly tied to the engineers' workflow and seamlessly integrated with (and on an equal footing with) the other service delivery tools.  To this end we’ve made 100+ enhancements to the basic Lithium community, based on our business needs. This is where our business drives the tool instead of the tool driving the business. No limited capabilities here!


We’ve taken Lithium’s reputation system and not only incorporated it into our community, but we’ve added custom elements and added our own variables to Lithium’s already strong use of formulas for ranking.


We've built a customized leaderboard to highlight the accomplishments of our users based on our enriched reputation formulas. The result is a reputation system that effectively implements weighting factors to allow us to emphasize our organizational priorities and provides a checkpoint for our engineers.



As we see important behaviors that we want to encourage, we can build additional custom components right into the reputation. This reputation model also feeds into a rich custom metrics portal so engineers can self-evaluate their technical growth as well as arming them with tangible data for performance reviews and career development discussions.


Engineers need a quick way to preview information to see if it’s relevant to the case they are working. So we integrated a locally-grown case preview tool that allows our engineers to preview a portion of a case or bug. This has been hugely helpful in being able to find a quick answer within our community.


And we have even more awesome integrations in the works. Our engineers wanted a way to bump a thread without bumping the reply count, so we’re currently implementing a "raise hand" feature that allows a user to draw attention to a thread in progress in order to ask for additional help.




The ability to quickly get help from experts and the ease which knowledge can be captured and re-used by others makes Tech Zone the perfect tool for us. I think we should also recognize the [Cisco] and Lithium teams for being so receptive to TAC's feedback and their willingness to tweak/ implement new features, as this is a huge part of what makes Tech Zone successful in my eyes.” – Cisco TAC engineer, Mike Robertson.

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