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Entry submitted by: Juana Dehanov (jdurande) Community Strategist
Community: Cisco Tech Zone
Lithy category: Best Community Technical Implementation
Tech Zone is Cisco’s internal engineer community that was built by engineers for engineers. 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. And our users did not disappoint!
One of our top priorities is to drive content creation and reuse. We leverage the knowledge of our engineers to create content that not only will help them in addressing their customer issues but ultimately will be externalized to Cisco.com to directly support our customers.
With this in mind we developed features to link a support case to a post or an article that assisted an engineer in solving the customers’ issue. In this way we are able to track if that post/article was helpful.
We wanted the search engine 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 in the results. A version of this feature was later incorporated by Lithium in to the platform.
Another exciting feature we introduced is the ability to flag content to be externalized on our main website Cisco.com. Engineers are empowered to create content that will be shared with our customers.
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 attributes to Lithium’s already strong use of formulas for ranking. We've built a customized leader board at the community and at each category level 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 – providing solutions, creating and publishing articles – 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. The healthy competition of engineers wanting to show up at the top doesn’t hurt, either .
Our engineers wanted a way to bump a thread without incrementing the reply count, so we implemented 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.
In order to tap in to the creativity, enthusiasm and technical expertise of our community members, we launched the “Best Greasemonkey Widget Contest” in which we asked all our engineers to create a widget that would enhance the Tech Zone user experience.
Over 300 engineers submitted, commented and voted on the contest entries. After much deliberation, the Tech Zone community selected the winners. Our engineers created some incredible features, such as a Table of Contents option for the rich text editor and a site wide Navigator to enhance the user experience.
Our 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 deeply integrated with our case management tool.
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!
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