2020 - A Year in Review

Andrew Kratz

There is little doubt that historians will be analyzing 2020 for decades to come due to the impact of  COVID-19, the US election, and the social justice movement. We look with optimism toward 2021 and a return to a new normal in both our professional and personal lives. 

At Social Edge, we spend our work-lives focused on creating communities for management and employees (the modern company intranet). Additionally, we implement and support communities between an organization and its customers or members (an external community). 

With input from the Social Edge team, here are my reflections on a most unique year. 

Thinking back to late 2019, Social Edge prepared for a large set of clients that needed to migrate their Khoros JX (Jive-x) customer community to a new platform in 2020. At that time, Khoros had announced that Khoros JX would be sunset by the end of 2020. Many of the 200+ JX clients were scrambling to secure budget and evaluate platforms after this unexpected announcement. Despite the pandemic, these migrations did occur as planned. We migrated dozens of clients to various platforms; most notably Higher Logic, Khoros (formerly Lithium), Salesforce, and Verint (formerly Telligent).

Our team gained in-depth knowledge of these software platforms and the companies that operate them. In 2021, we look forward to bringing additional clients to these platforms, building product extensions and integrations, and, as we have always done and will continue to do, providing implementation and post-launch services. We also commit to a continuous evaluation process of additional community software platforms that we feel will interest our clients.  

For our employee-based community clients, the business trends of 2019 continued into 2020. Clients seek community platform partners with innovative roadmaps that will have the ability to integrate into their existing technology ecosystem. There were numerous client conversations regarding Microsoft (particularly MS Teams), Slack, federated search, and AI topics. Our community owners also continue to work with their leadership teams on advancing their company culture to adopt community and collaboration productivity tools. Community owners are optimistic that the work-from-home paradigm, fueled by the pandemic, will accelerate this adoption. The company leadership, it is believed, has near-term incentives to purchase and support collaborative productivity tooling for their employees.  

The investment Microsoft made into MS Teams and Sharepoint came into clear focus for our clients in 2020. Many clients that use Microsoft as their core productivity platform began a robust conversation with their IT teams as to whether they should move away from an "intranet in a box" to a pure Microsoft solution. We anticipate a growing number of clients to begin this type of conversation in 2021 and 2022 as existing software contracts near the end of their term. Additionally, coming out of the pandemic, clients will be evaluating their platform investments with the "new normal" in mind.

After assisting clients with moves to a pure Microsoft environment, we decided we would add Microsoft to our list of supported collaborative platforms. Additionally, we assisted clients on Igloo, Jive, Lumapps, Simplr, and Unily; all of which are software partners that meet our client's intranet/digital workplace requirements. 

For our organization, referrals became a large portion of our new business in 2020. We are very grateful to those who valued our work enough to recommend us to their network. We will not forget the trust you placed in us. Thank you!

The pandemic created uncertainty and stress for all of us, team members and clients alike. This accelerated their plans to migrate to a new platform or, for some clients, further invest in their existing community platform. There were concerns that budget freezes or cuts could be coming soon. A small number of active clients (about 10%) quickly placed their community plans on hold in the late spring as the pandemic directly impacted their core business. We were fearful this was just the start of what would be a stagnant year, but it turned out not to be the case.

One observation that our team had was that companies that already had a community solution before COVID-19 were better prepared. With months of hard work on their culture, the employees and management teams were already comfortable staying aligned and collaborating on work projects using this type of platform. Once the pandemic is behind us, we anticipate that many organizations will learn of and from these inspiring stories. 2021 could be a springboard year where many companies budget and plan to replace their static intranet with a digital workplace to implement in late 2021 or 2022. An increase in work-from-home by their staff will require these tools to meet and exceed the productivity expectations.

Social Edge's 35 person team is a remote workforce. We have joked this year that we have been "self-quarantined" since our founding in 2012. Because of that, the work day was fairly typical for us in 2020. We did our best to assist our clients who were making the transition to full-time remote work. They had many challenges, including virtual schooling, daycare, layoffs, Zoom overload, WiFi issues, as well as coronavirus sickness and worry. Many of our team members were going through some of the same challenges. In the end, I do feel we grew closer together as a team and with our clients this year. 

Bottom line, we’re all in it together. 

With 2020 now behind us, we look with hope to a new year and a much brighter future.  

About Andrew Kratz, President & Founder

Andrew is the president and founder of Social Edge Consulting. His professional career has focused on solving business challenges with technology. Prior to this, Andrew spent five years at McGraw-Hill managing their corporate systems team. He also has 12 years of experience in Wealth Management IT at Merrill Lynch. His formal education consists of a BS in Computer Science from The College of New Jersey and an MBA in Finance from Rutgers University.

About Social Edge Consulting

At Social Edge we work with leading organizations to create beautiful online communities that strengthen relationships and optimize how you connect, communicate and collaborate with your employees, customers and partners. Our mission is to empower people, create community and reinvent business.From strategy and implementation to community management and custom development, we have created over 450 communities across all industry verticals. We are continuously developing products and integrations that create added functionality for community managers, admins and users. Working together, Social Edge will empower your organization to be a leader in its industry.