By Keith Larson, Group Publisher/Vice President of Content
"I gain a lot of information and knowledge at the Emerson Exchange—but it's only one week, and we can't bring everyone who should go every year," says B. C. Spear, instrumentation and control technical authority at BP's Whiting, Ind., refinery. "But what if that one week could continue all year long?"
So when Emerson approached the Exchange board of directors, where Spear has a seat, with the idea of a community website to facilitate information exchange online, he was in. "It rang out with what we wanted to see—a one-stop place to go to for technical material; social in the sense of a technical resource exchange."
The idea behind Emerson Exchange 365 is to build on the experience of the physical event itself—the peer-to-peer sharing of things that work—explains Jim Cahill, who heads social media efforts for Emerson Process Management. "Secondarily, it's about connecting with Emerson experts and developers, but it's first and foremost about bringing our customers together with each other," Cahill says.
Emerson Exchange 365 is built on the same Telligent platform used by the likes of Dell and Texas Instruments to facilitate their customer networks. It consists of familiar social media functionality, such as forums and blogs, with subject matter grouped multi-dimensionally by industry and by technology category, much like the tracks at the Emerson Exchange event.
There is also a "World" track intended to incubate special interest groups (SIGs) based on language, geography or other special interests. "The hope is that as these SIGs grow, they may spawn entire language-and regional-based communities and new tracks for the existing site," says Cahill, who is looking for community managers who would take an active role in these groups.
Of course, Emerson Exchange 365 isn't the company's first venture into the social media community, and appropriate content from some of the existing blogs, such as the DeltaV technology team's ModelingAndControl.com and Cahill's Emerson Process Experts, will be mirrored via feeds on Emerson Exchange 365.