Intel is looking to offer its IT customers a new state of bliss via the Web.
On March 31, the Santa Clara, Calif., chip maker is launching a new collaborative Web portal that its calls “IT Utopia,” which aims to create a new community of IT users, developers and potential customers who can use the site to interact with both Intel’s in-house experts as well as with other IT professionals.
The Utopia site will work with Intel’s already established “Open Port” community site, where IT users can access the “Ask an Expert” feature that allows them to communicate with experts or check in with others who have posted their observations. The new site also allows users who are not registered with Open Port to follow the conversation or create new forums.
The idea of Utopia is to take the community and collaborative experience far beyond posting comments on new Intel products, said Bob Duffy, the company’s Online Community Strategist.
Instead of just posting about products such as vPro or a new Xeon processor, the community could post questions, get answers and have discussions about how vPro has been used to create better desktop management environments or how Intel uses its Xeon to help with its own internal virtualization projects.
“We wanted to shift over more toward a listing model where people could ask questions of the people that we have [in-house] and who are managing our forum discussions and answering directly back on this site without really having to go back into the community site,” Duffy said.
In order to create Utopia and Open Port, Duffy said Intel turned to Jive Software’s Clearspace X software, a Java-based application that allows for the creation of a number of content tools, including blogs, and wikis. From a single interface, the application can build a rating system, tagging, workflow and RSS (Real Simple Syndication) feeds.
To create the new site, Intel wanted to take the discussions found on the Open Port site and migrate that material to Utopia. Within the Clearspace application, Intel used a feature called “Community Everywhere,” which helps create a Java code “snippet” and allows for the material to move from one site to another.
Not Only a Product, but Also a Community
“By extending the conversation, we can display recent discussion items and also provide a forum that would allow people to add their voice to the discussion without having to go to the community site and register,” Duffy said.
Chip Gliedman, an analyst with Forrester Research, said this use of Web 2.0 applications started with companies such as Best Buy and Amazon in order to getter a better gauge of what customers were interested in and how their tastes were changing.
Now, Gliedman said vendors such as Dell, through its IdeaStorm blog, are using these applications to not only assist IT departments, but also to create discussions that generate interest in new products and attract new customers.
“It’s a way to tie all the information that is available into one depository and make it easily available,” Gliedman said. “For example, you might search on a Web site for a product and then you are presented with the information and you also might be directed to a relative forum where this is all being discussed.”
For companies like Intel, the forum also provides a venue to hold onto its core group of buyers for its processors and developers who build applications based on the company’s x86 platform. Even if a rival company offers better products, these users might not want to give up the community that has been built around it.
“It raises the cost of switching vendors because it’s not only the product you are giving up, but also the community,” Gliedman said.
Intel will launch the Utopia site March 31 in the United States, Brazil, Canada and China and then add seven more countries during the next three months. In order to create the advertising campaign and social networking strategy, Intel used various teams from McCann Erickson, MRM Worldwide and Universal McCann.