The Blue Dog Scientific Blog: Q&A with the CEO of Carii.

Q&A with the CEO of Carii.

Interactions with an Internet Innovator.
In my prior investigations into a novel Communities based website developed by +Carii, Inc., I was particularly fortunate to have direct access to the CEO of the company, +Denise Hayman-Loa.

Indeed, as Denise has been just so approachable, helpful and ever willing to answer my questions,  I recently suggested that I'd like to create an interview style blog post with her... and she readily agreed.

This post is the result. Questions are by me and the Answers are from Denise, to whom I'm extremely grateful for such detailed  and engaging responses.

Q. Can you tell us a little bit about your background?
A. Much of my career was in Financial Services, first in technology, then as a management consulting partner, and then building businesses. For example I started a business in the mid-90's at Goldman Sachs to deliver risk management technology, data and services to institutional clients over the internet. Those were really the early days of delivering B2B services over the internet of our key clients was Microsoft's Treasury department. Another was a broker/dealer in Australia. We wrote a book about it too that is still in print called “The Practice of Risk Management”

Q. How did the idea for Carii arise?  
A. The idea for Carii emerged as a platform to solve a problem WunFie Loa, Carii’s President and CTO had with a global multi-group community he was a member of. The community had challenges communicating across all of the groups, but at the same time keeping local communications local. This idea then expanded as we saw the need for non-profits and businesses around the world to communicate with their various constituents. As we built the platform, we also discovered that the interest and need for true multi-community capabilities in a flexible online platform was becoming front and center.  

Q. In terms of online business, what problems does Carii seek to solve?  
A.Carii is built around the importance of customer communities, we seek to assist company strategies for building their business by supporting communities of their customers. At Carii, we strongly believe that Customer Communities are the future and our functionality is designed to support all aspects of this approach.  

Q. Can you provide an example of how business people are using Carii and the outcomes?  
A. I recently had a conference call with two of the key team members from NACCE (National Association for Community College Entrepreneurship), to get their feedback on their experience with Carii and to talk about next steps. Their Community Manager is a good sounding board in particular - she has a lot of experience with related platforms. NACCE is a perfect candidate for Carii because as a membership association of over 300 community colleges they encompass Education, Membership Groups, Multiple chapters (all the members are colleges), and Partnering through Affiliation. In summarizing the feedback they tell us they love it!! Was so great to hear them say that. They are experienced and comfortable with technology and are a high bar. Here are their comments: 
  • Very easy to join. 
  • Easy to start a group and invite others. 
  • Posting and attaching were easy. 
  • Interface is easy and intuitive. 
  • Just enough similarity to the other platforms to be easy to learn while still being unique and fun. 
  • Love the multiple attachments on posts. 
  • Also like that the system sends emails and the email frequency setting in profile (coming soon).
I asked for a wish list, and the main thing was the same item we have heard recently from others: the ability to "preserve" a post or article so it's easy to find and, related to that, a place to gather common topics. I also asked if they would review our design for the upcoming Chat functionality and they were happy to. And they want to be kept informed of new features as we bring them on. They have already set up a private community for their team. They would like to pilot how Carii can be used as an engagement tool for their members. They are thinking through how to set one up for their "Member Ambassadors" to pilot the process for onboarding them onto the platform. They plan to "over-message" at first to get people really engaged. Will be a good case study for us.

Q. Are there any additional features which users have requested which you are implementing?
A. I think what the clients are interested in is to have a place in their community that is a source of information for their members. For example, in NACCE's case, they have membership documents and other common topics that they would like to put in one place in their community for access by all. In the case of a college class at the University of Wisconsin, they asked for the same thing, a place to put assignments and class readings. Mostly I think they want to keep their members in their communities - not all of them will be very tech savvy. Since we have a payment capability built in to the system for donations now, we are including a member dues and event payment function – this will enable groups such as business networkers or bloggers to charge a fee if they wish to. We are also building an exciting new cross community Chat capability which will work on both web and mobile versions.  

Q. Looking now to technical aspects, is it possible to share Carii posts to social media like Facebook and Twitter? Is Carii listed on sharing apps like AddThis?
A. Yes, we use addthis now inside of Carii (when you do a post you can share out through addthis so people can share with Facebook, Google +, LinkedIn, etc. Something people really like about our platform is that members and communities own their own data in Carii, unlike in the other platforms. And if for some reason you need to remove a post that was shared everywhere (even out through addthis) you can delete it at the source and it disappears from everywhere it was shared. But turning that around and getting included in addthis would be great for us. I was also thinking about HootSuite and SproutSocial. The team have also set up an ability to insert a bitly link into a blog or other group on other platforms and then when people click on the link, up pops a direct ability to sign on to Carii and get right in to the community on Carii. It's already working with a blog community. Makes for a good easy bridge to get people to move over. Will let you know when it's ready – should be any minute now!  

Q. I've very recently become involved with a project on the theme of online safety issues and children it crossed my mind about whether this is something that needs to be given serious and consideration on a platform like Carii. Have safeguards, reporting, etc. been put in place on Carii?  
A. This is a very important point and one we need to pay serious attention to. Currently in the platform, as you mentioned, administrators can remove inappropriate posts. We are also implementing a "pre-approval" function for admins to approve posts before they go out, which will also help. If a community member identifies an inappropriate post their first recourse is the community owner. If that doesn't work they can contact us. We need to establish formal work flow procedures for this and continue to add functions in to the system for it. Thanks for bringing it up.  

Q. I have been extensively writing about the poor user experience of another current widely platform. What  is your view  of the importance of  the user experience  
A. This is extremely important to us. We must always strive for great customer service as the key to our business model. That alone will differentiate us.

Quite, +Denise Hayman-Loa, Quite!

For my information about Carii, I recommend the publicaly viewable Learn About Carii Community... on Carii itself. There you will not only find a series of thought provoking posts contributed by Denise, but you can also engage with her directly too.

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