The first user groups were launched in the 1950s. People using technology, such as IBM's mainframe systems, came together into loose clubs to support each other, spread best practices, and share ideas. From the dawn of the micro-computing revolution through the proliferation of web-based software, software and technology user groups have grown in importance and numbers.
While user groups have their roots in early technological platforms, today, user groups are a major force behind the voice of customers for almost all software and technology companies. While many in the business technology arena have been members of, worked alongside, or operated on the periphery of user groups, user group management is still a fuzzy concept due to their organic origins.
- Should your company run the user group or should it be run by your customers?
- Can you still get the customer advocacy and product feedback benefits if your user group is not fully run by volunteers?
- Where do you find people willing to dedicate their time to setting up your user group?