The 'why' of Knowledge Hub (& a brief update on commercials and roadmap)

Why am I writing this now? Well it's six months since myself and three of the team (Michael, Dimple and Liz) moved from the LGA to CapacityGrid. I think we're lucky to have landed in a place where everyone around us wants Knowledge Hub to succeed. True, it's been challenging working out the best way to make Knowledge Hub financially viable without public funding and, yes, we've had to pivot several times and adapt the models. However that's the highs and lows of being a start up - which effectively we are now - where we try out different options till we find the best solutions, trying not to upset too many people along the way. 
As part of this journey, we've revisited what Knowledge Hub was set up to be and what we want it to be in the future. I mean, we know what it is - a collaboration platform with some 170,000 members; it's a bunch of social media type tools; you can link with people, discuss, store documents, run projects; we talk about connect, share, learn...blah, blah, blah....
But I think it's time to remind ourselves about 'why Knowledge Hub'? Why is collaboration a good thing? 
Everything hangs off the why - not the what, the how or the who. They come later. The why informs the commercial model, future developments, how you engage with it and what you get out of it. 
Well, here's a thought. We want Knowledge Hub to tangibly help accelerate people's ability to do social good. So simply put, that's our ambition for KHub. 
Now, applying that to the reality of KHub 'washing its face' and our roadmap...
Recently we introduced a charge for private sector members - one of many revenue streams we're looking at. We then listened, reflected and tweaked the model, applying the social good concept. So, for example, if you're a carer and sharing experiences in the Fostering Exchange or you're a community worker and contributing to the Ending Gang Violence group then come on in, you're doing great stuff and we don't want there to be any barriers. If you're using KHub to do good things but you're not technically from the public, third or voluntary sectors then have a conversation with us.
Soon we'll be introducing advertising on KHub. (We've already started a conversation about this in KHub Connects.) This is another way to help KHub pay for itself and is incidentally part of the Council Advertising Network (you can read about CAN here, and there happens to be a webinar about it on 2 June) which means we have control over who advertises. We can even use it to promote your groups across the Network, inside and out Knowledge Hub!
On the development front, we'll soon be inviting people to test out new features in a closed alpha with a view to going into a public beta over the summer. Again we've listened to you and we want you to help us make Knowledge Hub work better.
We'll be blogging more about the developments and commercial models in the public KHub Connects group so do please join and give us your feedback.
So, in summary, we want Knowledge Hub to be about positive outcomes that anyone and everyone can achieve. It's about making a difference; doing social good: smarter, more efficiently and together. This is what we want Knowledge Hub to contribute to and hopefully, with that in mind, we'll crack the commercial model and improve how it works for you.

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Stephen Dale 7 Years Ago
I think you’ve asked the right question “Why Knowledge Hub”, but I’m not convinced that you’ve identified all of the answers. Most people will accept the benefits of collaboration, but they can do this on other platforms, whether it’s a community on LinkedIn or Google+, or a Yammer public or private network, or their own enterprise collaboration environment – Sharepoint or whatever. Most of these platforms have overtaken Knowledge Hub in terms of usability, user experience, collaboration and knowledge sharing features since the Hub was first launched. So what’s to coax them to use Knowledge Hub instead of (or as well as) what they are using now? Though it’s not explicitly stated in the post, I am of course assuming that the real priority is to grow the number of users, otherwise any income from advertising will only deliver very moderate returns. What I think is missing is one of the core concepts from the original design, i.e. “openness”. I’ve lifted this abstract from one of my early architecture design documents: “Built on an open platform using open software and open standards ….the Knowledge Hub will offer unparalleled flexibility for future development, enabling councils to commission or develop their own localised websites and/or applications for delivering value-added services to their communities” In other words, the development of value-added and personalised applications would be done by the users, and not constrained or confined to a development roadmap managed and controlled by the LGA – or now Capacity Grid. This is not an unrealistic concept if you consider how Wordpress delivers enhanced functionality through 3 rd party plugins, or the massive growth of the Apps market (and indeed, the concept was proved in the first few development sprints, where an Open Social App was developed and demonstrated, before being killed off). So personally, I think that unless and until Capacity Grid fully embraces the concept of “openness”, which means giving far more control to the users – which could in itself be a revenue-earning opportunity, e.g. as premium service, or simply taking a percentage cut from the app developers as per Apple iTunes -, Knowledge Hub capabilities will always lag behind the enterprise collaboration market and lack any significant differentiating capabilities. Regrettably, at present I think that potential new users will ask themselves “Why Knowledge Hub?” and will not come up with any compelling reasons.
Jason Fahy 7 Years Ago
I’m a relative newbie to KHub; a regular user of LinkedIn and SharePoint, oh and Facebook – but I’m not expert. I certainly don’t profess to be a technology expert and I certainly don’t come close to either Sarah’s or Steve’s knowledge and experience in these matters, but I’m feeling KHub is so much more than just the technology! I understood one of the founding values of KHub was to enable local government (now the wider public sector) to share knowledge with their peers up and down the country (now internationally) in a safe and secure on-line environment. This would encourage innovation and the propagation of efficiency initiatives. Personally, this is what most excites me about KHub. Over 10,000 new users have joined KHub in 2014. A drop in the ocean compared with the likes of Facebook and LinkedIn; but regardless of the number, new members to our community all the same and despite any perceived short-comings in the technology. Public Sector colleagues joining KHub to make a difference; work smarter in a safe and secure environment frequented by peers and like-minded people, and all with a common goal of delivering social value. Facilitators of groups that give up their own time on top of their day job to make their groups work, experts willing to deposit case studies and exchange knowledge in their fields of expertise. Not to mix work and home-life (Facebook), worry where content is stored and who is accessing it (LinkedIn), or be constrained by only being able to collaborate with their group (Huddle, LinkedIn, Private Network). Outside of KHub where else (this is where the experts list 100 other alternatives) can you securely share sometimes highly sensitive documents with a small group, and also be part of a 170k+ focused community growing at c 20% a year? To me, this is the genius of the early vision. Even with my limited experience I can tell KHub is a little clunky to use, but and perhaps only because I am a novice, I don’t particularly find the other platforms much friendlier or bother to exploit any richer functionality that exists. I want to do my basic business then move on. I wonder how many of our KHub community feel the same? It may be just me of course, but that’s not what I’ve been hearing from the recent demonstrations that I have gate-crashed, which the KHub Community Managers have been doing for new and prospective members. ‘Openness’ is very important to us. We talk a lot about transparency in CapacityGrid and strive to walk the walk in the way we do business with our members. I like the early vision and believe that an App store has real potential. In the short term, our focus is on making sure the KHub works for users and can cover its costs. In the longer term, the way the platform is evolving in line with Liferay will provide the opportunity for user development of apps within the Liferay marketplace. But we need to prioritise, and we’re simply not hearing that app development should be a primary focus today. I like the way the KHub team has strived to openly communicate with the community and continue to do so. I like the engagement with the 300 or so facilitators of groups. That’s ‘openness’ you don’t experience on LinkedIn/Facebook/Huddle, etc. Increased activity (not simply more registered users) is what’s key to a self-financing model. Our clear challenge for CapacityGrid, therefore, is creating a reason to choose KHub. Actually, there are many reasons and evidence as to ‘Why’ so our first job is to surface the experiences and case studies and share these stories. With ‘social value’ not individual glory or gain being our focus and by expanding our community right across the public sector and creating a real ‘Knowledge Exchange’ we can achieve a self-financing model and beyond that a gain-share model where our community shares the benefits of increased usage and scale.