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Communispace Corporation

SAWIB08 Winner

Company: Communispace Corporation, Watertown, MA
Entry Submitted By: Greenough Communications
Company Description: Communispace Corporation is the leader in building, managing and facilitating private branded communities that deliver the voice of the customer and enable businesses to generate continuous insights, drive faster innovation, and drive revenue. Founded in 1999, the company has created more than 300 customer communities for industry leaders such as Kraft, Hewlett-Packard, Charles Schwab.
Nomination Category: Company/Organization Categories
Nomination Sub Category: Most Innovative Company of the Year – Up to 2,500 Employees

Nomination Title: Communispace Corporation

1. Describe for the judges the activities and accomplishments of the nominated company during the eligibility period (up to 500 words):

Some of the world’s most successful brands have a secret weapon. They know how
to listen to their customers.

Long before the mainstream success of Web 2.0 phenomena such as Facebook and
MySpace, Communispace Corporation, headed by entrepreneur and best-selling
author Diane Hessan, was harnessing the power of Web 2.0 technology to build and
facilitate private, highly-engaged online customer communities. These
communities harness the voice of the customer to uncover insights which speed
new product innovation, increase marketing, drive loyalty and, ultimately, fuel
new business growth.

Today, more than 100 leading global brands—through more than 300 individual
communities—have partnered with Communispace to get deep insights about their
customers in real time. Current clients are from a broad array of industries,
including Consumer Packaged Goods, Hospitality, Financial Services, High
Technology, Retail, Internet, Media, and more. Communispace has grown rapidly
since its founding in 1999, nearly doubling its business year-over-year since
2005. During this same period, more than 90% of its clients have renewed their
business, and many of these clients have also added new communities to listen to
additional customer segments. Each password-protected online community consists
of 300–500 expertly recruited consumers who participate in weekly
activities—from brainstorming ideas and commenting on market trends, to sharing
experiences and reacting to specific product innovations or advertising
creative. Each highly-facilitated community is expertly managed by a
Communispace facilitator to ensure strategic relevance and encourage vibrant
participation (an unprecedented 86% of the people who log-in to
Communispace communities on a weekly basis actually participate—a participation
rate unmatched by any other social media.)

Communispace is now an innovation engine that revolutionizes the way brands
engage their customers. Furthermore, they are helping companies enlist their
customers in the innovation process, informing new product offerings and
branding campaigns that over time reach to the heart of what customers really
want. Successes include:

• Kraft, who leveraged its community to discover demand for an innovative
single-serve snack food product, resulting in development of the Nabisco
100-calorie snack packs that generated $100 million in new revenue in less than
one year.

• Unilever, whose AXE community helped catapult the AXE brand to #1 market
position by taking cues from guys actually using the product.

• GlaxoSmithKline Consumer Healthcare, who used the community every step of the
way to help launch their alliTM weight loss product, which generated $150
million in revenue in the first six weeks.

• Hallmark developed a new product and achieved double-digit growth in the
product’s first year.

Industry recognition for Communispace includes:

• A 2007 Forrester Groundswell Award in the Listening Category for its Charles
Schwab GenX Community, and finalists including GlaxoSmithKline Consumer
Healthcare and Kraft South Beach Diet

• Mass Technology Leadership Council 2007 Social Media Company of the Year

• Inc. 5000 Index of fastest-growing privately held companies in
2008, 2007, 2006, and 2005

To continue its industry leading innovation, Communispace has its aptly named
Innovation and Research Group, comprised of ethnographers, data mining experts,
and social scientists. This group uncovers new patterns and trends evident in
online community behavior and continuously tests new techniques and
technologies. Each year, this group brings new innovation to online communities,
providing marketers with the most effective and innovative tools on the market
to elicit customer insights.

2. List the URLs (web addresses) of any online news stories, press releases, or other documents that you would like the judges to see that support your entry. IMPORTANT: List each URL on a separate line, begin each URL with http://, and enclose each URL in square brackets. For example, []:

3. Provide a brief biography of the person or persons who lead the nominated company (up to 100 words):

Diane Hessan is President and CEO of Communispace, one of the fastest growing
social networking companies in the country. A pioneer in creating online
communities to help marketers deeply engage customers, Diane helped found
Communispace in 1999 and hasn’t looked back.

Diane has received many awards and citations for her leadership and workplace
innovation, including Entrepreneur of the Year from Women’s Business Boston and
“Best Boss” from Winning Workplaces/Fortune Small Business. In addition to her
professional recognition, Diane is a highly sought-after speaker, and expert in
the social networking arena.

A summa cum laude graduate of Tufts University, Diane received an M.B.A. from
Harvard Business School.