Symantec Connect is an enterprise class, community-driven, social business support and information portal for Symantec products, offering users of Symantec’s deep catalog of applications and services a platform to interact with one another and Symantec employees through rich web-based tools. Connect enables the rapid publishing of information about the day-to-day use of Symantec products through key community-centric features which facilitate the customer’s ability to:
- Ask the community for help with issues and flag solutions when they are posted for easy discovery in the forums
- Suggest and vote on product enhancements
- Publish helper applications and scripts as community downloads
- Publish user-submitted screencast videos for enhanced knowledge sharing
- Build online/offline product centric user groups with events, private content publishing and messaging in the groups
- Keep up with content on a variety of topics within the IT and security-related fields through articles and blog entries
- Enjoy a highly qualified community experience enabled by a suite of Symantec employee moderation, organization, and publishing controls.
All of these features also empower Symantec employees to quickly publish official versions of forum discussions, blog entries, articles, events, downloads, and videos while moderating and vetting content, helping steer the community in the right direction.
After considering the landscape of both proprietary and open-source solutions, Symantec decided to use Drupal as a foundation for their community initiative. Symantec recognized Drupal to be offering:
- a wealth of out of the box CMS and social media features and functionality
- the ability to scale for high usage sites
- the theme and development flexibility to customize the user experience quickly without the typical lag they had experienced requesting new features from proprietary vendors
- a recognized developer community from which to draw quality development talent
Symantec’s internal UX team even installed and configured rough prototypes in Drupal leveraging the vast library of existing contrib modules to experiment with various use cases for the upcoming project. This ability to rapidly create functional prototypes further cemented the choice of Drupal as the platform for development.
A Brief History
Symantec, founded in 1982, is one of the world's largest software companies with more than 17,500 employees in more than 40 countries. The company provides both security and storage and systems management solutions. Their customer base includes consumers, small businesses, and some of the world's largest global organizations. The company's phenomenal growth can be attributed to a combination of market acceptance and strategic acquisitions.
In early 2008, Symantec's Customer Experience team began crafting a roadmap designed to consolidate several existing support and discussion sites into a consistent, best-of-breed community offering. The goals of this consolidation were to:
Give Symantec customers a single point of contact where they could engage with the company's support, marketing, and product management teams,
Draw on other customers experience and expertise,
Reduce the support and licensing costs of maintaining a collection of disparate community offerings.
The project was structured to allow Symantec Customer Experience team to provide input on the design and planning of the site while collaborating with a group of Drupal experts. Symantec’s internal team is augmented with Drupal expertise in the key areas needed for successful Drupal development.
- WebWise Solutions Inc. leads Connect’s project development and is the principle contact on the project providing long-standing expertise in Drupal-centric project management and user community development. WebWise handles all day-to-day operations and oversight of everything from server deployment to administering the rewards system and offering a first line of customer support for the site’s users, all of which enables Symantec to focus on utilizing Connect to serve their customers instead of having to worry about maintaining the platform.
- Tabs & Spaces Inc. brings the heavy lifting of custom module development creating upwards of 50 custom modules to augment and extend Drupal to meet the unique needs of building a customer support community around a deep catalog of products and services.
- Jeffrey Dalton Design Inc. adds the “hot sauce” of user experience centered design and theme work leveraging Drupal’s powerful theme system to tailor the interface to the specific needs of the community. After the initial launch the redesign process allowed Jeffrey Dalton Design to fully invest in re-visioning the theme and leveraging user feedback collected throughout the initial months of Connects operation. During this process the Symantec Corporation even went through a brand change of their own which was easily rolled into the new theme.
- Tag1 Consulting delivers the performance and scalability tuning that is essential for Drupal sites with millions of users. With multiple layers of content caching in multi-server configurations, world class scalability expertise allows Symantec Connect to continue it’s rapid growth in a high demand environment.
This augmented team approach allows for rapid expansion of area-specific development expertise when new features and functionality are requested while minimizing Symantec’s development overhead.