With only three months since the launch of their community strategy and limited team resources, the International Society for Computational Biology (ISCB) held its first simultaneously hybrid event ISMB July 10-14. The virtual component of the event was accessible via Nucleus, ISCB’s year-round community hub. The organization hosts five global conferences annually and, with a strategic (and lofty) goal of science equity worldwide, saw the value in leveraging JUNO technology for a brighter future.
We sat down with ISCB CEO Diane Kovats in our Solution Series for a behind-the-scenes look at how the ISCB team conceived and developed Nucleus to serve its community between events. Watch the webinar now on-demand here or read on to learn how Diane and her team achieved the impossible and scaled their mission with their events and 365 community strategy.
How it started
Like so many others, ISCB found their way to event and community technology when the needs of their community changed overnight due to the COVID-19 virus. But for ISCB, the technology borne out of a pandemic proved to be much more. Back in 2020, the organization already had plans to launch an online training academy.
“When we hit the pandemic, it was an eye-opener for us how quickly we could achieve the mission of science equity and really enable those who don’t have the funding to travel to these big conferences to come and collaborate and present their science,” said Kovats.
The pandemic forced ISCB to embrace digital event technology, but the organization saw the value of leveraging the technology to serve an even greater goal. One platform that could extend community reach 365, be familiar among its entire user base and fulfill the need for a central, boundaryless resource hub was ideal. “We have wanted a central hub for our community for years prior, but couldn’t figure out how to do that until it was dropped in our lap due to the pandemic.”
Where it’s going
From juggling content on YouTube, Slack channels and Google groups, the small team of four at ISCB saw value in condensing their tech stack to one simple platform. And Diane says, “Once it all comes together, you’ll start to see it organically grow.” Users of Nucleus can now share ideas or tag community experts, and leadership groups at ISCB can easily meet. All in one place.
Plus, ISCB found added value in analyzing the digital behavior of its Nucleus user base to pivot to different revenue models for its annual event and beyond. And as more user behavior is documented within Nucleus, ISCB will be able to make even better decisions for the future. It’s easy to see the results are worth it, even only three months in.
Here are some of Diane's best tips to launch your own community strategy:
Keep fresh content coming into the platform and get early adopters engaged
This can be difficult with small teams but always look for ways to refresh and renew your content. And having the right staff to keep pulse on user behavior and engage with the community is key. ISCB has a dedicated content manager, used 125 special interest volunteers to beta test the product before the launch of Nucleus and began moving content over slowly, starting with their online training.
Have a communication strategy laid out when you start
One misstep Diane admits is not making time for followup on major broadcast emails about the Nucleus community, including content video clips or platform tutorials to entice and educate. Realize it may take time for your user base to adopt the technology. Teach them the tech and remember that you are attempting to change habitual human behavior, so be patient!
Get leadership on board by presenting ideas on how to leverage the technology
ISCB’s board was open to innovation and embracing technology, but yours might not be. Present them with ideas that excite them. Here are some of Diane’s: create breakout sessions for research areas; provide opportunities for speakers to provide session updates on research, one way to utilize backlogs of content capture; embrace ideas from the community itself… the tools available will inspire equity and inclusion!
What’s next for ISCB? Diane and her team are looking at ways to engage more and add content as the organization continues to adapt to the needs and behaviors of its audience.
The team at ISCB have proven the impossible can be done when you come together under a common goal. On a mission to resolve inequity in science, they now boast a vetted social media hub for their community of knowledge-seekers: a haven for collaboration, engagement with their science community and access to the most important content to get ahead in their careers.
Want more? Watch Diane tell her story on-demand now on Connect.JUNOLive.com.