Pivotal LogoThis past November, the CenturyLink St. Louis User Group (#CTLSTL) hosted their second CloudWalk event. For those of you unfamiliar with this concept, CloudWalks are technical events where our users and customers get together to experience our cloud platform in a hands-on, learning environment. While there, technical experts guide everyone, technical and non-technical alike, in a group development session.

At the CloudWalk, the focus was on showcasing how easily available and deployable the open-source Cloud Foundry instance is on the CenturyLink cloud platform via hands-on exercises. Every participant was encouraged to bring a laptop and dive into the development. We covered a lot of ground, starting with a set-up of the Cloud Foundry environment, followed by a tutorial on deploying applications and then managing and scaling apps within the environment. We also discussed how companies are using Cloud Foundry to help their businesses thrive. And of course, there were cool prizes and excellent food to go along with all the learning.

CloudWalk Learning Session

After the CloudWalk, the new #CTLSTL User Group held a launch party with help from sponsors -- Dynatrace and A10 Networks --to showcase some new local tech from Aisle411, introduce some community opportunities from CoderDojoSTL (kids programming), and listen to some incredible music courtesy of Dr. Octagon, aka Kool Keith, and DJ Alexis. Our goal was to do something cool, new and disruptive! In order to attend the User Group launch party, guests were asked to download the #CTLSTL mobile app from the various app stores. The app was used as the ticket into the event.

Watch our CloudWalk video below:

How did a local User Group end up adopting a mobile app as a communications platform for their users? While I was attending Dynatrace’s #Perform2015 IT conference, I had a "light bulb" moment and realized that we might be able to use a mobile app for our user groups in the same way that an IT conference does. The event is held in the cloud platform, which never ends, and each user group meeting or event we hold is a break-out session. Dynatrace had over 1,000 of their actual users (not employees) at their conference, and they used their mobile app to coordinate all of it. Conference attendees used it to the hilt to check in and communicate during the event, so knowledge-sharing happened at an even faster rate than usual. The gamification that’s built into the mobile app earned additional engagement too.

CloudWalk After Party

This direct way to engage with users was awesome and fun! I found myself wondering if we could do the same thing with the app and our user groups. So we piloted the idea with our St. Louis User Group. The app makes it easy for users to talk about CenturyLink and their experiences on our platform and share information to help solve problems or just have fun. Our employees are connected as well, so the developers who make and support our products can give almost instant feedback and a direct line into our users' needs. The back-end of the app also gives us a ton of metrics without sacrificing users' privacy: what content people are interested in, what topics they talk about, how they engage, etc. Simply put, the app gives us data on how to better engage with our users.

I wanted to spin this app up and test it at our event in a short amount of time, so I decided to create our first version through DoubleDutch.me. They bent over backwards to help us and developed a multi-tenant CMS that hosts all of our information; we’ll begin rolling it out to other user groups shortly.

Through our app, anyone who wants to know more about CenturyLink Cloud can find a local group of users who can help them or point them in the right direction of the information they need. We will have all that information in one place - a calendar of our events, a list of our job opportunities, and avenues to access areas that house our content (SDKs, Knowledge Base articles, tutorials, etc.). It’s a one stop shop for focused CenturyLink Cloud content that users want, without all the noise.

The CenturyLink Cloud app is now open to all CenturyLink Cloud users as well as anyone interested in learning more about our platform. You can find and download the DoubleDutch 15 app in your device’s app store. To join the CenturyLink St. Louis Users Group or to get more information, email [email protected].