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Is American Express Creating The Future Of Small Business Communications?

Started in 2007, American Express began publishing OPEN Forum, a platform for small biz owners to share advice and get information about their trades-in-question. With a rise to mobile use, AMEX execs see a shift to business owners needing on-the-road information, and the OPEN Forum is following them there.

Scott Roen

American Express OPEN Forum will soon see a better mobile experience for its users, says AMEX Open Forum Vice President Scott Roen. The move is a “natural” progression of a site that now delivers over a million page views a month to entrepreneurs who do most of their work on the road.

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They will launch an Android app for the forum during the first week in June.

The site is seeing upgrades every three weeks, and most of those newest upgrades have dealt with mobile, iPad apps and video.

While it looks like a conscious move on AMEX’s part to “be social,” Roen says that the moves have more to do with following small biz owners to where they do their work. Mostly that is while they are traveling and going to events to meet other business owners.

Roen stresses that after launching the site in 2007, the AMEX team learned most of how the site was to be used by meeting business owners at trade shows.

Open Forum

“We were pretty early to the space,” says Roen.

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We were going to trade shows, we were going to events and basically anywhere
business entrepreneurs were going. We saw over and over again, how they interacted and
what they did. They were voracious consumers of information and content
education at these physical events. they networked, networked, networked. they
walked out with just these big stacks of business cards.

The experience of publishing web content has opened some eyes at AMEX, says Roen. They primarily see themselves now as a brand-publisher, a theme that has gained a lot of traction among the very large consumer goods and services brands globally

We started primarily with the idea of “How do we connect business
owners with each other,” but what we found is that it’s crucially important, but the
consumption of information, the ability to be educated on a whole host of things
… They crave that information and education. We have become a publisher.

The launch of the platform and the insight and analysis that comes from the perpetual feedback cycle between content and consumers has educated AMEX, too.

They now spend resources understanding this feedback loop and are creating products and services derived from this audience interaction, says Roen.

You can follow Roen on Twitter @scottroen and the OPEN Forum @openforum.

About the author

Douglas Crets is a Developer Evangelist and Editorial Lead at the Microsoft BizSpark program. He works to tell the story of thousands of startups hosted in the Azure cloud platform built by Microsoft.

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