ROI for Social Technologies? In a Word, Squishy - Page 2

Ann All
The biggest benefit, mentioned by nearly 60 percent of respondents, was more knowledge sharing between staff. That's been consistently named as a valuable result by those using collaboration tools. about Enterprise 2.0 technologies.

In a post I wrote last summer, I , which I described as "a sort of intranet on steroids" with collaboration features including blogs, forums, profiles, wikis and social bookmarking. A Booz Allen Hamilton executive said helps employees easily determine whom they need to contact to get the information they need. It reduced what the exec called "do you know" emails, blanket messages sent out to try to determine which colleagues can help solve a problem. Folks are "one thousand times more likely to respond" if they get a specific email or call addressed to them rather than a blanket message, he said in a short video on the Enterprise Irregulars blog. is searchable, scalable and, perhaps most important, it organizes information contained in existing BAH systems from an employee perspective rather than an IT perspective.

His points are further reinforced by results of the AIIM survey. Among other benefits mentioned by at least 20 percent of AIIM respondents: faster responses to queries and questions, fewer multi-copy emails with attachments, better cohesion and team-building, and better innovation from ideas and comments.

The squishiness of these benefits doesn't appear to be slowing plans for social technology investments. The AIIM survey found a net 15 to 20 percent of respondents plan to spend more in the next 12 months across all areas. The three biggest areas targeted for investment are social business infrastructure, social add-ons for Microsoft SharePoint and consulting services and training.

As Mancini told me in our interview:

Some organizations, because of culture or hierarchy or whatever, these social technologies won't work for them. But I think that group gets smaller every year. You have to figure out ways for people to work more collaboratively and productively together. People tend to be your most expensive asset, and if you're not putting these tools in their hands, you're ultimately shortchanging the company.

For folks looking for some metrics to measure the effectiveness of social technologies, I offered some from Deloitte Canada's Duncan Stewart in a post from earlier this year. Among them: Measure the speed of knowledge flows by providing social tools to some, but not all, project teams. That way you can see if groups using the tools complete their projects faster than those relying on traditional communications tools like email.

Add Comment      Leave a comment on this blog post
Nov 21, 2011 1:17 AM Janelle Janelle  says:

Thanks Ann for this post. I agree, in terms of continued social business software adoption the fact that many businesses aren't able to offer a projected ROI'is a problem. I think if you link the generic social platform with specific key business cases, structured around the way companies operate, creating products, improving products with consumer insight, identifying unmet market opportunities, process optimization that equal cost-savings, ROI starts to les squishy'as you say. This post, on how purpose-built social software designed around innovation creates measurable ROI is a great perspective:

Nov 28, 2011 1:54 AM jmz jmz  says:

ROI is dependent on just one business case and like telephone and mail now social networking is a necessity but in moderation..It should be easy to determine saved time as one can measure internal mailtraffic compared to time spent on social network.

I would be surpriced if 15 minutes spent on social networks would save less than half an hour from e-mail traffic at one mailbox.


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