According to Gartner many companies are making buying decisions on enterprise social software based on vision and strategy (intangible value) rather than traditional accounting based ROI calculations (tangible value). Equally executives of most companies want these investments expressed as tangible value.
- Would you calculate ROI of your laptop or phone?
- Would you calculate ROI of the coffee machine at office?
- Would you calculate ROI of your E-Mail system?
With no doubts we agree that there is an ROI of your laptop or the coffee machine at office. There is an ROI of anything that provides value. Then why have organizations implemented enterprise social software without knowing the ROI? Well, you can calculate the ROI of enterprise social software but how one would calculate the ROI is not always obvious.
We could say that ROI for enterprise social software cannot be calculated, but you can track things. We can also say that the ROI of enterprise social software is that you can employee engagement & improve productivity, or that social software ROI is that it can reduce communication costs. Nobody knows exactly upfront how much money you will save or if you will be able to create or increase a cognitive surplus in the organization by implementing social technologies. Only when things are done you know what the actual result was and you have a clear view on the benefits. Though, it is certain that social technologies are going to be adopted in some way, shape or form no matter what company or market you are working in & will be in every enterprise in the upcoming 5 years.
While some of the above statements might make you chuckle and others might seem like they are true, but they don’t really help you in business meetings with peers and executives who want real business answers. Why would you dive into something that cannot be measured? And without a way to obtain benchmarks, how could you tell when something works? How could you track the progress and gather the right metrics or do more of the right things? How could you articulate the business case for enterprise social software?
In business you are responsible for some expected outcomes, as well as for determining the strategy for driving those outcomes. This is true for enterprise social software as well.
To be successful with enterprise social software you HAVE to determine why you are doing it. What strategic goals and objectives are you trying to reach? Often such initiatives fail since businesses are not sure how to align their business goals with the initiatives.
The metrics you need to evaluate the success of enterprise social software are specific to your organization. Each organization has specific, measurable goals and objectives they have to hit. Typical examples of business goals are:
- Increase employee engagement.
- Increase productivity.
- Increase sales.
- Increase ideas generated in the company.
- Increase collaboration with partners & customers.
- Reduce e-mails.
- Decrease new employee on-boarding time.
- Decrease duplicated tasks.
- Decrease software tools & support cost
- Faster access to knowledge.
- Faster access to internal experts.
- Reduce communication costs.
- Reduce travel costs.
You can apply the SMART Methodology (Specific, Measurable, Actionable, Realistic, & Timed) to your enterprise social software goals.
DISCOVERING THE HIDDEN TREASURE
With the industry costs averaging $3 to $15 per user per month, and with no hardware & low management costs, even small increases in key performance indicators driven by enterprise social software platforms produce significant ROI.
Harvard Business Review states that “If implementing enterprise social software can increase employee engagement by as little as 0.1%, based on Best Buy’s correlation between engagement & operating income that would result in an ROI of greater than 800%”
Enterprise systems have lived its life. Let’s go beyond them. A recent result of a study performed by McKinsey provides some interesting insights for organizations who’ve implemented such social software;
- 77% gain faster access to information
- 60% reduce their communication costs
- 52% gain enhanced access to internal experts
- 44% cut their travel costs
- 41% experience increased employee satisfaction
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