There should be three layers in your measurement, and no single measurement tells you enough about the performance of the platform. You need to think beyond activity measurements to content value and business value.
Activity measurements are generally automated data collected from the enterprise social network, they may include;
- number of people signing up
- number of visits
- completed profiles
- communities opened
- community activity
In general these measures are used to improve your enterprise social network; either the platform itself or your adoption programme. Here are a couple of examples;
If the signup rate to your brand new enterprise social network is really low; the most likely explanation is a lack of awareness that your enterprise social network exists. Remedial action might be adding information and links to the intranet home page, or using an off-line campaign.
Use the user activity measures to find early adopters who can act as ambassadors in their business or perhaps take on a community management rule. Look at the most flourishing communities to find patters to copy in other communities which have a similar purpose.
Activity measures are all good useful measures, but they’re not enough.
Perhaps your activity measure tell you that a community is wildy active, with new members every day and a lot of posts and comments. Great stuff you think. Then you look at the community, and find that it’s a community where colleagues can share photos of their pets. It’s not bad to have social communities on your enterprise social network, but you probably didn’t build it for kittens. This is where evaluating content value comes in.
This can’t be automated, someone must look at conversations and communities and evaluate the value generated. They will look at whether the conversation involves finding expertise, answering questions, supporting a work process, generating new ideas or sharing knowledge. The more those behaviours are shown, the more value the community has.
A further level of measurement is business value; to what extent to activities on the enterprise social network have an impact on your company’s bottom line. It could be cost savings, reduction in email, effective innovation or improvements in service. You can often quantify this improvement in euros, dollars or the currency of your choice.
For example one company used communities on their Enterprise Social Network as service channels, they managed to reduce the average time taken to answer internal service enquiries from 8 days to a few hours, the impact on customers was that their applications were approved (or at least decided on) faster. That’s got to be good for business.
Sharp-eyed readers will have noticed that I haven’t mentioned ROI (Return on investment), some people believe that as we don’t ask for ROI on other work tools such as email we shouldn’t ask for it on this. I see their point. Others point to how difficult it is to calculate ROI for a platform, for me that’s the real issue. The benefits of an Enterprise social networks tend to be a lot of small wins in the initial phases (except in one case I’ve seen which had a strong intergration with the company’s CRM systems). So you’d need to calculate and then add together all those small wins, it becomes a rather vexatious exercise. I found that talking about supporting business processes in an Enterprise Social Network and providing examples and data demonstrating business value was strongly persuasive, possibly more effective than an assumption-ridden ROI calculation.
This post is part of a chapter on risk from the book I am writing called “The ESN Playbook”