Tag Archives: E2.0

Some thoughts on Enterprise 2.0 ROI

Some interesting posts over what for us in the UK was an Easter Bank Holiday weekend, on E2.0, its progress and and its ROI. The discussions all centred the long roasted meme of when, when and what for Enterprise 2.0 will truly come kicking and screaming into the business world.

Trough of 2.0?

For example, Hutch Carpenter reckons we’re quite likely in the Gartnerian Trough of Disillusionment where the purported gains of 2.0 seem a far off promised land and any real gains, mere milk and honey of the mind.  Nonetheless:

What gives me comfort is that the Hype Cycle provides a fairly well-known model for how technology ultimately becomes core to the way businesses do work. So let the analysis show that Enterprise 2.0 cannot, in fact, solve every problem that companies have.

ROI of 2.0?

Dion Hinchcliffe asks the question of how do we determine the Enterprise 2.0 ROI and starts of by citing Andrew McAfee’s piece from a couple of years or so back, The Case Against the Business Case. Here Andrew points to the intangible nature of the gains and points to a “costs required to acquire capabilities” model as being far more preferable.

Dion is keen to stress that he does see actual gains, but asks if Enterprise 2.0 truly strategic in the unique way that information technology can so often be? Pointing out that  a third of companies (globally?) are already using 2.0 tools in one shape or another, Dion argues that they will see gains, but that:

Innovation often comes from where you least expect it and harnessing collective intelligence, the core principle of Web 2.0 as well as Enterprise 2.0, is the very art of eliciting value from emergent systems such as the Web and our intranets.

Why?

One aspect I think is interesting in all of this (amongst so many interesting ones), is this question of ROI itself – the why are we doing it? It’s similar in some ways to the discussion sparked off by my LinkedIn poll on ‘what’s the single most important aim of internal communications?‘. One could phrase this as are we there to just do some good, or to prevent a bad from happening, or can internal communications all be seen in the sense of the bottom line, the drive for profit?

Kicking butts

Indeed, for companies  Motorola are all too clear on why they’re using social media:

“I don’t beat Nokia or Cisco or Siemens by having better buildings or shinier cafeterias. Companies are human beings solving problems or responding to crises by working with each other. If you can make your company less of a top-down company at a higher speed than your competition, you have just kicked their butts.”

Motorola VP Toby Redshaw.

Thinking inside a box

Profit is (for once literally) the bottom line yet for a business in contemporary capital it cannot be a single strive for it.  It has to be  a combination of elements.   I tried to combine how these might function together for internal comms as so:

I wonder if it’s worthwhile to start to frame E 2.0 into the wider cultural frame. If we’re talking of Enterprise 2.0 ROI then the pattern might shift and the business element play a more pivotal role – perhaps Engagement comes Innovation – I’m not sure and need to mull on this more. What I don’t think we can avoid is the question of the Enterprise 2.0 ROI.

Post script on Red Herrings

I hope you like my Photoshop of some red herrings – I was going to call this post “2.0: ROI, the red herring that has yet to be caught!”  Maybe I’ll return to that, as I originally tried to cover far too much for a bear of little brains to write in one post.  There’s some snippets on the cutting room floor I will return to, esp about the’ Q of impossibility of cultural change’.

Burton report on Enterprise Social Networks

Mike Gotta has produced a very useful Field Research Study for Burton: Social Networking Within the Enterprise (free registration required).  There’s a good exec overview at CIO.com: Report: Enterprises Struggle to Adopt Social Networking Internally. Note however, CIO’s somewhat negative angle there, a closer read shows that there are a number of key hurdles to overcome:

Culture

Winning over old ways of doing things is key – ‘we communicate top down’ is an issue to be turned into an opportunity. Cultural dynamics are central. Conservative practices will win through, unless countered with a winning and workable option. In this HR is pivotal- you need to have HR on side. For IT, the argument is  different – Gotta argues that IT need to see that the needs of the business are what counts, not their systems. As one respondent put it:

“[IT] people are  not thinking about what’s best for the company, but rather what’s best for SharePoint. Ops is a consideration, but at the end of the day, it’s the business that counts.”

Therefore IT need to be won over if effective ESN is to see the light of day.

Business Case and ROI

What was really interesting was the business case and ROI for Enterprise Social Networks. The data shows a lack of clarity on either in the respondent’s minds. What this highlights is the need for the technologies to solve specific solutions rather than being a nice to do exercise. After all, no other project would be rolled out without such. However, and here’s the rub – as Gotta reminds us, there’s no set and agreed way of measuring ROI in this area. These are the dichotomies that make funding more and more difficult to ‘attain (and sustain)’:

•  ROI is the wrong focus vs. ROI is still appropriate.

•  Current approaches for analyzing web systems are sufficient vs. no best practices on what to measure in social  environments.

•  Current  web  usage  analysis  tools  are  “good  enough”  vs.  social  network  analysis  tools  are  needed  (but  not mature).

People in Userland

Early adopters are essential.  Make it easy to use. Pitfalls to avoid are actually trying to mimic Facebook inside the firewall – this confuses people. Instead build communities, bring people together as Profiles, based on their need to collaborate and share expertise.

Plan

Plan + Legals & Governance – do it upfront, or pay later. We know this – why do people forget it?!

Platforms

One thing the Burton Report shows very clearly is that platforms are coming to the fore. Lotus Connections, Microsoft’s SharePoint and Jive Clearspace at the fore.

Conclusion

I think CIO’s conclusion is too negative. We are still at the watershed however and which way the current flows is still undecided.  From what I’m seeing in the UK, there’s a great deal of interest in the Enterprise Social Network, but equally the confusion and suspicion Burton has identified also prevail. There’s also an ascendancy of SharePoint here. Almost whenever social media comes up in any of the major career sites, it’s SharePoint MOSS that’s cited as the platform being used. This may have interesting consequences for the UK. Take for example Thomas Vander Wal’s SharePoint 2007: Gateway Drug to Enterprise Social Tools:

SharePoint has value, but it is not a viable platform to be considered for when thinking of enterprise 2.0. SharePoint only is viable as a cog of a much larger implementation with higher costs.

If this becomes the de facto E 2.o platform in the UK, will the ‘larger implementation’ ever really succeed?

Footnote

This list of benefits is one I personally am going to learn off by heart!

•  We need to connect people globally.

•  We need to address generational shifts.

•  We need to break down barriers.

•  We need to “know what we know.”

•  We need to collaborate better.

•  We need to innovate from the bottom up.

•  We need to learn differently.