Social business is maturing and becoming part of the mainstream tool belt of many companies, yet success is still elusive for many. A recent article in PC World titled Many employees won’t mingle with enterprise social software states that the lure of an Enterprise Social Network (ESN) is often unrealized. The article also suggests that 70-80% of companies who are implementing an ESN are struggling with them. It goes on to list several reasons for this. They also include a decent case study from GE to demonstrate the success that can be achieved. However, I feel the article is too specific, leaving the reader to extrapolate how this applies to them.
In the social business arena, many strategists and practitioners have learned to dance very well. Usually they do their best moves when asked, “What’s the ROI of Social Business?” From industry experts, to vendors, to practitioners you hear lots of soft benefits from people when asked this question. Often, you hear some broad sweeping general statement such as Find experts faster or Improve innovation. I’ve written in previous posts that these terms are mostly jargon that must be demystified to be understood.
Another approach to estimating ROI is to look at the social media tool in use and suggest the value is people are logging on and participating. Another area of confusion is the topic of “engagement“. This term has been used for years to describe workers who are “fully involved in, and enthusiastic about their work.” But somewhere along the way it’s been repurposed to mean “contributor” by the social business crowd. These definitions are completely different and can cause great confusions inside of companies.