10 Easy Steps to Social Business – Step 10: Show the Metrics of Value
How do you improve something? Draw a graph.
If you want to see how well you are doing, how something is improving or how far you have moved, put it in a graph. A picture tells a thousand words and so therefore putting the practice of business analytics to work in your social collaboration environment will help you see how your business is improving. Armed with statistics like these you can be sure any executive will want to hear from you.
On a project I was recently involved in we actively had to slow down the deployment of IBM Connections while it was still going through its early adopter phase. Using metrics we realized that the initial group of 25 users had quickly (in two days) grown to 40 users. Within a week we were at nearly 80 and after a month we had over 140 users of the system. That’s from an initial team of 25 people. Without this simple metric about the viral adoption of Connections we would not have been able to change our plans for adoption to more rapidly develop training materials. We also changed our plan to offer a “Welcome” community early in our plan rather than at the end.
Business Analytics has left the realms of statisticians and accountants. It is no longer the preserve of (just) your Financial Director. Instead, using metrics on your social collaboration you can unveil a wealth of information about the habits and requirements of your users.
Wouldn’t it be great to know which communities are never visited? Which parts of the Staff Handbook are never visited? What are people saying in comments about the company’s annual results? How does the number of tasks on this project relate to the last project we did like this? Who are the biggest contributors to the system?
This intelligence is the other side of your knowledge equation which forms by using social collaboration solutions. The inputs to the equation are the inate desire by people to do a good job and be social together with the knowledge they have in their heads which they can share with you – if you just know which question to ask. On the right hand side of the equation, the product, your organization gains explicit knowledge and intelligence. Knowledge and Intelligence – two words any chief executive officer would be interested in.
Desire to be social x social collaboration = explicit knowledge + business intelligence
In the latest release of IBM Connections 4, IBM has included a license to use Cognos BI for the purposes of analyzing the content of the Connetions environment. In doing so you can gain a great deal more than the “how many users do we have” statistic I was impressed with on my project. A BI platform like Cognos not only allows you to report on these statistics but also gain insight into the trends forming.
If you haven’t already looked at metrics as a way of measuring your social success I strongly encourage you to do so. It’s a dimension to your social collaboration efforts which moves it from knowledge management and capture to business strategy execution.
One of the many reasons I have heard about the reluctance of an organization to deploying a social collaboration platform is “someone might say something bad”. I confess to slapping my forehead (metaphorically of course) when a customer says this. This indicates to me that they have missed the point of being a social business in its entireity. How can you become a better place to work, a more productive organization, have more joined-up processes and exceed your customer’s expectations by burying your head in the sand when someone says something “bad”.
Why not instead consider Sentiment Analysis to analyze the expressed sentiments in your social system. Wouldn’t it be great if the product development people could get a sentiment analysis of the support requests your helpdesk guys were recording? By embedding social into your business processes in this way you are automatically adding the most valuable product development feedback you can get: the thoughts of your customers.
By now I hope you recognize that Step 10 of the 10 Easy Steps to Social Business is one of the most important steps of all. By MEASURING you can improve. By capturing, reporting, feeding back and analyzing what your people and your customers are saying you can become BETTER. According to the IBM Institute of Business Value, 53% of top performing organizations use insights to drive day-to-day operations.
Consider one last area in your measurement of your social collaboration. Predictive Analytics takes your data, applies a model to it and predicts the outcome. The sophistication of the model you apply allows you to be more accurate and confident about the prediction. If you could predict that a project being managed in an Activity in IBM Connections was going to run late, what would that be worth to your organization?
In my blog I have described how social collaboration can be applied to the Construction industry. Imagine if you could apply Predictive Analytics to the communications happening between two of the key players on that construction project when it runs in your social system? What could you predict by an unusual amount of communication between the client and the architect when the project is 80% done? An expensive change is about to be requested? There’s a problem with the overall design? Predict that kind of situation from your social collaboration system and you might just be able to stay in business in these tough economic times.
The 10 Steps to Social Business is a concept developed by IBM. This article was written by me, Alan Hamilton, with the permission of IBM.