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How to Measure Social Business ROI

There are businesses still mulling whether to use social networking software and build a better business collaboration platform for their employees.

Often they find themselves taking a back seat until they have a solid case as to why they should go ahead with this.

CISCO has come out with a good reason to build a case for better collaboration through great software.

A recent article by Oliver Marks titled Cisco Releasing Sophisticated Collaboration Framework to Accelerate Your Business Value reveals how the company used collaboration best practices to better their business growth and productivity while achieving a 900% ROI.

The article on the soon to be released report states :

“The Report, ‘Creating a Collaborative Enterprise: a Guide to Accelerating Business Value with a Collaboration Framework’, shows how their best practices saved them US$691 million and increased productivity 4.9 percent in fiscal year 2008 against technology investments costing US$81 million.”

Now of course, this was for CISCO ... and we are talking about the savings and productivity increase across a team of 80,000 employees.

But that doesn’t mean smaller businesses have nothing to gain from this.

In fact it’s a lot easier to implement collaboration best practices and create a better collaboration software platform within a smaller business with far less people that can be scaled as a business grows.

Another interesting point the article makes is the three important components that have to be considered while developing a collaboration framework for the business as one of these or some of these are often ignored:

Essentially, Cisco recommends organizations must carefully cultivate the three components of collaboration: people, processes and technology (something my colleagues and I have also been evangelizing for the last year).

Cisco’s collaboration framework prescribes three phases of collaboration: first investigative work, then performance process tuning and finally a transformation phase.

No matter how good the social business software platform is, unless the processes are aligned with the people and the technology, the results won’t be optimum. Once the processes have been identified and people are comfortable with the technology, things fall into place. It has been known for a while that social networks and online business collaboration platforms have been great tools for communicating better, having discussions, organizing events and projects but things often come down to the question of ROI. “What are the tangible returns financially of implementing this?” I think that’s what will be answered with facts and statistics in this upcoming report and provide answers to those still waiting for the answers. For now, with a company that could implement a framework with 80,000 employees and display the kind of productivity and savings figures CISCO has, I am convinced not many businesses should have doubts and stay left behind.

Tim Eisenhauer
Written by Tim Eisenhauer

Tim is president and co-founder of Axero Solutions, a leading intranet software vendor. He's also a bestselling author of Who the Hell Wants to Work for You? Mastering Employee Engagement. Tim’s been featured in Fortune, Forbes, TIME, Inc Magazine, Entrepreneur, CNBC, Today, and other leading publications.

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