Story image

Where has all the Social gone...?

11 Aug 14

Do you wonder where all the interest in social went? Once the hottest trend since sliced bread, interest in social definitely dissipated.

Based on my client conversations and research, I surmise that because enterprise social networking tools could be used for so many purposes, their value seemed nebulous and elusive.

Advocates of social initiatives who wanted to ‘open up’ their organisations to a new style of working had trouble convincing the decision makers who held the purse strings that such investments would prove valuable.

Senior managers got hung up on asking for ROI or specifics on what savings they would realize if something that could be counted like phone calls, emails, or meetings were reduced.

This line of questioning misses two key points about social:

* Social is a style of working, not the endgame

* You can’t ROI the future

First, let’s look at social as a style of working. Workers don’t ‘hang out’ in enterprise social networks because they have nothing better to do. They use the tools if they see an improvement in how they get their work done.

All of the successful social initiatives we studied were developed for very specific, compelling purposes and make it easier for people to have the interactions necessary to complete their work better, faster, more easily, with less effort and the like.

All of the ‘it’s social so people will use it’ initiatives deployed with no specific purpose in mind became ghost towns or dating sites.

Second, trying to do ROI calculations on social initiatives is generally a waste of time. Yes, we need to be fiscally responsible and try to determine the business outcome or value from our investments. But the reality is that you can’t ROI the future.

By definition, if you are trying something that’s never been done before, you have no baseline to use for measuring ROI. And that’s the point. You should be trying something new and different when what you are doing now needs more than an incremental tweak – it needs a radical do over (or at least a do over).

The experiment – because that’s what it is – should be carefully planned and executed so that even if the results are less fruitful than you hoped, you can salvage the learnings to improve the odds of being more successful next time.

This is what people in the innovation business call ‘the freedom to fail.’

Enterprise social networking sites design to serve specific purposes like:

* improve knowledge reuse among call center workers so more calls get resolve with the first customer interaction, or

* speed up the sale reps’ ability to get an RFP response to a prospect so they can close more deals and help people get their work done.

No engaged employee has the time or desire to waste time on social systems that are pointless distractions. Unfortunately, few organisations realise exactly how much work employees carry out where interaction with colleagues is not just desirable, it is critical to completing the work.

This has to change. Otherwise, we’ll build digital workplaces that are just as ineffectual as the social media initiatives that preceded them.

Good luck...

By Carol Rozwell - Analyst, Gartner

NZ’s $3.45bil IT services market fueled by competitive advantage
"With regards to cloud adoption, organisations are prioritising innovation and security over cost and scalability.”
The secret to scaling DevOps in the digital era
"Organisations around the world have learnt at a cost that while agile DevOps methodologies can result in improved outcomes within teams and projects, they have a propensity to fail miserably."
APAC FinTech network launches to encourage cross-border innovation
Nine associations formally launched the network by signing a Statement of Intent at the Asian Financial Forum event in Hong Kong.
Avaya expands AI offerings with new partnerships
The additions to the ecosystem will enable Avaya to add prioritisation and natural language processing to its UC solutions.
Hillstone CTO's 2019 security predictions
Hillstone Networks CTO Tim Liu shares what key developments could be expected in the areas of security compliance, cloud, security, AI and IoT.
Kiwis make waves in IoT World Cup
A New Zealand company, KotahiNet, has been named as a finalist in the IoT World Cup for its River Pollution Monitoring solution.
Can it be trusted? Huawei’s founder speaks out
Ren Zhengfei spoke candidly in a recent media roundtable about security, 5G, his daughter’s detainment, the USA, and the West’s perception of Huawei.
SUSE partners with Intel and SAP to accelerate IT transformation
SUSE announced support for Intel Optane DC persistent memory with SAP HANA.