Friday, 7th February 2014
By Richard Hare
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Enterprise social tools are different to business process tools, explains Richard Hare, and that's why the measures of effectiveness also need to differ in order to identify increases in connectivity, improved awareness, stimulated communication and better problem-solving.
A successful technical implementation may give you the social computing tool you've been coveting, but this is only the start of the social journey.
It is important when implementing any new tool to begin measuring its effectiveness from instant it is launched. The feedback you obtain will allow you to formulate a strategy which targets technical improvements while serving your users.
In the case of content and business process tools, this is relatively easy. Counting page views gives a simple indication of whether content is useful, while measuring the volume of transactions completed successfully and the time saved can indicate a business tool's contribution to organisational effectiveness.
The Problem with Social
Enterprise social tools are different. The promise of social computing is not in improving an existing process, but in increasing connectivity, improving awareness and stimulating communication.
This potentially enables ill-defined groups to collaborate in solving emergent problems.
Simply measuring quantity or throughput won't tell us whether social networks are forming or how information is moving through them. A page view count of zero will tell us that something isn't being used, but to understand a social network, we need to measure its growth and impact.
Measuring the Effectiveness of Social Networks
Having implemented a social tool, you want to measure its effectiveness.
Is the network growing and is information moving through it? Have there been any successful outcomes or does the network require additional stimulation?
Social Network Analysis (SNA) measures connection, distribution and segmentation.
Through SNA, you will start to understand who the influential network members are, if there are holes where parts of the network are completely isolated, where silos exist and who can potentially build bridges between them.
Graphical tools, like the open source Gephi, will help you create impressive visualisations of your network, showing where the silos are and where networks are less dense and may require more effort in engagement.
Unlike business process tools, social tools are not aimed at regularly repeating processes.
Successes come not at the predefined points in a project plan, but often as a result of unstructured interaction. Formal projects may result from these interactions - discussions on a online forum may trigger a formal project, for example.
It is these success stories you need to document, as they demonstrate the value and contribution of your enterprise social computing efforts.
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Editor's Note: The Social Enterprise
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Printed: Sunday, 27th September 2020
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