Yet the fact of the matter is that the people signing the cheques tend to be 1.0 thinkers. Those of us who want people to get people to buy this stuff have to be able to talk their language. And that’s “Value” and “ROI”.
I think most ROI discussions fail because people go straight to the ROI of their favourite social software platform in terms of the features and functions it offers, rather than deal with the underlying principles. At the heart of any social software ROI argument is the belief that your personal network is a powerful and valuable that helps you deliver more value to your company. More specifically in internal social software deployments we’re talking about your network inside your organisation. Forget software, forget IT, I’m just talking about your little black book of internal contacts, and that it adds value to your employer. If this point is not agreed, there is no way that a social software ROI case can be made. This has to be agreed upon before you go anywhere near software.
If this is agreed, then the question then becomes “how much”? Social software is simply an IT tool which helps you maintain business relationships which may otherwise lapse, and increase the number of relationships available to you. If you have already agreed that a personal network is a good thing it becomes easier (although not easy) to quantify the benefits of a tool to make the network “better” – namely social software.
“Social” software can get a bad press from line of business because work is not meant to be “social”. We have had conversations with clients who say “I don’t want to hear about social software, I want to know how an engineer in Argentina can find an engineer in Slough who can help with a customer situation”.
So move away from the ROI of “Social Software”, and instead when involved in ROI discussions you have to find out what the real problem is. Is it that they think that an employee’s network is not valuable, or do they need help in finding out just how valuable it is? They are two very different arguments and many ROI cases are not convincing as they fail to understand which they are supposed to be addressing.