Was at the Web 2.0 Strategies forum today and took part in a social software ROI discussion. The discussion wandered quite easily onto the ROI of blogging or the ROI of wikis, and the features and functions of the tools. This has never really helped develop the ROI case for Web 2.0 or Enterprise 2.0 and didn’t in this case. It got more interesting when we turned our attention to a problem that Web 2.0 could solve (maybe using blogs or wikis).
For example, if a software company has a problem where support calls cost too much, a wiki may be a good tool to lower the cost of fielding support calls. Jive Software recently quoted an organisation where phone support cost the organisation $12 per incident, whereas wiki support cost $0.25. A wiki therefore supports the ROI case for the reducing the cost of providing support – there’s no ROI for the wiki in it’s own right. It’s just that organisations that adopt Enterprise 2.0 can improve the ROI’s on many different projects.
The conclusion I took away was that ROI only makes sense when applied to a specific business problem – then you piggy-back on the ROI of that business problem, rather than trying to make a generic ROI case for widespread wiki, blog, or social software adoption.