Deloitte recently published an interesting report about their research on Social Business. It's titled: "Social software for business. The missing link in social software: Measurable business performance improvements". Some colleagues and I were interviewed for this report (when I worked for Oce) - see table on page 8. One of the reasons I wanted to participate was because this research was focused on truly measuring the impact of social software in organizations. We'd been rolling out social tools and using them widely. Also, we measure or tried to measure the value of these tools for business. We focused on two types of value. Value based on hard (analytics, increased productivity) and soft metrics (stories showing the value of these tools). We combined both because we knew that one can easily shoot holes in the 'hard' numbers. For instance you can wonder if the productivity increase is really due to use of social tools or did other factors (like organizational and cultural change) actually account for the increase?
Andy McAfee also relates to these issues when discussing this report. We need proof that social tools do improve business. Although many companies have been using these tools successfully, we are still learning what good these tools should and can bring. Measuring in terms of adoption is not enough, as the report says.
This reports points to several companies that focused less on adoption. They focused on operational pain points and tried to solve them with social tools. And these cases show that social tools did help here and did provide measurable and sustainable ("organize for the long haul", as McAfee says in this book Enteprise 2.0) performance increase. I think this relates well to what we've been discussing at the last Enterprise 2.0 Summit and my blogpost about this topic.
Alcoa and OSIsoft are the two cases. And I think Deloitte did a great job in showing they actually made long-term performance improvements. For instance by using a microblogging tool to decrease the issue resolution time.
With McAfee I'm greatful for this report. I hope many more will follow giving examples of others areas with dramatic improvement using social tools.
I wonder how you measure success in your social tool deployment. Please share your experiences in the comments section.