If you measure it, they will come!

Practical approaches to intranet and enterprise social metrics

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It’s always much easier to talk about measuring the value of technology investments when you are talking about systems such as general ledger or accounts payable – where the value can be measured in terms of improving a business process. It’s not nearly as easy when it comes to talking about the value of your intranet or enterprise social investments.

I’ve talked about “squishy” metrics before in this blog – on July 11, 2014, when I posted the chapter I wrote for Prove It! Using Analytics to Drive SharePoint Adoption and ROI. In this post, I’d like to share an update to my original post on metrics, this time focused on demonstrating the business value of investments in enterprise social. In a recent post on the European SharePoint Conference blog, I took some poetic license with a popular song by Meghan Trainor and pose that when it comes to enterprise social, it’s not All About That Bass - it’s all about that case — the business case, that is.

The business value of enterprise social does not happen by magic. To get the benefit of social technologies, organizations need to transform their culture and processes to create an environment of openness and trust. More importantly, however, organizations must establish a clear relationship between the use of social technologies and the business challenges of the organization. In other words, no matter how you look at it, it’s all about the [business] case.

Along with my recent blog post, I’d also like to share an outstanding research note published last month by Martin White, Managing Director of Intranet Focus Ltd, and superstar guru of enterprise search. Martin has written a brilliant overview of intranet metrics approaches in a note called Intranet Metrics – Discovery, Satisfaction and Impact. In the research note, Martin has compiled references to a comprehensive collection of research papers and books about usability and metrics as well as a way of thinking about intranet assessments in a way that aligns with concepts drawn from education. Martin talks about summative assessments, intended to look at student attainment at a point in time, and formative assessments, which look at the thinking, achievement, or progress of students. In the world of intranets, he notes that measures such as the number of unique users and the number of pages being published or downloaded are summative measures. A formative assessment or measure would define performance goals for a period of time (e.g. 6 months) and looks at whether the trends of the previous 6 months are such that these objectives can be attained. This approach may be a little too “academic” (literally) for some – but it aligns very nicely with what I typically call system metrics (things that you can count like the number of users or the number of downloads) and business value metrics (such as improving the number of contracts processed or proposals written or reducing the amount of time to complete a successful customer service call) to provide a full picture of key elements of a good measurement program. One of my favorite parts of the research note is the first appendix, in which Martin lays out a very clever intranet user survey framework that I think a lot of people will be able to leverage – including me!

Measurement is critical for successful intranets and enterprise social technologies. Meaningful results are demonstrated by business use case measures that solve meaningful business problems. These two articles should provide a great start for your intranet and enterprise social metrics program.

If you want to continue the discussion about intranet and enterprise social metrics, please join me at one of two upcoming conferences. On August 25, 2015, I’ll be talking about metrics at SPTechCon in Boston. On October 12, 2015, I’ll be doing a similar presentation at UnityConnect in Amsterdam. Discount codes for both conferences are available on my website.

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