It's time to seriously think about what we're measuring

By Bertrand Duperrin posted 06-25-2010 12:33


One of the lessons from the last Enterprise 2.0 conference was the new focus on metrics and business processes. The reason is quite simple : many of enterprise 2.0 successful early adopters started with the assumption that this was the way things should be so their point was not to know why to change but how to get rid of their past unproductive situation. Now that enterprise 2.0 is becoming more mainstream, companies of all kind from different industries and different cultures are showing interest but they are waiting for the social media world to speak their languages and address their concerns :

- measurement because this is what demonstrates if something is worth or not

- business process because this is how work is done (let me add that business process does not mean rigidity, they can be either rigid or flexible even if many people only consider the first option).

The consequence is that we can't afford anymore to overlook the measurement issue or, to be more precise, we should focus on measuring what matters. When you talk with believers, you only need "parachute indicators" : they must exist just in case but no one seriously think of using them once the project is started. When you talk "common" people, you need metrics that work and will be observed every day.

There are many differences between these two kinds of indicators, the main being that most of times the ones are about activity and  the others about business results. The first kind of company are happy to have vibrant and active communities, the others want to be sure their operations will significatively improve.

As Rex Lee explained it in brilliant post :

Enterprise 1.0, would suggest that only specialized, trained individuals with the resources knew how to find pearls (i.e. where to dive, specialized equipment, knowledge on how to abstract the pearl from the shelled mollusk, etc.)

Enterprise 2.0 suggests that we can simplify and remove some of the "specialization" barriers to enable more people to search for pearls.

?Enterprise 2.1 would suggest that rather than "serendipitously" finding pearls, that we coordinate our efforts to actually create pearl farms.


That's all the difference between building communities and improving business processes through social interactions.

So what should be measured then ? When somethings aims at improving business processes, traditional indicators are perfect to show if things really improve and refine what socializing in such a context means in order to get concrete results.

Enterprise 2.0 for sales people for instance ? Shorter sales cycles, faster ramp-up for new employees, more cross-selling etc... ? If yes that ok. If not that does not mean that social media has no value but only that it's not used in the right way. But let's be sure it won't be easy to convince anyone with a little common sense that a change that does not improve any business indicator is worth.

Even the qualitative side of social media (engagement, fun and...) has side effects that can be measured...and in many companies the qualitative side won't come before adoption happens for quantitative reasons.

I agree this will be much more touchy than building active communities (but not harder or easier) but this is the only way for enterprise 2.0 to become adult.

I also think that new relevant business indicators have still to be found because in a changing economy there are things that are not worth being measured anymore and some that used to be overlooked and need to be measured now.

Enterprise 2.0 is becoming mature and credible...and that means that the hardest part of the work is ahead.

#enterprise2.0 #businessprocess #indicators #businessprocessoptimization #measurement #e2conf