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Organizations often measure the effectiveness of social software solution deployments in terms of user adoption levels. However, adoption does not measure frequency or consistency of use, nor does it link usage to performance improvement or business benefits. A more effective approach is to target major pain points within a company, determine how social software can help address them, and then carefully track the impact of deploying a solution. Therein lies a starting point for social analytics.


By Eric Openshaw and Jerry Belson

Barriers to successful deployment can arise in any of these situations. IT may stand in the way of expanding on the self-starting team’s efforts. The business unit leader’s ad hoc initiative could die of inertia. The senior executive’s mandate may be rolled out halfheartedly, its adoption limited by inadequate understanding of its purpose and a sense that it’s simply added work.

Various forces can drive adoption of social software tools. In some cases, the impetus is bottom-up. A team within the enterprise may take the initiative to deploy a solution that will help its members collaborate, perhaps doing so under the radar or despite an explicit prohibition by the CIO. In other cases, a business unit executive might attend a conference, find social software solutions interesting, and set out to apply one in his or her part of the business, or a senior executive may become enamored of a social solution and mandate its deployment across the enterprise.

Announcements in 2013 by two social software vendors provided evidence of the growing role of analytics in the effective use of these platforms. A new version of Jive provides reports designed to “pinpoint business areas that could be tweaked to advance the attainment of specific goals like hitting sales targets, enhancing onboarding of new employees, and sharpening customer service".  An upgrade to the IBM Connections enterprise social networking platform provides “new analytics features so that administrators can monitor usage, such as collaboration trends among employees and engagement with customers in social media services like Twitter and Facebook."

The dozens of social software tools available to help drive organizational improvement generally fall into two categories. Enterprise social network tools, such as Salesforce Chatter, Jive, Socialcast by VMWare, and Microsoft Yammer, are focused on finding and connecting people dispersed throughout the enterprise. Tools such as IBM Connections, Microsoft SharePoint, and SAPJam provide shared workspaces for workgroups and individuals to collaborate across an enterprise.

Garner estimates that, by 2016, 50 percent of large organizations will have internal Facebook-like social networks, 30 percent of which will be considered as essential as email and telephones are today.  Forrester  predicts that the market for social enterprise apps and related services will reach $6.4 billion in 2016.

The Uptake in Social Tools Continues