Enterprise social networks – Part 2 Measuring success

by | Feb 25, 2018 | Collaboration, Digital workplace

Following on from a consideration of ESN good practice in Part 1 the question that then needs to be answered is how far is your organisation away from good practice.  A feature of the ESN landscape is the way in which a number of benchmark tools are emerging. The most visible of these is SWOOP, an Australian company with a background in social network consultancy. The company has developed a maturity framework around Platform Adoption, User Engagement, Connecting, Sharing, Solving and Innovating, though these headings do not do justice to the depth of analysis offered for (at present) Yammer and @Workplace. The approach is based on the ICUP (Impact, Connectedness, User Engagement, Platform Adoption) framework developed by Siemens in the launch of its TechnoWeb social network.

Alexander Richter1, Julia Heidemann, Mathias Klier and Sebastian Behrendt at the Universities of Munich and Regensberg presented a paper at 11th International Conference on Wirtschaftsinformatik in 2013 which exemplifies the benefits of academic research linked into practical testing. Their approach is focused on business value and in the paper they provide a detailed assessment of some other approaches that have been developed. From this analysis they present a case-based approach which covers seven important elements  for collaboration (search, edit, rate, label, clarify, notify, and share) and also the dimensions of usage and business value.

Last year Joschka Hullman used elements of the SWOOP platform and a more rigorous integration of the elements of social network analysis to develop a way of measuring the social capital of an ESN. His thesis provides not only a very detailed account of his approach to this metric but also some insights into the SWOOP methodology that was used in the research. There is also a web site that illustrates the concepts from the thesis though the examples all date from 2016.

Another very good thesis published in 2017 comes from Katherina Wiesneth and is probably the most detailed analysis of the challenges and requirements so far published. This probably owes a lot to her supervisor Prof. Dr. Mathias Klier at the Institute of Technology and Process Management, University of Ulm, who has a special interest in metrics of information system applications. A theme of the thesis is a discussion of the similarities and differences between online social networks and enterprise social networks.

Another perspective on the enterprise use of social media can be found in the Deutsche Social Collaboration Studie 2017. The 24 page report presents the outcomes of a survey of over 1000 people on their attitudes to the use of social media, including ESNs. The respondents work for a wide range of German companies so it is a survey of individual, rather than corporate, attitudes, but does present a very interesting picture of trends in adoption and use. The report is in German.

All of these metrics methodologies are fairly labour-intensive. There is a parallel with enterprise search where there are usually no resources to track search use at the level of detail that is going to be of value to the organisation in terms of improved user satisfaction. In a recent CMSWire column I remarked on the way that employees found work-arounds to applications which were not delivering quality information. Several recent papers report on similar discoveries in the case of ESNs, of which probably the best was published by Jyoti Choudrie and Efpraxia D Zamani in 2016. Could this be happening in your organisation?

Martin White

Part 1 Establishing good practice  Part 3 Searching and profiling