Show Me The Money: One Reason For Enterprise Social Failure

Show Me The Money: One Reason For Enterprise Social Failure

Businesses are consumed with ROI, always concerned about the profitability of any business decision or investment, and rightfully so. Though most executives understand the benefits of enterprise social networks (ESNs)–productivity, engagement, on and on–those are intangible advantages and challenging to quantify in ROI or similar figures. As a result, companies are struggling to justify the expenses of purchasing, investing, and driving adoption of ESNs without proof of such tools driving profits. To be fair, it is challenging to measure the impact of internal social using traditional measurements–which is why the right monetary-related goals and objectives need to be established for ESNs from the beginning.

Let’s be clear, ESNs do and will impact the bottom line.

However, how they are measured and how companies manage their expectations often cause ESNs to fail because of missing the financial mark. Why? Three core reasons:

Enterprise Social Success Is Not (Always) Defined By Financial Results

Companies generally talk in terms of sales figures and profit margins–not in terms of number of posts and active groups. However, the measurements of ESNs today don’t necessarily follow the traditional business language. Social business is still a new and emerging area, so metrics are still maturing as technology is evolving. Few dispute the positive impact ESNs have on increasing collaboration, strengthening communication, and facilitating cross-geography work, but those advantages are difficult to calculate in hard and fast numbers. For now, anecdotal evidence is often the strongest evidence of an ESNs’ financial impact, such as proof that connections made, introductions facilitated, and information shared helps close deals, finish client deliverables, etc. As those examples become more commonplace, ways to monetize that impact will surely follow. Currently, companies that want numbers to illustrate ESN results may have to use creative, not-always-scientific methods, such as engagement surveys or rough calculations on time saved.

Top 5 Reasons Enterprise Social Initiatives FailFree Download: Top 5 Reasons Enterprise Social Initiatives Fail

In this download, you will find the following information:

  • The most common reasons enterprise social initiatives fail and what you can do to avoid them
  • Enterprise social initiative best practices
  • What we have learned from delivering several successful enterprise social initiatives at our clients

Lack Of Connection To Key Business Objectives

For enterprise social networks to make the maximum contribution to business success, they need to be connected to key business objectives–whether quarterly or annually. Without being tied to the current focus areas of teams and executive leaders, ESNs will lose relevance and be largely ignored. If they are not a critical part of business processes, ESNs will be unable to contribute significantly to financial results. By being mapped to supporting specific, client-facing goals, companies will better prove the value to of ESNs to employees and promote usage across departments. Business objectives are largely, if not always, tied to increasing revenues and profits.  If ESNs are seen as integral to goals that Wall Street is watching in annual reports, they will easily demonstrate their worth when those objectives are attained.

Focus On Long-Term Gains, Not Short-Term Strides

Enterprise social networks will not solve all your problems (unfortunately) right away. It takes time for ESNs to gain traction inside even the most technologically advanced companies. Like other social tools, ESNs represent a completely new way of working–as well as ways of tracking and measuring work. In order to accurately and appropriately measure progress of ESNs, businesses need to reframe their perspectives to concentrate on long-term achievements and not only short-term strides. Though ESNs make quick wins possible, the true value will come as ESNs are fully integrated into everyday workflows and such a transition requires a longer timeline. As a result, business leaders used to seeing almost immediate profit turnarounds from investments will need to make their performance expectations more realistic because of the workforce transformations that must occur.

One of the top reasons enterprise social networks fail is because they do not deliver financial results, or at least the financial results businesses expect right now. However, ESNs offer immense value that can eventually be measured–businesses need to adjust their thinking to determine the correct metrics, reflect the right financial objectives, and extend their success timelines. By taking these three factors into consideration, businesses mitigate the risk from initial financial performance struggles and ESNs have greater chance to thrive and contribute to companies–making more money in the long-term.

To see previous posts in the series 5 Reason Enterprise Social Initiatives Fail click below:

Why Enterprise Social Network Pilots Don’t Take Flight

Context, Key To Enterprise Social Success (a.k.a. Why most social initiatives fail)

The Importance Of An Enterprise Social Strategy: Are You Driving Blind Through Social? 

The Missing Part Of Your Enterprise Social Network: Executive Support