There are a few great enterprise social software resources online but Deloitte did a really fantastic job with their latest published document on social software for business performance. Here is a brief review of the document with a link to the source.

Deloitte recently put out a free report on Social Software for Business Performance which I highly recommend you read. I have to applaud Deloitte as this is probably one of the better reports on enterprise collaboration I have read in a while.

What I really like about the Deloitte report are two clear examples of business impact through enterprise collaboration. There are some great graphics and charts to help clarify concepts and ideas.  Examples used in the Deloitte report are for deployments among a few hundred employees never exceeding 305 users (from what I understood).

The report starts off with a section on defining success for the enterprise and rightfully points out that many companies today are focusing on adoption as a success metric instead of on actual business metrics.  Personally, I think that is a weak argument and akin to telling Twitter, "why are you judging success of the company based on how many users you have? Why don't you go make money instead?" True, adoption isn't a business metric but it's the starting point for how an organization is going to evolve and lead to viable business metrics. Everyone needs to drink the Kool-Aid first.

I do agree it's not a viable business metric to judge success of a deployment in the long run, but let's not assume that adoption is not important. It is doubtful that organizations are going to see any type of financial return anywhere near the first year of use. 

Deloitte also went on to explain operating metrics for employees, managers, and executives within the enterprise. I do think the visual is an ideal scenario; however, it's not always what I'm seeing in the in-depth case study series I have been putting together. At Penn State University, for example, the senior team was concerned about employee morale and communication. After around two years of deployment, financial metrics are still not being measured by the executive team. However, the business goals of improved company morale and commuication have been accomplished. 

ScreenHunter_01 Mar. 01 23.27.gif

Below you will see the approach that Deloitte came up with for a focused social software approach. This approach is simple to understand and grasp. However, the problem that I keep seeing is that companies do not really implement enterprise 2.0 in a linear fashion. Take Vistaprint, for example. Originally the wiki solution it deployed was designed to help bring new engineers on board. But soon afterwards, every department within the organization wanted to deploy its own wiki for its own needs.

This model doesn't allow for adaptability, in my opinion, and focuses too much on trying to push organizations along a step-by-step process for enterprise collaboration, which doesn't make too much sense. As friend and advisor Gil Yehuda points out, some organizations start these initiatives from IT and some from marketing. Others start from the top down while some start from the bottom up.

I definitely think Deloitte did a great job with their model, but, again, I don't see room for adaptability. Furthermore, I believe the process should start from a business problem, not from an opportunity. Identifying new opportunities usually comes about after a business problem is being solved and organizations see how these solutions can be applied to other areas.

Intuit is a great example. It originally deployed its Brainstorm platform to help solicit employee feedback and ideas. However, recently a new opportunity was identified around conferences. Customers of Intuit are using the platform to design their ideal user conference for Intuit and employees are being matched with relevant topics against which they can present. 

ScreenHunter_02 Mar. 01 23.31small.gif

Perhaps the part of the report that may be most interesting from a business metric perspective are the following two charts, both showing how deploying enterprise collaboration tools have affected business performance.

In the first chart, we can see how wiki creation has decreased the amount of people hours needed for compliance-related issues.

ScreenHunter_03 Mar. 01 23.49small.gif

In the second chart, we can see how deploying Socialtext has improved the average resolution time for OSIsoft by 22%. It is possible that other factors affected the results for both Alcoa and OSIsoft, as the authors of the report acknowledge.

ScreenHunter_04 Mar. 01 23.50small.gif

There have been numerous other studies that show how enterprise collaboration affects business performance. Overall, the report is a huge step in the right direction, but, of course, there is always room for improvement. There is plenty of content in the report that I didn't cover here, such as the great breakdown of the five unique capabilities of social software.