Metrics are the key to driving end user adoption. Unfortunately, social collaboration has an analytics gap.
This is not to say that there aren't tools out there for capturing and measuring social platform data. There are many.
They vary from deeply technical social graphing and visual networking analysis solutions, such as Gephi, Centrifuge, Social Network Visualizer (SocNetV) and NetMiner. And there are also the more consumer-friendly tools that capture data from the popular social networking sites and package the results in easy-to-decipher reports, such as SproutSocial, SimplyMeasured and Klout.
But what this wide range of tools highlights is the huge gap between what is used for scientific and research purposes, and those that are positioned more for individuals, and mostly consumer-based analysis. At the center of that gap: the enterprise.
Gaps within the “Social Organization”
Many of the platforms we use for enterprise collaboration (SharePoint, for example) contain the data we need to identify, track and measure end user usage patterns, but the problem is that few of us have taken the time to figure out how to compile those metrics. We track basic measurements: number of posts, number of comments and number of "Likes," but we do not take the next step of trying to understand how these statistics affect collaboration.
Managers who own the success of collaboration across their organizations know this intuitively, yet they rarely go beyond the out-of-the-box data points and leaderboards that come with any social collaboration solution. There is very little visibility into what people are doing, and much less data on why they are doing it.
SharePoint provides many data points, capturing details about each social interaction (content access, content shared, status updates, etc), but does not provide a simple, out-of-the-box method for presenting this data to administrators. With the platform’s broad feature set, the complexity of its data, and the customizations required to access and report on this data, few organizations have taken the steps to pull this data out of the platform in a way that can help them improve key social collaboration metrics.
Yammer has the opposite problem: an easy to use and understand interface and a comparatively simple feature set, but it lacks the depth in the data from which to build these same metrics. Even when paired with SharePoint Online, which is the version of SharePoint available through the Office365 platform, Microsoft has simplified the reporting and analytics available through their tools rather than use the pairing as an opportunity to provide a federated view of social activities across Yammer and SharePoint.
The danger with not being able to measure and adequately manage the social activities within the enterprise is that administrators have no way to determine which features, which teams or which collaboration initiatives have been successful. As a result, many organizations will find their end user engagement gains temporary, as users very quickly move past the novelty of anything new if it does not also bring perceived value.
A key to success in enterprise social has been to align social activities with specific business activities -- for example, incorporating polling, threaded messaging and ratings systems common in most enterprise social platforms into the product development processes, allowing the extended team to provide input into the identification and prioritization of features in a company’s product roadmap.
While there are certainly ample scenarios for ad hoc, or unstructured collaboration activities (community building, idea creation), many organizations are recognizing their need for a more robust, structured collaboration model around their social activities. In other words, the ability to be “social” within the context of common enterprise workloads -- such as records management, customer relationship management (CRM) or human resources-related activities.