Social Media ROI and Strategy Alignment

I’m not sure that there are many answers — at least for our line of business — but these posts got me thinking about the value of some Enterprise 2.0 initiatives we’ll be kicking off shortly. 

Fluent Simplicity lays out the basic value/return problems here.  Social media initiatives often happen because everyone is doing them, and focusing on fads and fashion doesn’t make for long-term thinking (see my take on Tom Davenport’s pessimistic take on Web 2.0 here).  However, Enterprise 2.0 can’t be treated the same way.  Firms are reluctant to go “all-in” on social media because…

[f]or most organizations, this activity is not tied to strategic goals and is not adequately measured in a meaningful way. 

Frogloop has a ROI calculator (here) that got me thinking about how to build the business case for my initiatives.  I’m not sure how well I’ve thought through the intangible benefits (e.g., retention), which probably will have the biggest strategic impact.  I’ve been focused on the productivity and publicity gains only, which were simple.  A little more Excel modeling may be in order!

Hat tip: Mary Adams at IC Knowledge Center

Giving up on Web 2.0 as penance?

Tom Davenport‘s latest post (here) on Harvard Business Online channels the tone of today’s conventional wisdom.  Many commentators on the Panic of 2008 — including Davenport — are invoking the Great Depression and its harsh lessons.  I guess hairshirts and flagellant confraternities will be coming back next.

While I love mortification of the flesh as much as anyone, I think Davenport’s seriously off-track here.  He’s gone gloom-and-doom just as social media is doing some heavy lifting.  An example of Enterprise 2.0 traction, you say?  OK, what does it say when a guy like Michael Krigsman — who is on the IT Project Failures beat, for goodness sake – praises Enterprise 2.0 efforts from SAP (here) and Oracle (here)?

I hate to bad-rap a fellow Babsonian, but maybe Tom needs to get out of Starbucks more…

What is the deal w/ Technorati?

Does anyone have any idea what’s up w/ Technorati?  It seems like they’ve had recurring index, link, and authority update issues since the beginning of the year.  I’d like to rely on them — I see backlinks and other comments there I can’t see other places.

Also, I’m surprised Michael Krigsman hasn’t posted on them again.  I’m starting to wonder if they really did get to the bottom of what ailed them six months ago (Michael’s “kudos” post here).

Enterprise SW value, complexity, and R&D

Dennis Howlett’s extended response (here) to Vinnie Mirchandani’s post demanding more simplicity — or begging Steve Jobs to find it — in enterprise apps (here).  Dennis effectively boils down Vinnie’s argument to this:

Why is it that despite all the interest in SaaS and Enterprise 2.0 that the industry offers so very little apparent bang per buck for business as a whole?

Way too much to comment on comprehensively, but here are three:

  1. Behind the simplicity of iTunes lies the complexity of SAP ERP.   Every time you hit iTunes, you’re hitting SAP ERP.  Tell me again that the iTunes/iPhone model would work without ERP and that Apple’s not getting value out of its investment. 
  2. Enterprise software is modeling a business in real-time — a non-trivial, complex task that evolves in time.  Per Dennis’s comment about the process approach, once you try to take enterprise SW beyond implementing functions you’ve gotten into the business process management business whether you like it or not.
  3. Brian Sommer‘s comment is spot on: modern portfolio management is just getting introduced to the SW business.  Perhaps it should be a bit more ruthless.  Vampire/zombie projects, rampant cross-subsidization, and derivative products litter the R&D landscape in both commercial and in-house software development. 
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