"Your ROI argument is tied to how you expect to deploy the software," Cannell says. "Sure, you can focus on things like how many people sign up and post, and that's OK. But if you focus on the individual deployments and making employees actually like the tool, then more relevant metrics come into play."
Some of these more difficult-to-measure metrics may include things like handling more work with fewer people, streamlining processes and spending less time on trivial things like searching an intranet for an answer to a question.
"You might not be able to anticipate what some of the most important benefits might be, but you can get the business to express them more broadly after they've gone through it," Cannell says.
At TD Bank Group, one of the most significant ROIs was realized with its deployment of an IBM solution to 50,000 users: Some business units saw a drastic reduction in email, by as much as 40 to 1, according to Wendy Arnott, TD Bank's vice president of social media and digital communications.
3. Don't Underestimate the Power of Executive Support
Gaining executive buy-in and using their participation in the enterprise social network to set an example for the rest of the company is essential to the success of the project, Cannell says. But this can be challenging.
"If you're starting small and building the system out, these projects don't usually start out as a big line on an exec's radar," he says. "But business execs need to understand the goals and support them. Senior management is key to motivating people to participate in these communities," he says.
At Rosetta Stone, for example, CIO Pradeep Mannakkara had full support from executives when he deployed Salesforce's Chatter tool.
When Mannakkara pitched the project to the executive team, he focused on it as a communication tool that would achieve better productivity. He highlighted how employees wanted to hear more from the executive team, and this was an easy way to get the job done.
"Plus, part of it is just having executives get exposure to the technology and others who have seen it work," he says. "Then they're not as afraid of the technology."
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