The ROI of +1

When considering social business, most companies will at some time try to address the issue of “Return on Investment”. I’ve worked with many companies who have achieved “hard dollar” results. Some have realized great results in cutting costs and others by bringing in new revenue or opening new markets. While these are awesome reasons for a company to adopt social, we have to remember that the core of adoption is the individual. So ROI often starts with the answer to the personal question of, “Why is social good for me?”

One of the least considered but often most personally appreciated is what I call “the ROI of +1″.

Many of us are involved in decision making and reviews that involve a team of people. Years ago when I was selling document management solutions, we used workflow solutions to achieve this type of collaboration. Interesting enough we started with sequential routes (one approver after another), but that only mimicked the paper based “interoffice email” we were trying to address. Being digital, it cut down on the time spent in route, but it didn’t really change anything significant. So we went to parallel routes, where you could send the information to the entire team at one time and they would individually do their review or make comments. That solution reduced the time to decision which resulted in more efficient processes. Oddly enough, this is the exact method many of us use today when we send information or a document to an email list for review or comment.

But let’s think about that for a moment. If you’re like most, you’ve been on a review distribution list and received a document or some information for your review and comments. You take the time to read the information and invest your time and efforts in crafting a response. For this example, let’s say you spend 20 minutes in reply. Then you send or submit your thoughts. In the next check of your email in-box you find the results of other’s comments and views. Interestingly, one of the other team members have mentioned the very items you flagged and their ideas are right in line with what you have suggested.

What if you had seen their comments first? You’re reply could have been a simple, “I agree with what Mary said.”, thereby saving yourself 20 minutes. Additionally, Mary’s comments might have offered you a new perspective on your original thought. Using an email method, that would call for a reply all. Multiply that by the number of people on the team equals a lot of individual emails bouncing around. Not to mention the time it takes for you to go “on and off” task to consider the subject each time a new email is received.

One approach to this would be the “wait and see” method. This is where you hope others comment first and you just wait until you receive their emails at which time you add your perspective…possibly saving yourself the effort. The problem with this approach is if everyone took this approach, nothing would get done.

Social business solves this by allowing you to participate in “open conversations”. The same process could have been done with a single blog/wiki post or maybe an activity event. The reviewers could be notified from the post itself and their comments or suggestions would be instantly displayed with the post. So if you see someone else’s comments that reflect your opinion, your response is a simple “+1″. You’ve saved your time and also acknowledged your support for your like-minded team member’s idea…win/win.

This social approach to team collaboration allows individuals to “follow” specific topics, documents or discussions. So you don’t have to keep returning to the source to see if anything has changed. The social system will automatically alert you to changes or new postings. That way, you can stay on whatever task is at hand knowing that you’re not missing any happenings related to your team review efforts.

I know a company can take a guess at how much time this might save the organization (number of reviews X number of participants X repetitive work X avg. hourly cost of resource X etc.). It’s been my experience that social business usually far exceeds numerically derived expectations. Something as little as “+1″ can revolutionize the culture of your team’s collaboration. It saves your time. It affirms other’s ideas and efforts. It’s just one of social’s “low effort/high impact” benefits.

IBM Connections is the market leader in revolutionizing the collaboration culture of organizations, but more importantly, it can provide YOU with the tools you need to be creative, stay connected and exercise your choice in your daily work life. Check it out…and if you like what you see, +1.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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