Social Media has gained most of its reputation from applications like Facebook and Twitter. Even though there is a value and place for it in the business setting, some leaders are still apprehensive about applying it in the business world. Some have not yet seen the value proposition that this kind of technology can bring to the workplace. Social Media presents two very interesting challenges:
1) How do you justify the use of those tools if there is nothing with which to compare, especially when some perceive that there is no difference from the functional activities perspective?
2) How do you create a compelling case and present an ROI of the technology when most of the benefits seem to be soft benefits?
The answer to both questions is the same. We cannot. This technology cannot be justified by the traditional methods because they require a new way of working and a new way of thinking.
"The art in justifying this new generation of tools is about how well they can qualify and quantify the value we put in the speed of transformation"
This new technology may respond to similar problems like its predecessors. It may address the same issues, but what we need to understand is that it also influences what is below the surface. This new way of working not only responds to the ‘what’—of the specific task—but also address the ‘how’—inviting people to behave differently. This technology can easily be embraced because it feels more like an interaction than a transaction, which might be what was lost in the past. If we think about tools like LinkedIn and how quickly it expanded, it is understandable, because it creates a virtual network of people interacting independent of their location, background, needs and wants. It is a place that brings people together for a mutual experience.If I am not looking for a job, I can see what is out there or post a job. I can endorse and get endorsed. I can post my thoughts and share my knowledge and receive comments or questions on my posting. It is a two way interaction that was not there before— or if it was, the mechanisms were slower and more technical. With tools like Facebook and LinkedIn, the door was opened for virtual interaction in a more human fashion.
From the financial perspective, many will agree that it makes sense and that it is the right thing to do. But the question is how you attach a value to it. This new way of working can save time and make us more effective. The art in justifying this new generation of tools is about how well they can qualify and quantify the value we put in the speed of transformation; the flexibility the tools can help us gain and adapt to market changes and new business imperatives; and how much it help us attract and keep our employees engaged and serve as a platform to promote our top performers. Social Media-based collaboration tools can become that springboard for some companies to make a quantum leap and elevate its competitive edge to the next level.