ROI: Return on INNOVATION!

ROII recently attended a technology symposium featuring an enterprise collaboration software suite. The audience was composed of Information Technology (IT), business analysts, industry consultants, media, and executives across industries. The common thread among attendees was the fact that they were using the collaboration suite or were interested in implementation.

In addition to the software vendor, there were user panelists from a pharmaceutical company, a legal research database provider, and a plastic manufacturing company. All three had implemented enterprise social networks within the last year or two. Several questions came from the audience as to implementation, integration, security, stakeholders, rollout, support and maintenance. However, the most vigorous and inquisitive discussion was focused on the buying process surrounding the purchase and adoption of enterprise social networking software services in the “cloud”.  

Almost everyone wanted to know who comprised the selection committee and how a relatively “new” technology was introduced and socialized within large enterprises. Without exception, the answer from all industry panelists focused on the growing need to connect employee teams across time zones, cultures, divisions, and enterprise silos. The aforementioned barriers are all classic enterprise challenges faced for decades. However, the game change is the new paradigm of “networked” employees outside and inside the enterprise. The introduction of Facebook™, Instagram™ and other social media platforms has transformed the workforce and requires a whole new set of rules. The classic metrics of productivity gains and return on investment (ROI) are being replaced by more qualitative measures like improved client retention and employee intellectual leverage (aka problem solving).

One vivid example was an insurance claims department which was able to “problem solve” a claim question in almost real time with the customer stranded by the side of the road by polling other enterprise employees using an enterprise social platform to get an answer about coverage and reimbursement immediately. Therefore, the outcome was positive and the customer was elated. How do you measure that in ROI?

The change in decision criteria is changing because enterprise decisions surrounding technology adoption is changing. Since many applications are migrating to the “cloud”, technology adoption is now more of a pay as you go versus purchase decision. Therefore, ROI (return on investment) albeit a valid analysis in the allocation of capital doesn’t really measure the benefits from implementation such as workflow efficiencies, improved customer service, industry goodwill, gained productivity through collaboration, and other metrics.

Without exception the panelists at the symposium made their adoption and purchase decisions on more qualitative analysis and not by using classic capital allocation analysis such as ROI.

What technology adoption decisions is your enterprise contemplating?

What are the criteria and measurement s you can use instead of ROI?

Who are the stakeholders in your organization who are potential selection committee members (i.e. legal, compliance, marketing, IT, administration)?

What are the criteria and measurement s you can use instead of ROI?

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