wow me with the wonders of web2.0
September 22, 2008 4:13 AM   Subscribe

collaborative tools, "web 2.0", community - evidence that the tech is really worth the price?

I want to propose the development (or adoption) of a set of intranet collaborative tools for my company that I think will support better communication, and knowledge persistence across work groups. I believe these technologies work, because I use them myself, but I want some hard evidence that supports that position.

Where can I find the hard evidence that online collaboration tools (i.e. web 2.0) actually increase knowledge transfer and productivity. Is it possible to calculate a ROI?

Also, I had read somewhere that only x% of site users create site content. Where can I find that finding?
posted by brandnew to Computers & Internet (6 answers total) 7 users marked this as a favorite
If you're trying to convince a corporation, I'd start with any of the numerous Gartner reports that speak positively about the subject. I don't put much weight in them myself, but CIOs love them.
posted by Jairus at 5:23 AM on September 22, 2008

I don't have any specific studies to point you too but a good term to start searching with is "Enterprise 2.0". There are whole blogs, conferences, and companies developing as a result of the movement of social media into the business world and you're bound to find something to validate this trend.
posted by genial at 5:52 AM on September 22, 2008

Dion Hinchcliffe has a lot to say on enterprise 2.0.
posted by [insert clever name here] at 6:36 AM on September 22, 2008

I don't know of any hard evidence about ROI, etc. for Web 2.0, but I think the "x% of site users create site content" information you're looking for is the 90-9-1 theory.

I can't remember where I first read about it, but sticking "90 9 1" into google throws up plenty about it, including this page which says:

"When studied, it was found that user participation generally follows a 90-9-1 Rule:

* 90% of users are "lurkers" (i.e. they read or browse but don't contribute)
* 9% of users contribute from time to time, but other priorities dominate their time
* 1% of users participate very often and account for most of the contributions"
posted by amcewen at 7:22 AM on September 22, 2008

I've spent a lot of time with customers and clients developing ROI models, most of which are really specific to the organizations that I was talking to, but there are a few general principles that I've seen be really useful in calculating ROI.

Web 2.0 tools are generally about collaboration and communication. You'll often find that one of the hardest parts to calculating ROI is that you have no idea what your current costs and inefficiencies are. For example, how much does it cost to fax stuff between offices? How many hours does your office lose to CC-all storms in email? What paper-based processes or phone-based processes would be better if they were searchable and archived like web communications is?

What you'll likely find is, your current bosses have no idea what those things cost. So you can say "Oh, this Web 2.0 software costs $x, and this consultant costs $y, and we'll save $z" and nobody would even be able to tell if that's good or bad.

So, the best way to start is probably not just by having an ROI calculator. Talk to the stakeholders, and understand where they want to see wins. If they've got a mandate to be more green, you could say "let's stop sending paper newsletters to all our branch offices and have a blog instead" and they'll eat it up. If they're trying to make sure you're SarbOx compliant, and your auditing team is having trouble finding documentation within the company, then focus on the benefits of having more searchable content. If it's expensive to train new employees, show your boss how using tags on content might make it easier for them to find relevant instructions themselves and reduce their training costs.

Also, I'd look at some relevant examples that already exist. As mentioned above, analyst groups like Gartner and Forrester do put together a lot of reports that, while often a little iffy in their sourcing, do a fantastic job of communicating authority and trust, and those things can be fantastically useful in making a case.

Now, with all that skepticism up front, these tools do work. I've seen many, many examples of very simple deployments of social media tools providing some measurable and dramatic results very quickly. If you'll indulge the self-link, some of the case studies that have resulted from that work are on the Movable Type site, and I think the Uniqlo, TBWA, Citrix, Casio and Denon examples are particularly relevant.

Feel free to drop me a line if you've got more questions... I'm not great at checking back on MeFi, but my email's in my profile.
posted by anildash at 9:24 PM on September 22, 2008

Oh, and I'd back up the general principles of 90-9-1 often hold true, but that's only because most tools have been organized around putting a giant white text area in front of users and expecting them to just know what to do. A lot of Web 2.0 tools are going to evolve towards capturing actions and more passive bits of interactivity, which means something as simple as uploading a file or adding a tag or sharing an image could count as "creating content", blurring the line between participating as an observer and being a commenter or even a creator. So that percentage breakdown is going to change very rapidly.
posted by anildash at 9:33 PM on September 22, 2008

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