Set the Needle, and Watch It Move


Last Friday,John Hagel, the New York Times bestselling author of Power of Pull and founder of Deloitte’s Center for the Edge, gave a “fireside chat” to the Bay Area TEDx group on “Measuring the Impact of Collaboration”.  As the title of his talk indicates, many of the lessons focused on collaboration, however the key driver behind his examples was that organizations need to think about business goals and metrics before jumping in.

Metrics that Matter
Rather than entering social through an ad-hoc or under the radar approach, organizations should take a step back and think about how social technologies can help achieve and improve current business metrics.  Often these metrics vary by audience, but broadly speaking, the three outlined are: Financial (C-Level), Operational (Mid-Level) and Performance (Field).

Think about what KPIs (Key Performance Indicators) within your organization can be improved by having frictionless two-way communications between those parties, and that’s where social can have the greatest impact.

Social Media is about Change Management not Technology
As social becomes more accepted as a form of communication integral to doing business, we need to begin recognizing that social technologies, when done right, can change the internal workings of an organization.  Eleftherios Hatziioannou, Social Media Manager formerly of Mercedes-Benz, recently said that “social media flips organizations upside-down”.  There’s a hyped-up piece to this, if we’re just talking about “going viral on Facebook”, but it becomes real when social technologies tie directly into business objectives.

To illustrate organizational metrics as a reason for social, John provided a case study in which a Municipal Transit Authority had asked his team to come in for a social media assessment.  Essentially, they were looking to put together a social media strategy that would integrate the usual suspects (Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, YouTube, etc.).  After understanding the core business, the team recognized that the part of the business that could have the greatest impact through social was not this external facing piece.  Rather it was internally focused between mechanics and bus drivers.

Buses were coming in, and mechanics were taking a long time to find parts because of a lack of collective knowledge.  The Deloitte team implemented a simple internal forum that helped mechanics across the region collaborate to gain access to parts faster while keeping buses on the road until the parts were readily available.  Having defined the organizational metrics (opportunity cost of buses off the road, time spent working on a vehicle, cost of finding parts, etc.), the Transit Authority could see the impact of social and actually measure it by watching the needle move along these factors.

Quick steps:

  1. Define your current business objectives in terms of relationships (for example, mechanic to mechanic, supplier to distributor, customer to retail, etc.)
  2. Reflect on how communications within and between those relationships can improve through social technologies
  3. Start with an easy, but impactful initiative that can demonstrate results
  4. Watch the needle move on the metrics you set

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