The Business Value of Social Software by Luis Suarez
We all know that plenty of people nowadays are trying to figure out what is the main business value and various benefits of using social computing within the enterprise. Yes, the good old Return On Investment (a.k.a. ROI) conversations for Social Software that I like to talk about so much lately. Well, here is another blog post to share some further insights on the topic. This time around sharing a personal story on how I am benefiting from social computing myself and how, as a result of that, IBM itself benefits from it as well (I would hope).
January 2004, I experienced what some folks would know as a serious wake up call in my life. One of those times we all get to go through, once in a lifetime, where we need to pull back, think about things that *really* matter to us, make the right decisions, re-engage back and move forwards. Yes, I know, one of those wake up calls…
Back then I was heavily involved for a while already with social software, although mostly behind the firewall. Yet, I knew that it may have well been *my* moment to prove the business value of social networking within the corporate world. I decided to approach both my local resource management team, as well as my, at the time, project manager and ask them whether they would allow me to work remotely from another country, in this case, Spain, my home country.
And while I do realise that perhaps not many companies out there are ready for such somewhat difficult decision to make, specially from a business perspective, the answer I got back was a loud and clear "Yes, Luis, as long as your perform the way you have all along". To which I said, "Of course, no problem! I can do that!"
From there onwards, a couple of weeks later, I moved back to Spain, to Gran Canaria, to be more precise, where I have been living, and working remotely, ever since. And this is where social computing kicks in, because right then I realised that if I wanted to make it work in my new situation I needed to be out there: visible; easy to reach and connect with; always willing to help and share my knowledge with those who needed it (And with those who may need it at a later time, too!) in an open and public way; willing to share my expertise, experience and know-how across the board with those who I know, and those who I may not know yet; willing to feed those resources with knowledge and expertise that otherwise would have remained in my own head, or my computer, for that matter, and therefore with very little access for others to enjoy.
Thus, as you can imagine, I increased even more my already heavy presence in the social software spaces, both inside AND outside the firewall, and that only meant that more information and knowledge from myself became available to others and, hopefully, some of that knowledge was helpful to them as well. That good old "Knowledge is power" suddenly transformed itself into "Knowledge shared *is* power" and lo and behold five years later, still going strong.
Yes, that’s right, today, March 17th, 2009, San Patrick’s Day, marks the 5th year I have been relying on social software to keep me employed with what I consider still my dream job at such large corporate environment as IBM’s, where both of my managers are thousands of kilometers away from me, yet, through the daily usage of social networking tools I know they are just an interaction or two away from me (In most cases even just a single tweet!)
I can imagine plenty of folks out there would be questioning whether I would have been able to make the same move without social software and work in such extreme virtual environment without it and relying on more traditional collaboration and knowledge sharing tools. To which I could probably confirm that I wouldn’t have been able to. Five years afterwards, I am 100% sure of it!
So what is the ROI of this, my personal, story?, you may be wondering, right? Well, perhaps that engaging with social software, embracing a new model of collaborating and sharing my knowledge (Much more open, transparent and public than ever before, ever since I decided to live "A World Without Email") with other fellow knowledge workers has allowed me to prove the point that you can work wherever you want, whenever you need, and with whoever you would want to reach across, depending always on the context, by making extensive use of social software and forgetting about measuring people just by their sheer presence versus their overall performance and results obtained. That is what social software has done not only for me, but also for the company I work for…
5 years on and still going strong! That is, to me, the real ROI for Social Software, both inside and outside of the enterprise world. But how about you? What’s your personal ROI story?
I would love to hear your thoughts plenty more over here or elsewhere. But, for now, time to go and celebrate San Patrick’s Day at my favourite Lebanese restaurant downtown (Beirut), and then, of course, off to the pub!
Tags: Enterprise 2.0, Social Software, Social Networking, Social Computing, Social Media, Collaboration, Communities, Learning, Knowledge Sharing, KM, Knowledge Management, Remote Collaboration, Innovation, IBM, Networking, Social Networks, Conversations, Dialogue, Communication, Connections, Relationships, email, Productivity, Re-purposing Email, No-Email, Challenge Your Inbox, Progress Reports, Thinking Outside the Inbox, Information Overload, Return On Investment, ROI, Gran Canaria, Spain, Virtual Collaboration, Virtual Teams, Responsibility, Ownership, Involvement, Commitment, San Patrick’s Day, St. Patrick’s Day, Beirut, Lebanese Food, Work Life Balance, WLB, Balance, Priorities, Life, Work