The Business Case for Enterprise Social Bookmarking: $4.6 Million a Year in Cost Savings!
A couple of weeks ago, the amazingly talented Dion Hinchcliffe put together a blog post under the title of “The 2010 Social Business Landscape” that would probably classify as one of the most insightful, resourceful and essential articles published during the course of this year that everyone in the industry should be reading. Yes, in case you may not have seen it, it is that good! Worth while your time, for sure!, specially, if you are into some amazing graphicware like this one. But, there is something missing from that article, don’t you think? Something that, in my opinion, is one of the fundamental pillars from Enterprise 2.0. Have you spotted it yourself already? Indeed, social bookmarking / tagging!
Not sure what you would think, but I strongly believe that social bookmarking and social tagging are still an important and rather critical part of a successful Enterprise 2.0 adoption strategy. I would even go one step further and state that social bookmarking / tagging are probably essential key elements behind the social computing philosophy altogether. Yet, it’s interesting to see how they both keep getting neglected time and time again, when they are just so critical. I mean, can you imagine … having your business put together and create a massive index of must-have links with annotations and tags across the board that would help you re-find content much much easier than through just the traditional taxonomies? No, neither could I.
My good friend, Harold Jarche, talked about this very same thing as well not long ago on a virtual IBM event for the community of social software evangelists that I co-lead with one other colleague and which I blogged about over at Personal Knowledge Management by Harold Jarche (BlueIQ Ambassadors). In that presentation Harold mentioned how blogging AND social bookmarking are perhaps two of the most powerful personal knowledge sharing tools available out there noawadays and encouraged everyone to make use of both to get started with their own PKM / PKS strategy, which I wholeheartedly agree with quite a bit, since I have been using both for a few years now and I, too, consider them essential to help manage, to some extent, part of your knowledge.
So does Enterprise Social Bookmarking still have a good, solid business case to take back that prominent position amongst the top-notch social software tools within the enterprise? I am not sure what you would think, but I do believe it has. And not just for now, but for a few years already, despite what some folks have been saying all along neglecting such business case for social bookmarking, specially after seeing the debacle of a good number of different offerings available out there, to the point where a bunch of them have even disappeared from the landscape altogether.
By now, I am sure you may be wondering why do I so firmly believe about such business case for social bookmarking, right? Well, my own company. IBM. Over the last few years we have been using Lotus Connections’ Dogear (Now renamed as Bookmarks), where we have been storing over 1 million public bookmarks (Over 640k of them unique!), and with over 2.7 million tags (Over 177k of them unique as well!) of annotated content that we have bumped into out there on our Intranet, as well as externally. That’s just not too bad, is it? Well, it gets better…
For a good couple of years now, inside IBM, we have also been making use of Enterprise Tagging Service, an IBM developed social bookmarking AND tagging tool, which basically allows us to bookmark, tag and annotate various different resources from within our corporate Intranet. So far so good. Like any other standard social bookmarking site. The great thing though is that the results of that bookmarking and social tagging exercise have now been injected, for a few months already, into our Intranet corporate search engine, which means that along those standard system driven search results, we also have the people driven ones with the use of ETS. But the really neat thing is that one of the main resources that also keeps feeding this bookmarking and tagging service is actually Dogear / Bookmarks!
That’s right, the standard corporate Intranet search engine, which, back in the day, didn’t have much of a good reputation, to be honest (People kept saying how you couldn’t find things anymore … does it sound familiar to you as well?), changed tremendously that perception and customer satisfaction increased by 50% while incorporating ETS AND Bookmarks into the mix of results. Thus, eventually, here we have got the best of both worlds: a fixed taxonomy established by the corporate search engine guidelines and standards, and a rather dynamic and constantly changing folksonomy where knowledge workers themselves get to successfully contribute by annotating and bookmaking successfully various different Web resources to then make them easily searchable on a wider scale.
You can imagine what happened from there onwards, right? Not only did the perception, from knowledge workers, of the corporate search engine changed dramatically, but it also managed to save IBM $4.6 million a year in cost savings and productivity gain. Yes, $4.6 million a year! My good friend, and team colleague, Rawn Shah, described it, quite nicely, under the blog post “Enterprise Tagging Service social software saves IBM $4.6 million a year“, if you would want to do some additional reading on how it actually works out. Mind you though as well that article is from 2008, so as more and more of us keep bookmarking and annotating various different links, I bet that’s a lot higher in 2010!
That’s probably why it may well be a good thing that whenever you are planning to drive the adoption of social software within your business you may be thinking about adding social bookmarking and social tagging into the mix, too, because, more than anything else, there is a great chance that you would be capable of benefiting, even more, from your already existing efforts to empower your knowledge workers to be a bit more in control of their own personal knowledge sharing social interactions.
And to show you a little bit more of how it could work out eventually, I thought I would finish off this blog post with another one of those amazingly talented and hilariously funny YouTube video clips from the series of “The Man Who Should Have Used Lotus Connections” that my good friend, and fellow IBM colleague, Jean Francois Chenier, has been putting together over the last few months. The latest episode of this unfortgettable saga is episode #9 on the topic of Social Bookmarking – The Wisdom of Swarms. It lasts for nearly 4 minutes and there is probably very little introduction that I would need to do, if you have been watching them all along. So here is the embedded version, so you can start playing it right away and let yourself be convinced on the importance and relevance, still today, of social bookmarking and social tagging within the enterprise!:
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