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Can You Measure The ROI of Enterprise Social Networking?

Probably not. But ROI is only one way to measure value. Here's an informal business case from EMC on the benefits.

Probably not. But ROI is only one way to measure value. Here's an informal business case from EMC on the benefits.Enterprise social networking-like Facebook but for the office-has business leaders scratching their heads. They can see the incredible adoption of consumer social networking apps by their employees, and wonder if they should roll out a platform for internal use. They don't want to fall behind the technology curve, and they definitely want to minimize the presence of internal business communications on public networks.

At the same time, the business case for internal social networking is squishy. There are no hard-dollar cost savings to point to, and no satisfying way to measure things like productivity increases.

My cover story this week details just how companies wrestle with the ROI of enterprise social networking applications.

One of the people I spoke with is EMC's Len Devanna. He runs the company's Web strategy, and advocates internal social networking. My article outlines the struggles he goes through when trying to justify the company's investment in these tools, but if you'd like a deeper dive into his thinking (which I recommend), click here.

In the meantime, I'd love to get feedback from readers on this subject. Does the lack of a numbers-driven business case scare you off? Have you found measurements for the value of social networking that would satisfy the CFO? Does it even matter, given the ease with which social networking apps seep into the enterprise? Let me know!

InformationWeek has published an in-depth report on rich Internet applications. Download the report here (registration required).

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