Show me the ROI!!
I was in Las Vegas last week at Realcomm, a technology conference for the commercial real estate industry and “Show Me the ROI” was the theme of that conference. Leave it to the real estate industry to cut right to the heart of the matter. They want to see technology deliver dollars. If it does, it’s cool. If it doesn’t they don’t want to bother with it.
I think it’s time for the Enterprise 2.0 Conference to adopt some of that same attitude.
Tuesday started with keynote presentations. Unfortunately, the longest presentations were just product demos from Cisco and SAP for their social collaboration tools. I get it, they’re sponsors and sponsors make the conference possible. But dedicating premium keynote spots to product demos projects an image that, unlike Realcomm, this conference thinks technology for technology’s sake is enough. There’s definitely a lot of nifty whizbang technology available now to increase peer-to-peer connectedness and to make information and expertise more discoverable. But no one is going to take it seriously until you show them how the technology leads to better numbers — either increased revenue or decreased costs.
An interesting aside: Microsoft SharePoint is the tool everyone loves to hate at this conference, but in the two Microsoft sessions I’ve been in over the last two days, both times the Microsoft presenter has made the case that:
- problems exist in organizations that collaboration technologies can solve, and
- solving those problems can deliver benefits to the organization that you can measure in dollars
For example, in this Microsoft whitepaper, you’ll find this figure: “Employees who are connected to a wide range of colleagues generate $83,000 more in revenue per year than employees with an average number of colleague connections.”
SharePoint, SAP, Cisco, Socialtext, Jive, ThoughtFarmer, NewsGator, Drupal, or someone else — you decide. But let’s talk about these tools like business people, not technology fans. Don’t lead with features, lead with benefits.
The day ended more promisingly than it began. After lunch I went to a session called “Enterprise 2.0 Value Propositions” where, through a lot of good back and forth between the audience and panelists Oliver Marks and Dennis Howlett, it became clear that there is an ROI case to be made for Enterprise 2.0 collaboration tools and that you can attach the benefits of those technologies to the balance sheet’s operating metrics that business leaders care about.
Here are six returns on investment I managed to write down during the exchange:
- Sales acceleration
- Better inventory replenishment
- Time savings
- Faster ramp up of new employees, faster to productivity
- More diversity in collaboration groups that can lead to better innovation
- Reduced training costs
Each of these makes the balance sheet look better and you can probably think of more.