Announcing our new ESN Diagnostics Service

Note: as part of our launch of a new ESN Health Check Service, we will publish a mini-series of blog posts sharing some of our research into user adoption strategies and tactics for social collaboration platforms / ESNs — and this is the first one…

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There is increasing interest in how to accelerate user adoption and business value proof for enterprise social platforms and networks (ESNs). Charlene Li recently wrote that low levels of usage growth are partly down to leaders failing to get involved and demonstrate that participation in these platforms is valuable. This is almost certainly a major factor, but we believe that adoption in many companies has slowed down because of a failure to demonstrate clear business value from the ways of working these platforms makes possible.

In the early phases of social platform adoption, basic metrics showing numbers of users, content contributions and activity on the platform are useful to get an idea of how well people are taking to the new tool. But once the initial first-wave adoption phase (and excitement) is over, a plateau in usage is common unless people are able to use the platform for more than just talking to each other and sharing content.

The real benefits of an ESN or social collaboration platform relate to enabling new, more agile ways of working. To achieve this, it must be possible to do meaningful work on or inside the platform, which means documents, data and integrations with other systems need to be available in situ. It also means that many of the processes and common use cases that pre-date the existence of the social platform can be updated to take advantage of the new possibilities afford by the technology.

So how can we assess those benefits and whether they are achieved? In essence, when looking at ESN adoption, we are looking for two things beyond simple adoption metrics:

  • How is social technology enabling people to work in new and better ways?
  • What impact is it having on the structure and culture of the organisation?

One of the simplest ways to look at the impact of the platform on new ways of working is to study time saved and outcomes improved in specific use cases. In other words, for any given workflow that people undertake regularly in the company, determine how much time is saved by creating a more connected way of doing this on a social platform. One of the most common areas of wasted time in large firms is finding out what is going on, clarifying objectives and finding the people and resources needed to get the job done. This is a classic simple use case for social tools, but there are many others, and identifying and designing them is key to any adoption strategy.

In terms of impact on the organisation, there is a remarkable amount of data available in the enterprise to begin building up a picture of organisational network health in order to gauge the impact of your social platform. Also, the platform itself gives us the ability to ask people how things are going and what needs to improve if it is to support them in their work better.

So, we believe it is time to move beyond basic adoption metrics and usage KPIs and begin trying to determine real business value arising from the new possibilities the platform creates. Over the years we have done various reviews and benchmarks of ESNs and social platforms, offering advice on how they can be rejuvenated and how they can address more valuable use cases — see our project stories here and here, for example. Building on this work, we have crafted a simple health check service that looks at the following elements:

  • technology and UX
  • organisational health / improvement measures
  • user adoption, motivation and engagement
  • use cases, process support and business purpose

The health check is quick and highly engaging for internal teams and those working on ESN projects, offering feedback and insights from other companies and their experience of accelerating adoption, as well as providing some very useful recommendations for demonstrating clear business value from greater adoption and deeper integration with work processes.

Why not take a look at our new service and let us know if you would like to give it a try.

Originally published at

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