If your enterprise social network (ESN) is going to be a success, it will represent one of the major business processes within your organization. Collaboration, knowledge sharing, innovation, person-to-person support, and a considerable part of your organizational culture will be riding on it. Like any other important business process, you should not be flying in the dark about where your ESN is heading and how it performs. You want to measure and track it.

Some effects are easy to measure, and others will seem completely intangible. Douglas W. Hubbard, in his book How to Measure Anything,1 outlines that, with the right approach and clear expectations about precision, it is actually possible to measure things that at first did not seem measureable.

I have used an approach that Hubbard calls Fermi decomposition in my knowledge flow initiatives before.2 Using this method, you basically get a combination of measured inputs as well as some additional estimates to come up with a fairly good idea of the value of sharing knowledge. One strategy I have used was to build confidence by taking a conservative approach to estimating this value, which was still worth a great deal of money, despite the necessary investment. In fact, the investment costs were actually assessed with a conservative view as well, in that efforts were estimated on the high side.

With a social network there are usually a number of metrics that you get right out of the box as part of the software ...

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