Measuring the value of knowledge flows is not easy, and one should be rather careful in approaching it. In the previous section, I introduced some example measurements and tools that will help you get some insight into your ESN and where it is heading. However, one of the key questions is what some of the most useful measurements—also called KPIs—might be. In her Altimeter report, Charlene Li pointed to the fact that one should concentrate on metrics that symbolize some closing gaps between issues in the organization rather than participation metrics.8

The most frequently used way to assess the closing of business-issue gaps is via surveys. One of the downsides of surveys is that they can lead to survey-fatigue, where people just get fed up with filling them in all the time. So, while I fully agree that those measures are the most valuable ones to have, there is a limit as to how many of them you can have without annoying your users to the point where only a fraction of people will answer, skewing the results.

In the end, you will have to use a balanced set of metrics. Participation measures alone will be insufficient. They might be able to tell you something about the number of people in the organization who are aware of the system, but how many of them are engaging in valuable conversations is a different kind of question. Measuring the ratio between those that are actively contributing to the ESN and those that are merely reading other content is a more ...

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