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Social Business Software, ROI and the Tiger Repelling Rock

Malcolm Ross, Senior Vice President, Product Strategy, Appian
February 7, 2013

The Social Business Software (SBS) industry has come to a fork in the road. All the cool features, collaborations, discussions, and status updates have reached their day of reckoning. Chief executives are looking at their multi-million dollar technology investments in social business software and asking "What value is this bringing to my enterprise?".

Unfortunately, the SBS industry is struggling to give a good answer. Jive is claiming to have the best answer, proudly declaring that Jive customers achieve a 2-4% increase in revenue. This statement though reminds me of the Simpsons episode "Much Apu About Nothing". In the episode, the town of Springfield setups up a Bear Patrol, and bear sightings disappear. Lisa tries to demonstrate the issue with their logic by offering Homer a Tiger Repelling Rock. Homer quickly accepts the rock and determines the rock must be working as there are no tigers around.

And now Jive would like to use that same logic to imply their software leads directly to revenue generation, that correlation implies causation.

We at Appian certainly believe that Social Business Software does improve communication, and Jive's referenced researchhas shown reductions in email and meetings and improved communication. But just because you put those points on the sameinfo-graphicalong with an increase in productivity and revenue does not mean they are directly correlated.

It is time for Social Business Software to grow-up, get out school and go to work. Time for SBS to live in a world where results matter, where decisions have consequences, and actions can be scored and measured. In short, it is time for worksocial.

Coming from the world of "Work" in the Business Process Management (BPM) industry, Appian believes in measurement, in analysis, and in understanding exactly how events lead to improved productivity and higher revenue. BPM tools have employed features like process visualizations and business activity monitoringto paint a very clear picture to executives where value is being derived and where improvement is needed in the enterprise.

But process experts can be seen as stiff and rigidat times, which is why BPM needs social. Our modern work environments are a combination of structured and unstructured. At times, rules must be applied and followed, at other times,dynamicsocial conversations are needed to solve unexpected challenges.

Worksocial software brings these worlds together, allowing Social Business Software capabilities to truly evolve by direct correlation of the "social" to real business "work" events. Social brings greater participation, communication and speed to your work environments. Work brings the context, action, and accountability that Social so clearly lacks and is at the root of the industry's inability to demonstrate direct value to executives.

If you'd like to learn more about worksocial, come join us for our upcoming webinar or in person at Appian World 2013.

Malcolm Ross

Vice President of Product Marketing

Malcolm Ross