If you’re looking for proof that social software offers business value, here are some examples.
First, some proof points from an article from The Economist entitled, “Mining Social Networks: Untangling the Social Web.” It offers some stories of how social network analysis (SNA) is being used, such as decreasing credit risks for banks.
The latest version of SAS’s software identifies risky borrowers by examining their social networks and Internal Revenue Service records, she says. For example, an applicant may be a bad risk, or even a fraudster, if he plans to launch a type of business which has no links to his social network, education, previous business dealings or travel history, which can be pieced together with credit-card records. Ms Joyner says the software can also determine if an applicant has associated with known criminals—perhaps his fiancée has shared an address with a parolee.
Or helping police optimize their staffing:
Richmond [VA]’s police have started monitoring Facebook, MySpace and Twitter messages to determine where the rowdiest festivities will be. On big party nights, the department now saves about $15,000 on overtime pay, because officers are deployed to areas that the software deems ripe for criminal activity. Crime has “dramatically” declined as a result, says Mr Hollifield.
Another example is what can happen to a company when it ignores the power of social software. The first chapter of Empowered: Unleash Your Employees, Energize Your Customers, and Transform Your Business, by Josh Bernoff and Ted Schadler, details the saga of Heather Armstrong, a blogger and mother of two whose new Maytag washer broke down a week after she’d bought it. After several failed attempts over a month to fix the washer and multiple calls to customer service, Heather finally said to a customer support rep,
And here’s where I say, do you know what Twitter is? Because I have over a million followers on Twitter. If I say something about my terrible experience on Twitter do you think someone will help me? And she says in the most condescending tone and hiss ever uttered, “Yes, I know what Twitter is. And no, that will not matter.”
Oops. It turns out it did. Heather started tweeting about her experience and all of a sudden Maytag corporate (actually, Whirlpool corporate) cared. They finally fixed the machine. However, in the meantime, Heather’s original blog post received 2,906 comments and Forbes did a story on the episode.
In summary, social software does matter. If an enterprise isn’t leveraging it within its business initiatives, there’s still a chance that a disgruntled customer will use it against the enterprise. Put another way, ignoring social software is not a viable strategy.