The face-to-face media buzz event that was Davos 2008 is ended, but the exchanges live on in the resources available at http://www.davosconversation.org/. These provide an opportunity to pay closer attention to this year's theme, "Collaboration Innovation".
The Financial Times February 5 Review section headlined:
"INCOVENIENT TRUTHS: HOW MARKET TURMOIL AND A ROGUE TRADER ROCKED DAVOS."
captured a theme heard in much media coverage of this year's event: that real world concerns overtook the intended focus on "Collaboration Innovation".
Given the seriousness of financial market news events co-inciding with Davos, the distraction is understandable. However, I'd propose that allowing today's events to draw organizations' attention away from "collaboration innovation" happens everyday in enterprises large and small. And among the many reasons is a significant inability to measure how value is created through "collaboration innovation".
Clearly the five CEO's participating in the Davos Collaboration Innovation session experience the benefits, and also understand the challenges. However, in the hour video of their session I heard no specific mention of how success is measured. There was talk of successful partnerships and new product creation but beyond that?
My interest in measuring how value is created through collaboration dates from the Online Communities in Business 2004 study Joe Cothrel and I co-authored. Our respondents told us:
"Participation in online communities, networks, and teams is growing (82%)"
"Most organizations can’t measure return on investment (72%)"
I thought about this finding recently reading Bill Johnston's community ROI post. It describes a range of indicators from an April 2007 ForumOne report most notably that:
"Only 22% of respondents had clear ROI Models"
The Online Communities in Business 2004 findings about lack of ROI measures was a driver for me in co-convening the Facebook Groups in Business peer-to-peer research experiment. Colleagues and 10 volunteer Facebook Group owners are tracking activity to explore if, and how, business value is created. Our initiative is work in progress but it's quickly become clear if you are seeking networking measurement nirvana, Facebook doesn't deliver.
Noticeably absent listening to Andrew McAfee and Tom Davenport duelling January 11 (at the FAST Forward Blog) about the impact of Enterprise 2.0 tools in organizations were numbers to support either case. Given Tom Davenport's latest book is "Competing on Analytics" might we not expect more?
Please understand. I am not at all suggesting business value is not created through interaction, as McKinsey argues, and collaboration. Quite the opposite. Rather, if you accept common wisdom that businesses operate on what they can measure, doesn't it seem reasonable that lack of measurement tools handicaps "collaboration innovation"?
No doubt the emergence of more quantifiable collaboration platforms ranging from idea marketplaces like InnoCentive and prediction markets (as reported in the recent Google research paper), is making the power of "collaboration innovation" more visible. From attending the recent NY Mashup Summit there appears promise in emerging mashup platforms to dynamically improve data collection, and analysis. Still, given the power to collaborate and innovate that global connectedness allows, isn't it time to pay closer attention to developing and using measures for the value created?
~ Jenny Ambrozek