As I’ve mentioned before, one of my favorite presentations at SharePoint Conference (SPC) 2014 was Melanie Hohertz from Cargill discussing the Yammer implementation they have there. In addition to the greatest slide of the entire conference I also learned another technique she called "dissection" which really examines social interactions online and helps fully explain the value that people are getting out of them.

I wanted to try to apply this to some of the activity in Catapult’s own Yammer network to get a better picture of what’s going on. One interaction in particular I thought would be cool to examine was one that I got to see as it was happening, and it started about a month ago.

I was working with a colleague and buddy Marc Jellinek on a potential new client who was looking to understand both SharePoint and BI and how they interact with each other.

Before reinventing the wheel, Marc wanted to see if anyone had any presentations about this topic he could pull from. Although Marc is a very gregarious guy, at the time he had only been with the company a little over a month or so. He then posted this to Yammer both to the All Company group as well as the BI group.

Original Post, Austin TX, 9:56am

Desired Response, Phoenix AZ, 10:00am

Now this is probably the most obvious and tangible metric. How long after the initial posting was the desired response received? In this case, it was just four minutes. This is probably way above average for most interactions, depending on the organization, and was facilitated by the fact that Marc tagged her in the original post. But also of note that the post was "liked" by Matt Ludtke, who is also in Austin, TX but in a different business unit than Marc.

Confirmation of Satisfaction, Austin TX, 10:55am

Marc has now confirmed that this is the information that he is looking for and has also engaged the original author of the content, Carl Speshock, if they weren’t already connected.

Original Author Engaged, Houston TX, 12:13pm

Carl now replies to the thread, appreciating the feedback. At this point, Marc should feel pretty comfortable reaching out to Carl in the future, either for this specific need or another new one.

New Discovery, Austin TX, 4 days later

Matt is now fully engaged in the discussion. Matt does not typically work in the BI space, but as you can see, the content was interesting to him and relevant to the clients that he is working with. Hello cross-sell opportunities!

Supplemental information, Denver CO

Also of note were posts from Erik and Aneal, both out of Denver. Erik linked to an MSDN blog post, while Aneal linked to an internal document library in Catapult’s intranet. Both of these could potentially be valuable to Marc or anyone else engaged in the conversation (or anyone just observing for that matter).

(Possibly Straw Man) Conclusions

If someone were to ask how much Catapult benefitted from this interaction, especially if you were to even try to put a dollar amount on it, there are a number of ways I could think of to approach it:

  • How many hours did Marc save by not having to recreate this slide deck from scratch? This is probably the most obvious start
  • If you were a new employee like Marc, how long would it take you to find the content that you were looking for? Also where would you have started? Asking around? Sending an email blast out? How long would that have taken and would you have even found it before the sales meeting?
  • What if Marc had just emailed Amy directly? What potential missed opportunities would there have been? Maybe in this case, Marc would have gotten the content that he was looking for, but maybe Carl never would have been connected. Maybe Matt goes out and pitches BI to some of his clients armed with information that he wouldn’t have had if he had never seen the presentation. Also who knows how many other people gained knowledge from this interaction who never bothered to reply or "like" the post?