Thursday, June 18, 2009

This Is Why It's So Hard To Calculate Social Software ROI

View Comments

Captain's log... June 16th: It was a hot night outside in the Dallas/Fort Worth area; I was working diligently in my hotel room. I was doing a dry run for a very important demo that I had to do in 9 hours. I wanted to verify everything was set. As I prepared my laptop bag, I noticed the unthinkable. The VGA adapter that I need to use to project from my MacBook Pro was not there. I had left it at home, 2100 miles away.

I scrambled. I sent text messages, emails, and BlackBerry Instant Messages to some colleagues that lived in the area and I knew had Macs. Only 1 responded but didn't have the adapter with them. It was now 1am, and with no solution in sight, I renounced and just figured that the customer would have to gather around me and watch the demo in my laptop. Very unprofessional.

Because I was so nervous, I woke up at 5am, 4 hours before my demo. I took a chance and posted a new discussion thread in the Mac@IBM community to see whether anybody in the DFW area had a VGA adapter I could borrow. Here's the timeline:

  • 5am: Discussion topic posted in the Mac@IBM community's forum
  • 5:45am: IBMer working out in the local Y gets a notification in his BB (I didn't know this until after the fact)
  • 7:10am: I go down to get breakfast in hotel lobby -- heart pounding: "we are going to lose this deal because of me"
  • 7:18am: I get an email saying I have a response to my discussion topic. It's from a colleague who has the adapter and lives 4 miles away from the customer and gives me his cell phone number, and home address.
  • 7:20am: I leave the hotel to go to my colleague's house.
  • 7:48am: Arrive at colleague's house and pick up VGA adapter
  • 8:00am: Arrive at customer site
  • 9-11am: I successfully delivered my custom demo to the customer. Overwhelmingly positive feedback from customer.
  • 11:30am: I returned adapter to colleague
  • 12:00pm: Arrived DFW for my flight back to SJU

The great thing about this, was that this is a colleague that I had collaborated with in the past via email and instant messages. So we knew each other. Yet, we had never met in person and I had no idea that he (1) lived in the DFW area and (2) had a MacBook Pro.

Honestly, I'm still in awe. Social software came to the rescue even when all the other traditional methods had failed. If I hadn't posted that discussion topic, the 13 people that were in the conference room where I presented would have had to gather around my laptop to watch the demo.

When I told this story to my wife, all she said was: "You lucky ......".

How do you calculate the ROI of this scenario???

blog comments powered by Disqus