There have been several customers I've worked with who have talked about partially justifying their social business software (SBS) investment by reducing travel costs. Some have made these comments more publicly, but I'll try to ping a few others who have just mentioned them to me during conversations. Hopefully they'll post.
On the public community front, both VMWare (Eric Nielsen) and Intel (Scott Palmer) have discussed on past Jive webcasts how their communities (VMWare's VMWorld Community and Intel's partner community) have been hugely successful because they've been able to help engage their target audiences on a continually basis and during a time when everyone across the board is cutting travel budgets.
Regarding employee collaboration, two organizations come to mind but commentary hasn't been public so I'll speak generally. One enterprise company who utilizes Jive to better connect their sales team has told me that travel budgets for anything outside of prospect meetings has been virtually eliminated. So with Jive, people can still feel connected. However, in this case it wasn't really used as a business justification during the initial decision but rather they felt like it's helping them do more with less as times have gotten hard.
The other example is for a large enterprise to use both at corporate as well as in the field (10,000+ people). They did use travel reduction as part of their business justification, with their basic argument to senior management being that they could either leverage social business software or:
- Continue to travel
- Hold more conferences
- Send more e-mails (more noise)
- Create dept news sheets
- Hold conference calls (short-lived, ideas forgotten)
- Create more intranets in silos
Hopefully others can chime in here as well.
If you're looking for cost justifications, travel reduction is certainly an opportunity. I can't say we leveraged that, however, in our case. I guess we would have found it a bit risky to promise that we could reduce travel as a result of adopting an as-yet-unproven (in our enterprise) technology.
We found cost savings in some of these areas:
- elimination of intranets and the costs associated with maintaining or upgrading them
- elimination of one-off wiki installations
- elimination of Sharepoint installations (note: we still have a number of Sharepoint installations, and that's because it makes sense for those areas)
- avoidance of upgrade costs associated with a Lotus Notes database application, which instead was migrated to our Jive Clearspace instance
- elimination of BaseCamp contracts
That said, we were a lucky team: our CEO had essentially sponsored our initiative, so we didn't have to make an overwhelming ROI case. The clear reason we moved forward wasn't to save a few bucks -- it was to realize the tremendous potential and opportunities we foresaw from adopting this technology throughout our enterprise. The cost justification thus was somewhat what of a paper exercise. There's no way to accurately forecast the impact we truly expect to see from this. Still, the pressure is on us to deliver significant benefits, and we're continually conscious of that expectation and looking to measure and deliver upon it.