Strengths and Weaknesses of Measurement

        The purpose of this report is to discuss the strengths and weaknesses of measurement as it relates to the SAS Socialcast case study. The SAS Socialcast case study provides empirical evidence of the effectiveness of creating an environment of seamless, rapid communication available to everyone. The culture of collaboration and knowledge sharing enhances relations and productivity. However, measuring the impact of these efforts offers strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities. The following will explore these strengths and weaknesses and offer solutions for consideration.

        Measuring the impact of the enterprise social network (ESN) provides information on the effectiveness of the tool. According to the SAS Case Study, the investment in the ESN, offered numerous business purposes, such as, enhancing transparency and speed of communication, client satisfaction, collaboration across business locations, employee engagement, efficiency gains, and productivity improvements (Socialcast by VMware, 2012). Each of these functions or effects can be measured to better understand the collective effectiveness of the ESN tool. Measuring the impact of the ESN will also provide information on the return on investment of the product and services provided. These valuable insights into each purpose will identify areas of strengths and weaknesses. SAS has seemingly benefited from an organizational culture that provides a great reputation internally and externally. The following will further explore the strengths and weaknesses inherent in measuring performance and outcomes.
The collection of historical and current data allows organizations to evaluate their past performance to make smarter business decisions that support current and future business needs. Measuring employee performance offers insights into productivity and opportunities for improvements. Measuring organizational results as they relate to customer expectations and satisfaction as a result of the implemented ESN service provides valuable information on the impact on these enhancements. Measuring the organizational climate variance represented by employee satisfaction, engagement and productivity offers insight into the impact on the organization. Each of these strengths offer valuable insights regarding the impact a project has on the organization.
Weaknesses associated with measuring performance may include; subjectivity of soft data, interpretation of information, error in results, and or incorrect assumptions and poor understanding. Any one of these weaknesses can cripple the measurement process. It is imperative that the criteria for measurement are established in advance and aligned with company goals and objectives. According to an article published by the Institute for Public Relations, PR professionals can directly measure the business value of carefully targeted social media opportunities (Duncan, n.d.).  
Measurement is more challenging when dealing with subjective data. The point is to clearly establish criteria with systematic consistency when measuring the results. Establishing benchmarks and goals allows professionals a way to establish campaign impact and public relations effectiveness as related to marketing and advertising indicators, demonstrating impact on final return on investment (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 29). A challenge with measuring peoples’ behaviors or expressions is that each human perceives information differently through their beliefs and values (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 36). Focusing measurements on cultural beliefs and language offers insights into belief systems and allows for generalized measurement opportunities of targeted markets. Insights that provide organizations with empirical evidence of their effectiveness are invaluable and must be measured against organizational goals and objectives.  
Organizations must perform secondary research when developing project goals such as the SAS Socialcast project. Researching and analyzing product offerings, competitors, expected business goals and objectives. This proactive approach will ensure the investment returns value to the organization in the manner intended. A statistical analysis will evaluate the correlation between variables to identify their strength and provide valuable insights on programs that are successful and others that may need improvements. As pointed out in the discussion; there are strengths, challenges, and opportunities at stake. Measuring and understanding potential variances and their impact on the organization are essential. According to our text, A Practitioner’s Guide to Public Relations Research, Measurement, and Evaluation, strategic and proactive approaches to the evaluation of the marketing mix requires that professionals have an understanding of the past, competitors, expected business goals (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 64).  
Reliability means what you are measuring will be measured the same each time. Validity means that you are actually measuring what you say you are measuring (Stacks, & Michaelson, 2010, p. 40). Using reliable, validated data is essential to obtain quality results. There is an error component when predicting outcomes and behaviors even with reliable validated data. Hence, establishing systematic data gathering of reliable, validated information reduces the significance of error in measurement. According to the article Total Survey Error in Public Opinion Quarterly, publication error exists when limitations of data or misinterpretations are not understood or disclosed (Groves & Lyberg, 2010, p. 853). Establishing a scale of reliability and validity is an important strength if accomplished or weakness if not.  
Organizations such as SAS have proven the value of establishing an ethically responsible culture where professionals are creating, measuring, and disclosing their programs accurately. When programs are measured to ensure success with transparency into the process, the outcomes are positive from an employee engagement, productivity, customer satisfaction, and return on investment for the organization.
References
Duncan, S. (n.d.). Institute for Public Relations. Retrieved from http://www.instituteforpr.org/wp-content/uploads/Seth_Duncan_Web_Analytics.pdf 

Groves, R. M., & Lyberg, L. (2010). Total survey error past, present, and future. Public Opinion Quarterly, 74(5), 849-879. 

Socialcast by VMware. (2012). Retrieved from http://www.socialcast.com/files-SAS-Case-Study.pdf 

Stacks, D. W., & Michaelson, D. (2010). A practitioner’s guide to public relations research, measurement and evaluation. New York, N.Y.] (222 East 46th Street: Business Expert Press. 

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