I thought people would like to know about the status of our contextual research project on social networking within the enterprise. Here’s where we are with the field research study after going through this mornings replies to the call-for-participation announcement that I’ve posted earlier or sent to contacts via e-mail:.
1. The call-for-participation has been received by 55 companies.
2. A range of industry sectors are represented within that group of 55 including: financial services, retail/speciality, pharmaceutical, home improvement, legal, consumer products, insurance, manufacturing, travel, professional services, education, government, media, telecommunications, energy, and technology.
3. As of today, 12 organizations have confirmed participation, 1 has declined and 3 look doubtful. A few are wondering whether they would be a “good fit”.
4. Within the confirmed organizations, the financial services sector leads with 3 companies having confirmed participation.
5. The target study size is 20-25 organizations. I’m waiting on 35 or so organizations that are in various stages of handling the request (looking for the right sponsor, asking questions, assessing value, etc).
6. About a dozen of companies in this group of 35 have expressed a positive interest in participating, but have not confirmed.
7. There are 13 slots still available before I close the call-for-participation phase and focus entirely on the interview portion of the study.
One company asked what value would be gained from participating in this study. I replied that the framework used during the interviews and the interpretation sessions held after each interview will help uncover insight on social networking specific to that organization as well as help identify patterns across organizations. We expect that the type of ask-listen-observe approach (based on contextual inquiry/design practices) will surface valuable information that otherwise might not be identified through traditional requirements gathering practices. The synthesis of these findings across all study participants should also prove interesting in terms of trends, expected benefits, barriers, tooling, etc. I think “value” from this study will be defined in terms of improved insight, better decision-making, a more thorough understanding of the organizational needs/issues, and a more complete picture of tooling directions.
Some people also expressed concern about resources. We are estimating 1-2 hours for each interview (typically a F2F sessions will go 2 hours and a phone session will go for about 1 hour). Participants control the number of interviews but only 1-3 sessions are necessary. Some amount of time would go to overhead activities (scheduling meetings, participating in peer review of findings). So if an organization elected to have 3 F2F meetings of 2 hours each, I imagine that the total commitment would require around 10-15 hours of time (when you add in the time needed for coordination).
As I’ve stated before – there’s no cost (e.g., fee) or requirement to be a client in order to participate. We may however have to limit participation just to manage the size of the study and keep to our timeline (wrap-up for this study is the end of October).
I am beginning to define a travel schedule and setup interview sessions. If you are interested in participating, or have any questions, please let me know by leaving a comment. But please note – there are only about 13 slots left.
BTW: we are looking to interview F500 companies but have also been able to include some smaller organizations with 2000 or so employees. We are not looking to interview independent consultants, or vendors selling social networking solutions. Customer referrals are welcome however.