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Exploring use and benefit of corporate social software: Measuring success in the Siemens case References+

Alexander Stocker (Virtual Vehicle, Graz, Austria)
Johannes Müller (Building Technologies Division, Siemens Switzerland Ltd., Zug, Switzerland)

Journal of Systems and Information Technology

ISSN: 1328-7265

Article publication date: 8 August 2016




To measure the success of corporate social software (CSS), interviews, surveys, content and usage data analysis have been commonly used in practice. While interviews and surveys are only capable of making perceived use and benefits transparent, usage data analysis reveals many objective facts but does not allow insights into potential user-benefits. Hence, the purpose of this paper is to link both perspectives to advance CSS success measuring.


The research case is References+, a Corporate Social Software developed at Siemens to facilitate worldwide sharing of knowledge, experiences, and best practices since 2005. References+ currently has around 15,000 registered members located in more than 80 countries. This paper evaluates results from a user survey with nearly 1,500 responding employees and links all survey results to the corresponding participant’s data on platform use to generate additional insights.


The paper generates findings on how CSS is used in practice and how it is perceived by employees of a large-scale enterprise. Furthermore, it explores how a combination of subjective and objective evaluation methods can be applied to advance the state-of-the-art in measuring use and benefits. By linking CSS usage data to corresponding survey data, the paper provides results on what type of use of CSS may create what type of benefit.

Practical implications

This study encourages practitioners to take advantage of a variety of instruments for measuring the benefits of CSS. It generates numerous arguments for practitioners on how to make the benefit of CSS more transparent to financial-oriented decision-makers to successfully defend knowledge management projects against shrinking IT budgets.


This paper is one of the first attempts to explore the relationship between “perceived use” and “perceived benefits” measured by surveys and “factual use” measured by CSS usage statistics for knowledge management research. The findings of this paper may empower the role of user surveys in generating additional insights on use and benefits.



Stocker, A. and Müller, J. (2016), "Exploring use and benefit of corporate social software: Measuring success in the Siemens case References+", Journal of Systems and Information Technology, Vol. 18 No. 3, pp. 277-296.



Emerald Group Publishing Limited

Copyright © 2016, Emerald Group Publishing Limited

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