Here we are 40 years after the Internet was first used to send a message and business is repeating history with their adoption rates to new technologies.
From a Robert Half Technology Survey and mentioned in Stowe Boyd’s blog post Enterprises Block Social Networks, 54% of US companies with over 100 employees have completely blocked sites like Facebook, MySpace and Twitter. At the same time, analysts at Gartner are telling IT managers, Loosen up on social networks, security. These opposing views remind me of the early years of the Internet. You could walk into a business in the early 1980’s with a dozen PCs and one of them was not connected to the network. That lone PC was connected to the internet, but it wasn’t safe to have the entire office on-line. The reasoning was that some hacker could break in and steal all your accounting data and the employees would spend all their time surfing the net rather than working.
This battlecry has reared it’s head in the business world with Social Media as “someone might say something negative about us. We don’t trust our employees to work during working hours. Lock it down. Turn it off!” The control must be kept by the CIO or communications director, and our lawyer and HR department are ready to reprimand any employee that crosses the line. Oops, only 30% of business have a social media policy. You can get help with social media and email policy from my earlier blog post Email Records retention Can Be Tricky.
This fear of social networking will handcuff the enterprise while competitors will leapfrog ahead. If you don’t trust your employees with some responsibility, why did you hire them? As Paul Proctor, a VP at Gartner says, “You cannot protect yourself from everything. You must learn to balance risk and performance.” AIIM has gathered a number of statistics from surveys and research that help to explain the current state and where we are heading. Here’s just a snippet to share:
Over half of organizations consider Enterprise 2.0 to be “important” or “very important” to their business goals and success. Only 25% are actually doing anything about it, but this is up from 13% in 2008. Knowledge-sharing, collaboration and responsiveness are considered the biggest drivers. Lack of understanding, corporate culture and cost are the biggest impediments.
Let’s look at this from the perspective of the business leader. They hear the word social and think of twittering “I’ll meet you at the pub after work”. The word social needs to be replaced with business collaboration when you bring the discussion from the IT department to the Board of Directors. The real questions that business should be focusing on are:
There are numerous business reasons to embrace Social Media including public relations, brand building, lead generation, crisis management and search engine optimization. Now that Twitter has deals with Bing and Google, to crawl the twitterverse, I suspect a few more firms will be appointing a “corporate twitterer”. You want to be planning now as I read in the Social Computing Journal , Nielsen Norman Group estimates “a timeline of approximately three to five years for most organizations to successfully adopt and integrate social technologies into their intranets.” Better shake a leg.