Opening the Public Social Networks in the Enterprise

This was originally posted on the Dachis Group Collaboratory.

A recent study by Robert Half and Associates found that 54% of companies ban the use of public social networking sites like Facebook and Twitter in the workplace. The reasoning could be that productivity would be hampered, or that your organization must be compliant with regulations from the SEC, FINRA, Sarbanes Oxley, or HIPAA. The risks are real. Confidential information can be revealed, and brands can be damaged. As an executive at a company, would you ever post a question to your friends on LinkedIn, such as “What is the best way to terminate an under-performing product manager?” Believe it or not, it happens.

One of our alliance partners, Socialware, has been tackling this issue with technology solutions, and starting today is offering free products. Social Marketer renders a new toolbar in the page that allows users to choose if their messages are public, or internal to the enterprise. Internal status updates will get search optimized and put into a unified stream, while personal ones may have different retention rules . Another product, Risk Manager, allows for rules-based moderation of tweets, posts, and updates.

Socialware Admin ConsoleHere is a screenshot (click it for a larger image) of the administration console for managing the social network traffic. It provides for some pretty interesting and granular control of which types of messages and events are allowed, disallowed, and moderated. You could, for instance, block Facebook chat and all the Facebook applications (which may typically be games) while encrypting or moderating status updates. A rule can be created that could moderate or block any message that contains something with the format of a social security number, or credit card number.

While all of this is taking place, all the message traffic is being retained and archived to support retention policies and regulatory requirements.

A comprehensive solution to the issue of managing the public social networks in the enterprise would address the people issues, contain process modifications, and utilize technology like Socialware. Considering that these are the places where employees already congregate, it makes sense to leverage them rather than attempting to drive adoption of look-a-like tools that could be run on-premise.

Socialware is providing an important piece of the puzzle that enables employees to use these new tools, while mitigating risk at the same time.

Opening the Public Social Networks in the Enterprise

2 thoughts on “Opening the Public Social Networks in the Enterprise

  1. With the onslaught of cloud computing in the public and private sectors, the release of massive public data sets, and companies itching to take advantage of the price-performance siren song of low/no-cost social media and other open source, collaborative apps, savvy IT managers understand that they have a big problem with how to control, secure, and exploit the web 2.0 for their enterprises.Applications like Socialware (which I highlighted earlier this year in FreshTech Friday, see: http://www.austinstartup.com/2009/02/this-is-no…) are an important part of the solution. At nGenera, we developed out of necessity a “collaboration server” that provides social media listening, federated search, social metadata, and a whole lot more (see: http://www.ngenera.com/software/collaboration-s…) because the awareness and management features it provides are missing. Other start-ups like Pedigree and major players like IBM and Microsoft, will no doubt be introducing such capabilities in future releases.But, the big thing our research at our Insight unit has shown (validated by the IT analysts from Forrester, AMR, etc.) is that successful enterprise-wide collaboration is a c-level activity. The real benefits of true collaboration (especially in a B-to-B environment) require changed conditions and culture, with some very specific elements that studies show must be present to succeed. Sure they can be stumbled upon or learned by trial-and-error; but, that's an expensive proposition that few large enterprises can afford when you are talking about multi-million dollar investments.Chapter 11 of Tapscott's seminal work on mass collaboration – Wikinomics – does a good job of providing the some boradstrokes about the necessary conditions for success. I look forward to reading more about the art & science of these principals in the Collaboratory blog going forward.

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