Covering your Social Tracks

Facebook, the current common denominator social graph provider, have rolled out another component which they have turned on by default between you and your friends within the USA (and who knows who else behind the scenes).Your friends can now 'check you in' to a geographical location at a specific time (much as they can tag you in an image) and you can elect to reveal your whereabouts to whoever when you chose.

Facebook, the current common denominator social graph provider, have rolled out another component which they have turned on by default between you and your friends within the USA (and who knows who else behind the scenes).

Your friends can now 'check you in' to a geographical location at a specific time (much as they can tag you in an image) and you can elect to reveal your whereabouts to whoever when you chose.

75 Percent of Individuals Use the Same Password for their Social Networking accounts as their Email, according to Internet security company BitDefender, and Google CEO Schmidt, probably in a politically deflective mood knowing Facebook Places was launching said in the Wall Street Journal on August 14

... "I don't believe society understands what happens when everything is available, knowable and recorded by everyone all the time," he says. He predicts, apparently seriously, that every young person one day will be entitled automatically to change his or her name on reaching adulthood in order to disown youthful hijinks stored on their friends' social media sites.

The reality is that free, casual consumer social graph providers such as Facebook, with their ever changing terms of service, are the training wheels for millions of people's first online connectivity outside of email, but few understand how valuable their personal data and connections and how easily it can be exploited within their terms of service. Add in the reality of sloppy personal security around password and there are sure to be issues.

This morning SAP and their recent acquisition Sybase held a press conference in Boston and Germany - Brian Summers sums up nicely here - which I tuned into online. A major reason for SAP's Sybase acquisition was their well articulated 'Unwired Enterprise' thinking

We define the Unwired Enterprise as an enterprise that uses information technology to create the seamless flow of information from the data center to any device. The benefits for enterprises becoming an Unwired Enterprise are substantial. An Unwired Enterprise:

•    Breaks down information technology barriers and delivers critical information and applications to employees, partners, and customers, to any platform, device or network, anytime, anywhere.

•    Is more efficient, more productive, and better able to capitalize on new opportunities because information is moved to the point of action, increasing its relevance and enhancing the power of decisions and transactions.

Enterprise scale collaboration requires building out complex systems once and well, and SAP's BI (business intelligence) capabilities complement the mobile strategy Sybase have innovated with.

What keeps CIO's and their staff up at night is the reality that alongside their well thought through logistical thinking about how to transport enterprise data safely and effectively, employees will increasingly be on location for work... and broadcasting their whereabouts from their personal smart phones in their pocket or bag. Existing services like Gowalla, Foursquare et al already exist for this purpose and are typically useful and used for those who would like to notify friends of social activities around food and drink.

For high profile personalities a photo of your lunch in Tokyo or New York is part of publicizing their current social/business whirl, but is a far cry from the GPS fleet tracking of trucks by logistics companies as they go about their deliveries, a far more mature use model of geo location data.

We expect to track a package being shipped by a courier but are surprised when an employee reveals their location to be at a competitor's location, or you find a photo of your partner with your best friend at an unfamiliar location - the savvy are quickly turning Facebook Places off in order to cover their social tracks.

On a personal level this is all containable if you're paying attention, but at a business level 'presence' is far more of a problem, and needs thinking through at a governance level. The challenge of course is that corporate governance doesn't extend to personal digital devices on the job....

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