Facebook and its ilk are for the enterprise too

Facebook and its ilk are for the enterprise too

Summary: Companies are blocking Facebook, frowning on social networking and pretending that employees don't peruse information from Wikipedia and Delicious, but they should embrace those sites. In fact, it may make sense to bring them into the enterprise instead of buying some corporate social networking application.

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Companies are blocking Facebook, frowning on social networking and pretending that employees don't peruse information from Wikipedia and Delicious, but they should embrace those sites. In fact, it may make sense to bring them into the enterprise instead of buying some corporate social networking application.

Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann, the resident social networking guru, made his case Wednesday for why the technology department should be absorbing social networking instead of pretending it doesn't exist.

Let's go right to the slides from the Gartner Symposium ITxpo:

social1.png

And.

social11.png

Well gee doesn't that sum things up pretty well? Why exactly are we pondering enterprise social networking apps when there's no volume and chances are this software will never be as good as Facebook?

Think about it. Mann has a point. Using "enterprise" social networking tools is a lot like having an enterprise phone. Or an enterprise Internet. Enterprises have phones, but it's the same as the one you have at home.

Now Mann doesn't recommend that IT departments just adopt Facebook as their own. But instead of banning social networks or pretending they don't exist they should understand them, learn and then implement if it makes sense. In the end, you'll probably have a blend of enterprise and consumer social networking apps at your company. Chances are you already have the latter already.

Mann's other points:

  • Social networking solves business problems like expertise location and mobilizing groups;
  • You get access to many people in volume;
  • You can keep track of colleagues;
  • Social networking tools can be ad hoc meeting places for far flung workers.

Rest assured that software vendors will increasingly add these social networking features into their suites, but there's a catch. You'll have to pay for something that won't be as good as what your friendly neighborhood users already use.

Mann's presentation makes you go hmm. Of course, there are problems with monitoring, security and policies, but it's not exactly rocket science.

Topics: Social Enterprise, Collaboration, Networking

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  • Whatever happened to picking up the telephone and calling someone?

    (nt)
    Mark-Twain
  • RE: Facebook and its ilk are for the enterprise too

    Interesting. I have no question in my mind at all
    that social networks have a role to play in business
    for many of the reasons stated above. One great
    example is that your customers and partners are on
    such sites and linking to them means you can have
    frequent, opted in two-way dialogue. Your contacts
    also always keep their details up to date. Link your
    social networks into your CRM system and you have a
    self-maintaining customer database, for example.

    It makes sense to choose the networks you participate
    on carefully though. If you target consumers then
    Facebook makes sense and an opt-in brand page makes a
    lot of sense. It isn't what I'd choose for a B2B
    focus though, as people are on Facebook as
    individuals, not as corporate representatives
    typically.

    And then the issues start, because LinkedIn, the best
    known of the business focused socnets, doesn't
    encourage you connecting with people you don't already
    know. So it's OK for maintaining existing data, but
    not great for making new contacts.

    By the way, data downloads out to CRM systems is
    something we plan for WeCanDo.BIZ, a B2B business
    network launched in May, early 2009.

    Ian Hendry
    CEO, WeCanDo.BIZ
    http://www.wecando.biz
    ianhendry