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Innovation

Facebook and its ilk are for the enterprise too

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.
Written by Larry Dignan, Contributor on

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:

And.

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.

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