Report: Social networks in the enterprise need governance, IT policies

A report commissioned by Cisco found that few companies have policies in place as it relates to social networking tools in the workplace
Written by Sam Diaz, Inactive

When it comes to the use of social networking and microblogging tools in the workplace, companies are increasingly interested in deploying strategies around them - especially when those tools can offer more insight about their customers.

But is there any rhyme or reason to what these companies are doing? Or have corporate networks just becomes the wild frontier of adoption and usage of these tools? It turns out that few companies have any sort of formal adoption process, established corporate policies or any direct involvement between these tools and the IT departments.

The findings stem from a study commissioned by Cisco to assess how companies are using consumer-centric social networks. Among the findings:

  • About 14 percent of the responding companies said they had a formal process associated with adoption of consumer-based social networking tools for business purposes.
  • About 20 percent identified some sort of policy in place regarding the use of these technologies.
  • About 10 percent said there was direct IT involvement in these outside social networks - not as a decision maker but rather as an involved party that can properly integrate the tools with existing tools and processes to maximize the benefits for the company.

In the report, the company notes why the these tools simply cannot be ignored by enterprise companies:

The use of consumer-based social networking tools, such as Facebook and Twitter, as collaboration platforms is connecting organizations with the external world in myriad ways. These tools bring technology and business together through innovative experiences, connect people and information, establish potential new routes to market, and enhance customer intimacy and brand awareness.

With the sort of growth, impact and adoption that social sites such Facebook and Twitter have had among businesses in the past year or so, it seems clear that the tools will continue to evolve and influence the business. They're not going away anytime soon.

Cisco, in its report, said there are still a number of issues that need to be addressed as it pertains to the "adoption, deployment and governance of social networking in the enterprise." They include: when, how and what initiatives are to be launched (and not launched); how the enabling technologies should be managed; and how employee use of these technologies should be managed.

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