Social Networking – The Bigger Picture

A Computer Weekly survey indicates that organisations are more concerned about the impact of social networking on employee productivity than on security or reputation damage. As usual they are missing the bigger picture, which is the potential for fraud, social engineering, data leakage and, more importantly, the progressive transfer of influence over policy and decision making from corporate centres to networked staff. You might think that’s power to the people but it’s really power to well-organised minority interest groups. Social networking is also fiendishly difficult to police. It represents a step change in the erosion of barriers between business and personal lifestyles. That’s much, much harder to measure and manage than employee productivity.

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This is the kind of short-minded view that is pure scaremongering and actually has a negative effect. Social networking sites when used at lunch and before and after work (ie used properly and in accordance to regulation)ensures that employees are actually at their desks, taking calls and generally being availible for work outside of contracted hours. A ban on social netwroking sites means that employees will leave work premises and corporate networks to use sites (myspace/ facebook etc) thus taking control completely outside of a companies policing poicies giving no control at all to content,security etc etc etc. It also means that employees will take full lunch times and will arrive at 09:00 and finish at 17:00 so they can go home/ to public ternminals to use the sites.
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Interesting point. I agree that it's always best to encourage staff to stay inside the building, though I doubt they'd all be able to squeeze into a nearby cyber cafe. In my experience, IT productivity is rarely a priority concern to organisations. It's virtually impossible to argue a business case for IT on the grounds of increased productivity, unless you can guarantee job losses. Most accountants are wise to the old IT trick of adding up small savings in time for large numbers of staff in order to justify IT investment. It rarely makes a difference to the bottom line. I'd be interested to hear compelling arguments that help make the business case. Personally I'm in favour of encouraging social networking at work. But you have to manage the downside risks. This is not easy for organisations who have yet to identity them, never mind address them. I carried out a survey of acceptable use policies in over 50 organisations earlier this year, and the situation is dire. Not one of them had addressed Web 2.0 applications or communicated their existing corporate policy to employees. We have a long way to go.
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