Idea Lab: Employees want social networking tools

Where evolving concepts come together

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A Cisco-sponsored survey of 2,800 college students and professionals under 30 shows the majority will “follow” or “friend” their co-workers and managers on Facebook and Twitter, indicating that millennials will freely intertwine their personal and professional lives with social networking tools.

Cisco’s second annual Connected World Technology Report also shows 66% of students and 58% of professionals consider a mobile device their most important technology, even more important than television. In the 2010 edition of the study, 60% of employees globally said offices are unnecessary for productivity.

Cisco focused the survey on students and young professionals so that the company can “develop solutions that help IT prepare for the next-generation workforce,” said Scott Gainey, Cisco’s director of mobility product marketing. Enterprise social networking tools Cisco has already come to the table with enterprise social networking software in Cisco Quad, but Gainey said the company must continue to invest in these efforts. As an example of an expanded use of social networking tools in the enterprise, Gainey explained how Cisco and other companies are proactively mining social networking communities for customer service complaints as users increasingly turn to these forums for support.

“It’s not that they are dissatisfied with traditional call-in [customer service], but they’re finding there is a peer base of people they can draw on and get questions answered more quickly,” said Gainey. 

Eventually, enterprise social networking tools will enable corporate community space with wikis, blogs, live chat and collaboration that allow users to pull mission-critical data and applications into the shared forum.

Enterprise mobility

“The traditional applications that people are using today [on mobile devices] are mostly email and collaboration, and these sit outside the firewall. But that changes if you start to look at some of these new core applications like Informatica’s new cloud integration application where you [reach into] the internal workings of the data centre,” said Gainey. “We’re seeing a convergence of mobile technology with social networking and core applications.”

In addition, as demand for enterprise mobility grows, Cisco will be looking for ways to stretch security across enterprise Wi-Fi and cellular networks.

“We have to look at how we can build trusted networks not just for conventional IT but for service providers, and then how can we link those so that data can be secured,” said Gainey. “That’s where I think you will see the majority of investment in the coming year.”

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