Friday, February 15, 2008

Enterprise Social Networking: It Has Value!

There is a constant battle sage brewing over the concept of including an enterprise social networking application within organizations. Top level executives have been arguing whether it has any real business value and IT departments claim it brings about too many security risks. As the new generation of young executives rise into power, social networking apps like Facebook, Plaxo, and Google will become increasingly popular collaboration tools in the enterprise.

I came across this article on ZdNet, which includes a thought from Harvard Business School professor Andrew McAfee. He explains why certain Enterprise tools are still not being accepted in organizations:

"We need to keep in mind that most E2.0 tools are new, and that their acceptance depends on shifts in perspective on the part of business leaders and decision makers, shifts for which the word ‘seismic’ might not be an overstatement. Enterprise 2.0 tools have no inherent respect for organizational boundaries, hierarchies, or job titles. They facilitate self-organization and emergent rather than imposed structure. They require line managers, compliance officers, and other stewards to trust that users will not deliberately or inadvertently use them inappropriately. They require these stewards to become comfortable with collaboration environments that “practice the philosophy of making it easy to correct mistakes, rather than making it difficult to make them” as Jimmy Wales has said. They require, in short, the re-examination and often the reversal of many longstanding assumptions and practices. It is not in the least disrespectful or contemptuous of today’s managers to say that it will take them some time to get used to this."

Out of all Web 2.0 tools, social networking still receives the most skepticism. In our previous post we discuss how companies like BEA have incorporated a Facebook-like social solution to ease collaboration and sharing of documents, and how has launched its social networking platform Ideaforce to share ideas on product development. If companies like these can find value in enterprise networking, other businesses are missing out on its benefits. Clearly, organizations are slowly catching on, but not quick enough...

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