Facebook in the Enterprise

Once upon a time, employees had restricted access to the phone. When email arrived, users faced further restrictions- often, you could only email someone in the same company. Many organisations currently place restrictions upon access to Facebook – why?

Our methods of communication are becoming quicker all the time. We started with the letter, moved onto fax, then email, and we are now moving towards IM (and in some extreme cases microblogging applications such as Twitter). Even our news consumption is becoming faster and less centralised through the use of these tools, as we snub news sources such as BBC and CNN in favour of decentralised citizen journalists. (For example, the Hudson plane crash was ‘Twittered’ and pictures were also posted on Twitpic).

As we demand ever faster interaction, traditional methods of communication are used much less frequently- when was the last time you faxed anything, for instance? To some extent even email falls by the wayside in this era of instant messaging. Facebook takes advantage of the need for rapid communication and provides a platform to facilitate this. It allows IM, profiles and groups, along with systems which can invite people to take part in activities, share documents (including pictures) and even host conference calls for free.

I can see huge value in an enterprise tool that allows the employees to build a profile of their skills and interests, and update it with information about current projects. This tool could provide disparate employees with a platform to share pictures and documents and facilitate the formation of communities or teams working on particular tasks. It would allow people to easily find help from others with similar interests, or those who happen to be working on a similar (or worse, duplicate!) project.

Collaboration is one of the keys to success and the required tools are out there. So why aren’t organisations embracing Facebook – or at the least installing an internal version of it? Is it down to the same fears that restricted access to the telephone- perhaps a reluctance to trust employees to use their time and tools judiciously?

Also posted here: Orange Business Live

2 thoughts on “Facebook in the Enterprise

  1. From my own past experience with corporate IT, there are 3 reasons I can think of for why they don’t embrace social media sites like Facebook:

    1 – They don’t understand it, and don’t take the time to. As a result, media hype (aka all of the bad things about it is all they know.

    2 – Risk of confidential information showing up on there – But if that is the case, they may as well block every blog, forum Web site too!

    3 – Laziness – Some corporate IT departments are lazy, and rather than explore something, they just block it – end of story.

    The above, of course, are some of the reasons why I started my own business!

    mp/m

  2. If you’re a coprorate network administrator or even ‘just’ a line manager and you se eyour personnel on facebook discussing their plans fo rthe weekend, or playing MobWars, sending each other virtual presents etc – then you would understandably take a dim view of it. If we’re all responsible corporate citizens and only use it for business purposes… then that’s not FaceBook unfortunately..”You’re living in a dream world”

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