Is the enterprise ready for social networking?

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When you think of social media as applied to the enterprise, you probably think of companies adopting more social networking, Web 2.0 offerings on their consumer-facing websites. But what about social software within the enterprise? Executives are "flat-out skeptical of social software," reports the Harvard Business Review, courtesy of Bloomberg. "When most non-IT executives hear 'social software,' they stop listening at 'social' and imagine internet-aided water cooler chatter. They fear the loss of worker productivity--digital technology provides a seemingly endless array of distractions in the workplace," notes the Review.

Executives also fear a loss of confidentiality and a network for personal grievances. "This is a shame because social software can be tightly linked to business performance improvement ... One of a leading manufacturing company's business units reduced the hours required to ensure Sarbanes-Oxley compliance by 61 percent through the targeted use of social software. These are measurable numbers with real financial value," the Review notes.

The idea is to foster communications at a more efficient and powerful level. You could easily argue that much of the compliance process within a team boils down to communication, problem solving and shared resources. If you can deploy software to this end in terms of compliance, there would have to be benefits. But it would have to include a disparate bunch the IT guys, the compliance officers, management and so on. Compliance may not be the most compelling reason to adopt this form of interaction.  

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