In a new study Cisco has warned that Facebook and Twitter use in enterprises requires much greater governance and oversight
Cisco commissioned three business schools, the IESE Business School in Spain, E. Philip Saunders College of Business at the Rochester Institute of Technology in the US, and Henley Business School in the United Kingdom, to assess how companies use consumer-facing social networking tools to share information.
Researchers from the schools conducted interviews with 105 participants from 97 organisations in 20 countries between April and September 2009. Participating companies included tape maker 3M UK & Ireland, photo giant Kodak Company, healthcare IT concern Cerner Corporation and new media marketer Carrot Creative.
Of the companies interviewed, 75 percent admitted to using Facebook and other consumer-facing social networks, while 50 percent of respondents admitted to using Twitter extensively in the workplace, Neil Hair, assistant professor of marketing at Rochester Institute of Technology, told eWEEK.
Use of these tools is spread across diverse business departments, from marketing and public relations, to human resources and sales and customer service groups.
The use of these tools in businesses ranges from regular to rampant, yet Hair said only one in seven of the companies that participated in the research admitted to having a formal process associated with using consumer-facing social networking tools for business purposes.
Moreover, only one in 10 respondents reported direct involvement from their IT staffs in corporate social networking initiatives.
Leaving IT staffs out of the mix seems counterintuitive for companies who rely on these experts to secure their proprietary data, which can be compromised by the social networks employees use.
The results come two months after Cisco began its first official foray into enterprise social networking with Cisco Enterprise Collaboration Platform, Show and Share video application and Pulse network tagging software.
These offerings, along with technologies from acquisitions such as WebEx and Tandberg, will be supported by Cisco’s IOS (Internetwork Operating System) in private cloud environments.
Ideally, Cisco will use the info from the study to lure more enterprises to its social software, supported by Cisco services, Nick Earle, senior vice president for Cisco Services in Europe, told eWEEK in a recent interview.
Earle said that with no standard practice for governing use of Facebook, Twitter and other consumer services, IT departments heads find themselves clashing with employees who are using these tools because they prefer they not use them. “These are two ends of the same problem,” Earle said.
“It’s almost as if the IT department has been bypassed entirely with the use of these sorts of tools,” Hair added.
The unstructured nature of social networking, Earle and Hair noted, makes it harder for companies to struggle with policy creation and adoption. Borrowing governance processes from IT won’t work for social networking.