IT should take control of Twitter and Facebook use
Organisations are struggling to establish rules and policies over social media use at work, according to a global report from Cisco.
Consumer social networks such as Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook were used by three-quarters of the 100 global firms surveyed by Cisco. Yet, only one in five had any policies in place governing use of social media tools and six in seven had no policies in place over deployment. This lack of governance leaves firms wide open to legal problems and abuse.
“We’ve moved beyond the honeymoon period and we now need some formal policies. Companies are struggling with policy creation and adoption and striking the balance between corporate, social and personal use,” said Neil Hair, assistant professor of marketing at Rochester Institute, one of the three business schools commissioned by Cisco to conduct the report.
IT has so far taken a back seat in proceedings, with just 1 in 10 IT departments having any direct involvement in their firm’s social media initiatives.
“It’s very similar to other new technologies launched in the past, such as Instant Messaging and Internet portals in the 90s. We saw a lot of departmental experimentation; each department went out and bought their package, but IT had to step in and establish a common platform,” said Hans Hwang, vice president of advanced services at Cisco, and another researcher involved in the project.
IT must now step up to the plate and lead their firms away using from consumer-based social networking tools to implementing enterprise-class tools with proper policies and controls in place.
“IT has at least two roles. One is to work cross-functionally with legal and HR to set the right polices and to make sure for example, that people aren’t posting things that are open to legal liabilities. The other one is to make sure they have a roadmap to roll out a common platform,” said Hwang.
Social media use was already unstoppable and had spread among the survey respondents beyond the expected areas of marketing and PR to other parts of the business, such as HR, customer service and sales. Smaller firms were found to have quickly recognised the power of social media and its ability to help them operate as if they were much larger players.
Research was carried out between April and September 2009 by 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 UK.