Enterprise 2.0: You Must Have Your Facebook and Secure It Too

by Mark Levitt, IDC

Saying no to workers who want to use interesting tools found on the Web for business purposes is not something that organizations and their IT staffs like doing. Failed attempts to ban or discourage use of consumer instant messaging networks taught organizations that it is not good for business (e.g. employee productivity and morale) to say no to workers who truly believe that they need tools such as Facebook or MySpace to collaborate and stay connected with clients, prospects, partners and others. The problem is that these and other Web tools tend to be designed for consumers who need only be responsible for themselves, not for workers whose online activities can have dire consequences for their organizations if the tools are used irresponsibly.

Fortunately, there is a growing amount of help available for organizations looking to allow their workers to use social media and other Web 2.0 tools responsibly without sacrificing security and other corporate requirements. Security firm FaceTime is helping organizations permit the use of Facebook gadgets and MySpace applications while preventing malware from entering the enterprise. Enterprise 2.0 solution provider Worklight is helping organizations permit workers to interact with Facebook users using the familiar Facebook user interface, all from the security of servers located behind corporate firewalls. IBM (Lotus Connections) and Socialcast follow in the footsteps of enterprise instant messaging that emulate consumer IM by combining social networks functionality with security and styling appropriate for business environments.

How far should organizations go to accommodate workers who want to use Web tools to do their jobs better? Should you support a request to post your company's valuable content on YouTube? IDC did just that for IDC Predictions 2008. What about letting your employees and customers use Twitter to keep track of what your sales and field support staff are doing in the interests of promoting closer client relationships and faster responses? These and other ideas may sound risky if there aren't policies backed by technology to help ensure that the Web tools are used appropriately. However, instant messaging taught us that not allowing your workers to try new tools could be even riskier for the health of your business in today's ultra-competitive marketplace.

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