Reality Check for Social Media

In my daily RSS reading, I came across an article from entitled “CIOs Still Fear Web 2.0 for the Enterprise”. I bring this to attention as my recent writing has been focused on more advanced services like lifestreaming and the semantic web. The corporate demographics of the survey are nicely distributed:

The majority (43 percent) were from companies with 5,000 or more employees. The rest broke down as follows: 18 percent had 1,000-4,999 employees; 23 percent had 100-999; and 13 percent came from companies with fewer than 100 people.

Given this distribution, I figured this would be a good sample survey of Corporate America. I think that when people play with sites that are on the leading edge, they tend to forget what the rest of the world is doing. This is especially true when the technology is even more bleeding edge like the semantic web. The line does seem to get a little fuzzy with technologies about to reach their tipping point. A case in point is social media and the current king Digg. Those of us using sites like Digg tend to think that everyone uses Digg. Yahoo has proved that wrong already with their launch of Buzz, and how much more traffic it generates. So, what does a corporation do with sites considered web 2.0?

Only 30 percent of IT decision makers said they offered wikis as a corporate application. A mere 23 percent offered blogs, while18 percent utilized RSS. Only 10 percent of respondents brought social networks into the enterprise.

Those are slightly unpleasant numbers, as the collaboration and discussion that evolves with these technologies is a tremendous benefit. So what about external access to these types of sites?

35 percent said they shut them down as soon as they detect them, while 36 percent monitored them for risk and 29 percent studied the business case for mainstreaming the particular technology.

And these numbers are highly unpleasant. When many of your employees want to use a technology, and you shut them down as soon as they are detected, you tend to diminish the morale of your employees. More surprising is the general consensus that these types of sites are a risk and generally bad for business.

As I chat with my fellow users of social media, I think I am going to point out that not everyone is using the leading edge sites. Maybe focusing on how businesses can take advantage of these sites can give us new functionality that we would not have thought of. Or, if enough consumers desire more access to a certain site or technology, maybe businesses will be forced to allow it. In any case, it is good for everyone to see “how the other half” lives. In your next discussion, maybe you will look at a different angle than you would normally have. Or maybe you just think that corporations are going the way of dinosaurs.

4 thoughts on “Reality Check for Social Media

  1. I think I have the opposite problem when it comes to my interactions with people in the real world. I’m always amazed when people have heard of social media sites beyond Myspace, but then again, I’m not really a tech person.

    A lot of the jargon escapes me . . . But I like your writing style! I hope to someday meet a fellow mixxer in person. Wouldn’t that be wild? I mean, aside from my husband.


  2. @Julie
    Thanks for reading! You do have a slightly tech bias given what your husband knows. So I wouldn’t be surprised if you knew many people ahead of the curve.

    As far as meeting other mixxers, that would be very cool. I am just surprised at how spread out we are. Oh, and thanks for the writing props. I am a certified geek, so writing can tend to be a bit difficult.


  3. I am glad you wrote this article. If more CIO’s were aware of other than what is in thier trade magazines, it could benefit them. At the company I work at I have been recognized a few time for using other more up-to-date technology. Little do these people know that the information I get and knowledge I gain comes from Social Media sites, wikis, and tech forums. I have been explaining this to top decision makers and they are beginning to listen. The thing is, to have to ball rolling in your company, you have got to prove the worth of the site, wiki, or forum. If you do research at home and start making innovations at work, when asked you can say,”Hey, I found the info at home on Mixx, Digg, TechCrunch, ARS Technica, whatever.” So it really is time for old school CIO’s to embrace the new world, because if they don’t they are most likely to FAIL!


  4. @SilentJay74
    The main issue I have is the reasoning for not allowing the technologies. First is security. All these big companies feel like someone is going to send trade secrets to a competitor through gmail. If you give employees access to a VPN from home, security is a non-issue. The second is productivity. I can understand this when it comes to social media sites as they are highly addictive. However, not allowing access to email due to “productivity losses” is lame. That just means you do not trust your employees to get their work done. That could be true in some environments, but I would think if you give people some power they might just use it for good.


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