Social Media and Information Technology in Enterprises
Social media’s horizon has far crossed the notion of it simply being an alternative for interacting with end customers or just being another tool that lets consumers to share, engage and interact with others. It has started influencing businesses in areas including, but not limited to, innovation, collaboration, marketing, analytics and branding. In industry today, with almost four out of five companies already using or planning to use social media it is evident that social media has become mainstream in the enterprise IT sector.
This article briefly highlights, in addition to the benefits and challenges that this extended horizon has to offer the enterprise IT sector, strategies to embrace and manage social media in an enterprise.
Business and social processes have started to merge – deriving new business capabilities and defining innovative paradigms. One of such paradigms is IT consumerization, which boasts usage of social media by enterprises to change the way businesses operate and the nature by which they interact. Below is a cursory glance at some of the benefits that such paradigms offer.
Keeping mobile workers connected, keeping the enterprise in touch with consumers through social networking, Social networking websites reduce the amount of time it takes for a job to be completed because they cut down the amount of time it takes for employees and management to contact each other.
Innovation and collaboration
Corporate social networks having varied intellectual information heaps fosters knowledge sharing, hassle free information acquisition, grouping like-minded individuals and companies in search for industry specific wisdom, advice and expertise.
Marketing, Branding and Analytics
Social media networks span cities, nations and continents thereby providing a huge customer base. Leveraging the advanced analytic capabilities of social media tools, enterprises can gain precise insights on customer’s unique requirements, geographies and other information significant to a product’s branding and marketing.
Undoubtedly, enterprises and masses, today, has benefited with the rapid adoption of social media networks and applications. However, none can deny the threats that come along.
Threats typically appear as challenges related to, decreased productivity, bandwidth and storage consumption, potential legal liability, exposure to malware, disclosure of personal information and the risk of leaking corporate secrets. Let’s examine these challenges in more detail.
Speaking of Trust in the internet world is to consider what has been said or displayed on a web portal as valid, reliable and correct in all respects. But how can one, be it enterprise or an individual, build trust on social media networks where so much has been written by so many? For instance, how does an enterprise know that these customers are the genuine customers?
Affecting employee’s productivity
Employees’ frequent visits to social websites for long duration results in distraction from work and hinders efficiency. Therefore, visiting social media websites during work hours deteriorates productivity.
Security, Confidentiality and Inappropriate usage
Accessing social networking websites, alongside email and other enterprise proprietary software, slows down the servers and increases security risks through duplex data transmission with external entities. Moreover, employees discussing their work freely in open environment may risk confidential data leakage and competitor advantage. An example of which is Twitter traffic being analyzed or mined to build competitor insights.
Legal liabilities, Reputation and Privacy
Enterprises, being aware of local laws and culture that prevails in the locality, are subjected to adhere to concerned laws and regulations while publishing or announcing statements in public. Employees, however, may or may not be aware of such legalities and may post something not acceptable on their own personal/social blogs or forums. Say, if an employee were to be angry, or have had a bad day, they might be inclined to take their anger out online. Such behavior could affect a company’s reputation or may include bullying, commenting to harass or defame a particular individual thus affecting their privacy.
Strategies to embrace and manage social media in an Enterprise
The above challenges and benefits of social media can be grouped into two main groups: Enterprise external and internal. Strategies, as discussed below, can be developed by IT to embrace social media in both the groups creatively.
Enterprise External or Public social networks
Awareness: Enterprises must increase awareness among its employees about the implications of using social media with the help of proper guidelines detailing what to leverage and refrain from!
Monitoring: Employees learning about social traffic across the firewall being monitored may instill a sense of responsibility for one’s own activities on social websites.
Blocking: Blocking social websites often seems to be the easiest way that should work but results in sacrificing the benefits as well.
Enterprise Internal social networks
Training and Awareness: Management should train employees about the best practices regarding activities that can be performed on social networks to obtain highest level of benefits concerning innovation, collaboration, communication etc.
Enterprise social enablement – Leveraging power of social media: Extracting all benefits of social media and avoiding associated risks at the same time, the best possible way, for enterprises is to build custom software’s which entails necessary social media features.
Another, a proven cost and resource effective, alternative could be to use existing enterprise social networks such as Yammer, SharePoint 2013, Oracle WebCenter Social, IBM Lotus Notes etc. well known for their social enterprise capabilities.
In conclusion, IT Enterprises with honed strategies to embrace challenges coming along social media can dramatically exaggerate the benefits pouring through the merger of social and IT.