Source: BBC / Paul Butler

Social media platforms like Facebook and Google+ are fast becoming a big topic for business. Consumers are embracing these communication and collaboration channels for more than just sharing holiday memories. According to software provider Invesp, one-third of workers use social media at work for at least an hour a day. Most of us also expect to use these collaboration channels increasingly in our work environments to improve the information flow.

We want to communicate at work as we are used to communicating when off work – with or without the consent of our employers. Today, however, Invesp data shows that less than 20% of companies have integrated social media with their customer care, sales or product development. Moreover, communication culture is part of business culture and work flexibility and as such impacts any business’ endeavor to attract and retain creative talent. Data by office solutions vendor Intelligent Office, indicates that 25% of people say they would not work for a company that does not allow social media at work.

For IT and business leaders, these social dynamics bring their own opportunities and challenges, as social media communication:

  • Provides an innovative and attractively priced communication infrastructure.Top management and business line managers alike increasingly recognize that social media forms a fundamental channel for informal communications. Social media offers cost effective collaboration and communication channels.
  • Opens collaboration channels for supplier relationships. Large businesses do not collaborate with large companies only but also with smaller ones – and vice versa. Large enterprises interact with small suppliers or smaller customers that increasingly use social media collaboration solutions.
  • Morphs into collaboration ecosystems.The emerging communication and collaboration solutions are based on the convergence of services (like document collaboration) by one provider, with communication and collaboration solutions (like voice, screen sharing, and instant messaging) from another provider in a partnership-type model.
  • Can pose security or compliance risks. Social media communication services can trigger security risks due to their peer-to-peer nature. Clients become serviceproviders for services like conferencing. Hence, in a peer-to-peer world, users also host the group services.
  • Requires a rethink of communication policy and governance. IT and business leaders need to decide which over-the-top (OTT) communication solutions they should allow which staff members to use, under which conditions, and for which purpose.
  • We believe that eventually, most IT and business leaders will opt for a policy of allowing the usage of social media for most work situations. However, in some sectors, IT and business leaders will need to put limits in place on usage and develop clear usage policies.

If your current topic of interest is consumerization of enterprise IT or innovative collaboration environments, then read my report The Rise Of Personal Communication and Wave.