Facebook, Lotus Connections to Co-exist

By Clint Boulton  |  Posted 2008-09-26 Print this article Print

When it's all said and done, employees need to be accountable for how they use social software, as Mann noted: "If you wouldn't talk about an unannounced product at a cocktail party, don't talk about it on Wikipedia. That takes care of a large proportion of the problems."

One positive exercise in adapting Facebook for the enterprise is Faceforce, a connector for Salesforce.com's AppExchange that pulls Facebook profile information into Salesforce account, lead and contact records in real time, providing users with photos and other personal details of participating customers, prospects and business associates.

When Avenue A/Razorfish needed a tool to combine the projects and knowledge of its employees in 19 offices worldwide, Mann said, it concocted a hybrid wiki-and-blog platform as a central repository for sharing ideas and content. The platform leverages e-mail threads, blogs and deliverables, making them part of a searchable database for employees.
As I think I've made clear, I'm all for responsible social software use in businesses. Why wouldn't I be? Twitter is an invaluable tool, which my colleagues and I use to pitch our stories and blog posts to the public. In that regard, I find it infinitely more useful and less time-consuming than Facebook.

One thing nibbled at my brain. Facebook, Twitter, Wikipedia, Delicious and Digg have millions of users. Most corporate-oriented social applications, such as Lotus Connections or products from Jive Software, Awareness and others, are unlikely to achieve the scale of the consumer apps.

With that nugget in mind, I asked Mann if these consumer apps might eclipse the apps tailored for enterprises, rendering them obsolete. But IBM, Jive and Awareness can rest easy. Mann said there is a place for both types of apps.

For example, banks, law firms and other corporations with highly sensitive or proprietary information will prefer to leverage social apps with guaranteed enterprise-grade security. Mann said:

If you're on an merger and acquisitions team, you don't want to be tagging information about what companies you want to acquire on Del.icio.us. There is nothing inherently risky in the technology itself-archiving, audit trails, scalability and other enterprise software qualities apply here, too. Much of what goes on within an organization will need to be restricted, while other activities may not belong in a social software environment at all.

Of course, not even iron-clad enterprise apps will prevent foolish employees from libeling, slandering or spilling trade secrets. But life is full of wild cards, and you can't throw out every social application baby with the bathwater, so to speak.


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