Collaboration tools with social features provide a powerful foundation for sharing information and linking experts within your organization.
Social networking and user-contributed content have taken
the Internet by storm as evidenced by the popularity of MySpace, Facebook,
YouTube, Flickr, LinkedIn, Wikipedia and Twitter. Earlier this year, we looked
at the security risks of social networking on public sites. But that's not the
whole story. There's a revolution going on in enterprise collaboration software
to sift out the good parts-for example, subject tagging and user profiles-of
social networking and leave the threats and time wasters behind.
Enterprise collaboration projects are almost always risky
propositions. Storing and sharing information, potentially across departments
and across the world, holds unquantifiable rewards for the business. Yet, if
these rewards can't be realized by individuals, then the project risks failure.
Various techniques are used to increase user adoption-some good, such as
appointing internal champions, and some bad, such as making use mandatory (with
quotas)-but time and time again we've seen that the collaboration projects that
succeed are those that provide users with advantages. And by advantages we mean
things that make employees' lives easier such as locating the right person with
the right expertise for a project, facilitating the management of that project,
and providing a secure place to collaborate on that project using tools such as
document management, shared workspaces, task lists and discussion boards.
How can an IT department increase the chances of launching a
successful collaboration initiative? Use the tools that have taken the consumer
world by storm. Social networking holds a lot of power and potential for online
interaction, not just to better connect you with your long lost high school
pals and provide you with a place to show off photos of your kids, but also to
connect people with business goals in mind. These connections can be formed
between anyone from your immediate teammates to geographically dispersed but
still valuable colleagues in other parts of the company, or perhaps they can
help you establish relationships with partners.
However, as helpful as they are for linking people to share
information, public social networking sites are obviously the wrong place for
an organization to build these networks and collaborate through them. Issues
around control of information, regulatory compliance, governance and other
critical aspects of information security abound. As a result, enterprise
collaboration software such as Microsoft SharePoint, IBM
Lotus Connections and Oracle WebCenter Suite (not to mention offerings from
Cisco, Novell and Salesforce) has picked up more and more social features to
harness the power of social networking-like interactions. There are many others
that have jumped into this space with either software or SAAS
(software-as-a-service) offerings, such as Google Apps, Box.net, Huddle.com and
Matthew D. Sarrel, CISSP, is a network security,product development, and technical marketingconsultant based in New York City. He is also a gamereviewer and technical writer. To read his opinions on games please browse http://games.mattsarrel.com and for more general information on Matt, please see http://www.mattsarrel.com.