You can't say Gartner is inconsistent.
Another analyst from the venerable research company has written a report highlighting the value that social software, which ranges from simple e-mail to social networks, social bookmarks, blogs and wikis, can have for enterprises.
Gartner analyst Jeffrey Mann isn't just advocating the use of enterprise-tailored social software, such as IBM's Lotus Connections, but specifically the popular consumer applications, such as Facebook, Wikipedia and Twitter, to improve employee workflow.
First, business executives, from the CEO to the CIO, need to stop denying that these applications are being used in their ranks, Mann said. They need to accept the fact that workers are updating their colleagues through Facebook or Twitter, and not condemn them for it.
"Although 25 percent of companies (according to an informal survey of firewall and network hygiene vendors) block access to social networking sites, companies cannot simply continue to ban access to such sites from the corporate network," Mann wrote in his report, "Bring Facebook, Wikipedia and Del.icio.us in-House: Why Consumer Social Software Is Better than for What You Are Paying," which he will present at the Gartner Symposium/ITxpo in Orlando in October.
Mann said company leaders should allow staff to be responsible for their content, rather than relying on technical controls to solve management issues.
Mann also said the key is to stop denying that the use is occurring, and to embrace and extend that use. One way to do that is for company leaders to spell out policies for acceptable software use:
"At a minimum, organizations need to have some kind of policy or some kind of idea of what they can be doing with those consumer sites, and there are some things that they can do directly with them, for example, using them as a portal to project some of their information into the sites that employees or customers already use."
Mann said such policies must be hammered out and enforced by company's public relations, legal and human resources departments, and, of course, management. Often, the lead orchestrator of such policies could come from the business group that most desires to leverage social software in its department.