Friday, 18 July 2008

Social Networking Flattening the World

This morning I read an interesting short article, titled: "Vive la revolution", by David Lavenda of WorkLigh, which is published in the BCS's IT NOW magazine.

The claim is that social networking or "communities collaborating on online projects" can be portrayed as the most disruptive force flattening the world. The key here is that it is proliferating not only social, i.e. personal, grounds but Enterprise as well.

First, I found the following stats fascinating:

  • As of February 2008, Facebook had 66 million subscribers
  • New Facebook subscribers are at a rate of 250,000 per day
  • The single growing demographic on Facebook is people over 25 years old
  • Facebook officials claim that they have:
        • 30,000 subscribers that work in Microsoft
        • 33,000 from IBM
        • 20,000 from Accenture
  • MySpace logged 110 million unique visitors in January 2008
  • Facebook logged over 100 million
  • Facebook unique audience in the UK grew by over 7 million in one year, reaching over 8.5 million in 2008

The article then highlights the importance of not to undermine the impact of social networks on the Enterprise. It is inevitable that employees will introduce services that will expose their organisations to security threats.

David notes that organisations, typically, adopt one or more of the following approaches:

  • Raise the drawbridge - forbidding the use of social networking sites completely
  • Ignore the phenomenon - do nothing either to prevent or guide usage
  • Provide enterprise 'look-a-like' internal networks - examples like company dynamic Intranet pages (This approach I myself am quite familiar with)
  • Permit limited use of these Web 2.0 tools, subject to policy - most forward looking strategies

I have not yet seen or read of someone singling out one of these approaches as the way forward. My instinct tells me that it is definitely not a "do nothing" one.