SHOULD BUSINESS EMBRACE SOCIAL NETWORKING? by ProQuest

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Social networking for the enterprise is booming. The sector is unquestionably adding revenues for new providers, adding jobs at old companies, and adding profits throughout the industry. Susan Etlinger, VP at The Horn Group, a firm specializing in digital communications for technology companies, says the top areas for enterprise activity on the social web are lead generation, customer service, brand value expansion, competitive intelligence, and innovation management. Some of the pitfalls of engaging in social media come from how the medium is distinct from any other type of business engagement in the past. Certain fears seem justified. To achieve results that meet the rigorous requirements of enterprise privacy policies, companies are flocking to build in-house solutions that do not reside on the public Web. The benefits of using new social media technologies often relate to the management of new content by getting it to the right people at the right time.

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									Carolina K. Reid




   SHOULD BUSINESS
              ocial networking for the enterprise is booming. The sector is

      S
                                                                              privacy policies of these sites. Facebook’s terms of service
              unquestionably adding revenues for new providers, adding        explicitly state that the content posted there is the property of
              jobs at old companies, and adding profits throughout the        Facebook. Thus, even if a profile is deleted, the content that was
      industry. In a wave that seemed to begin in earnest just 18 months      posted remains on the site. Hence the phrase “What happens in
      ago, enterprises now embrace these tools to achieve better (and         the Facebook, stays in the Facebook,” made popular in a
      less expensive) results across most major business functions despite    YouTube video and recently discussed on ABC’s The View.
      fears over losing control of company secrets.                              Despite cautionary tales, Tim Walker, analyst and host of
          For most companies today, the advantages seem to outweigh the       Hoover’s Business Insight Zone, points out that the risks of
      risks. Ed Keating, VP of the content division of the Software &         staying on the sidelines may be a lost opportunity, “Folks are
      Information Industry Association (SIIA), sees a strong trend toward     probably talking about you anyway on Twitter, so it’s just an
      the medium, saying, “Social media is where a lot of companies are       opportunity to be part of the conversation.”
      trying to go.” Truly, today’s recession feels somehow remote from          Soumitra Dutta, co-author of the book Throwing Sheep in the
      the industry surrounding social media. With a mood that is robust,      Boardroom, credits the rise in social networking technology with
      there is a feeling of a “new frontier opening up, with the early        three trends: a growth in e-skills with increased access to
      adopters, the purists complaining of the businesses, and profiteers     technology, a generational shift in demographics toward a
      now at the gate,” surmises Keating. Meanwhile, new companies            growing population that favors openness, and “an innate human
      and new services continue to appear with surprising speed. Indeed,      desire” to establish an identity and a standing in a community. His
      it is beginning to feel like 1999 all over again.                       view as to why the social medium is on fire is that it is a technology
          Susan Etlinger, VP at The Horn Group, a firm specializing in        that “catches up and unleashes human behavior on a global scale.”
      digital communications for technology companies, says the top           Working as a consultant to IBM, Dutta saw a major shift in one
      areas for enterprise activity on the social web are lead generation,    corporation’s culture aided by social media. When IBM’s chairman
      customer service, brand value expansion, competitive intelligence,      and CEO, Sam Palmisano, took over, he created a community
      and innovation management.                                              website to gather ideas on company strategy despite heavy
          Some of the pitfalls of engaging in social media come from how      pushback from the Old Guard. “He succeeded in getting a large-
      the medium is distinct from any other type of business engagement       scale engagement on the values of the company and what they
      in the past. Etlinger, echoing a view generally held throughout the     should be,” enthuses Dutta.
      medium, cautions, “The rules for social media are social. For              To achieve results that also meet the rigorous requirements of
      instance, you would not walk up to someone in the street, ask her       enterprise privacy policies, companies are flocking to build in-house
      for an opinion, and then walk away. You have to complete the            solutions that do not reside on the public web. Rob Koplowitz,
      dialogue.” In a traditional form of data gathering, the focus group,    principal analyst at
								
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