Social networking continuing to cause friction within Web 2.0 working environments

The management of employees needs to be considered when moving to a Web 2.0 structure.

Speaking on Web 2.0 at the SC Magazine Unknown and Emerging Online Threats conference, Mark Murtagh, product director at Websense, claimed that companies face the dilemma of trying to follow it or packing up due to the pace of evolution.

Murtagh asked the delegates why there was a need to leverage Web 2.0, was it to be more consumer centric or more for enterprise services? He claimed that this led to two major benefits - to communicate and to drive correlation across business, particularly if you want to solicit feedback like never before and exchange information with customers.

However Web 2.0, and social networking in particular, led to IT managers being 'caught in the middle of two pressures'.

Murtagh said: “Staff have used this technology in their lives and want a collaboration portal and demand access, while at an executive level they understand the demand and want to leverage services to drive cost down and have heard about it and don't want to miss the boat.”

With regard to the option of blocking social networking sites, Murtagh pointed to research that asked if the sites were blocked, how would the staff react? He said that two-thirds would react negatively with three reasons cited: the company cannot attract new talent that expect and demand services, it would annoy existing employees or that the business relies on these services.

Murtagh said: “Biggest majority of responses said that if we could restrict use then we can see better levels of productivity. We're providing levels of communication to employees, but the reality of Web 2.0 has had a massive impact on employers and fundamentally there is a lack of visibility over the content stream and many are faced with the dilemma of facing access or not.

“You cannot always trust the source of information to analyse it and decide that it is clean, then the chatter begins between the employee and a member of the outside world. How many people are inspecting chatter through browser?”

Also speaking was Peter Bassill, group information security officer at Gala Coral Group, who claimed that the company had blocked social networking for one week and saw some staff using proxies to gain access. This led Gala Coral Group to use a granular approach and asked each manager about their staff needs.

Bassill said: “There has got to be technology controls around this, but hard to get companies to buy into new equipment and controls only coming to a point where they are mature, but technology can only respond to what we write a policy for.”

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