Social Media & IT Governance

“‘IT departments make the mistake of ignoring social media at one extreme or banning it at the other, when what they really need is a risk based strategy’, says Gartner research director Julie Short.”

She is of course correct. I’ve been arguing, since the appearance of Instant Messenger as a killer social media application, that it’s a mistake for IT departments to simply lock down or prohibit the use of new media and communications channels in the enterprise.

There are three reasons for this.

The first is that stopping people using applications which they already know will make communication quicker, easier, more dynamic and more effective makes IT departments appear Luddite – which is not exactly in line with what one might expect from that part of the business which is in charge of technology-based competitiveness.

The second is that good people will mostly tend to go and work for organisations that use technologies that they know about, rather than being forced to operate with outdated tools. And those organisations that limit themselves to recruiting from amongst the less ambitious will tend, over time, to destroyed by those who are more future-orientated.

The third, of course, is that we live and work in a fast-moving Internet world; organisations that prohibit or over-control use of social media technologies are cutting themselves out of competition and, eventually, out of business.

I recognise that there are risks – to the confidentiality, integrity and availability of information – in the unbridled use of new social media within an enterprise. A risk-based strategy involves identifying specific risks, adopting appropriate policies, selecting and enforcing relevant controls, and reviewing and monitoring activity. We made all of these tools available in our Social Media Governance Toolkit, on the basis that what most organisations want today is to deploy the controls and get on with exploiting the social media channel, rather than having to re-invent the social media policy wheel.