Friday, September 26, 2008

Scary, scary software



When talking about the potential benefits of social software in an enterprise context as Henrik and I do in our awareness seminars, we often need to stress the importance of looking at both value and risk, and to first look at value and then risk. The reason is that many people automatically only see risk when they are confronted with something that is new to them (and might require them to change in one way or another).

I found this excellent post, "Keep Your Scary Software Out of the Workplace!" by Laurie Buczek at the IT at Intel Blog via Bertrand Duperrin that gives us a glimpse into the history of communication:

If you answered "yes" to blocking social sites and not finding business value in social software, then this is a MUST read! It shows that sometimes reactions to change are more out of fear, than logic. We are taking it as food for thought as Intel attempts to take our investment and usage of social software to the next level. Below are the article's key takeaways (re-published):

Email has no place at work (1994)
It’s clearly used for goofing off. The last thing I want are my employees wasting my money emailing each other. What’s the use case for email at work? What’s the ROI?Who else is doing it? See industry article

Internet access has no place at work (1996)
Giving employees access to the internet would be a massive productivity problem. Not to mention there are huge security concerns. What’s the reason employees should be allowed to cybersurf? See industry article

eCommerce is too high a risk for our company (1998)
Our company can’t afford the risk associated with opening ourselves up to new, unproven channels or even hacking. There are a lot of thieves online. Why would someone buy our products on the World Wide Web? See industry article

Instant Messaging has no place at work (2002)
It’s a massive distraction. Interruptions cost billions each year. Employees shouldn’t be allowed to spend time chatting all day work. Instant messaging has massive productivity loss implications. See industry article

Social Software has no place at work (2005)
It’s clearly used for goofing off. The last thing I want are my employees wasting my money blogging or networking with each other. What’s the use case for social software at work? See industry article

Obviously, many people and organizations seem to be stuck in the late 90ies, having adopted e-mail as the primary communication tool at work. But they have not yet understood the value of real-time text-based communication as a complement to communication via phone or e-mail, or realized that social software is really about supporting, strenghtening and managing the ever so important informal networks that we all rely on to be successful.