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Like this article? We recommend Be Prepared to Respond to Barriers

Be Prepared to Respond to Barriers

Approaching a business executive with a project to implement social software inside the organization could be a career-limiting move. While you're thinking "improved collaboration and knowledge sharing," executives may be thinking "time-wasting activities like Facebook and fantasy football."

Are those fears real? Maybe, especially if the executive read the October 26, 2009 article in Computerworld reporting on a UK study that said employees using Twitter, Facebook, and other social networks in the office are costing UK businesses more than $2.25 billion in lost productivity. [1] Of course, that isn't the whole story. Moreover, it's not totally clear that the time spent on these sites (an average of 40 minutes per day in the study) isn't work-related.

As you think about deploying SharePoint's social computing features, think about what the barriers might be in your organization, and be prepared to respond to those objections. But don't use potential barriers as an excuse to avoid deploying the community features. In many companies, cultural resistance to empowering employees with social technologies is fairly strong, but that just means that the first tip in this article—ensuring that you have a business problem to solve—is even more important.

One barrier that I frequently hear executives express is a fear that employees will post "inappropriate comments" in their status updates—meaning comments that are not work-related or that breach confidentiality. In a 2010 research report published by the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, researchers examined the use of microblogging (status posts) inside and outside the workplace at IBM. Inside the enterprise, IBMers use a solution called "Blue Twit." Externally, these same employees use Twitter. The study found that inside the company, people mostly used the social computing tool to post information and engage in brief directed conversations, not so much about status updates—for example, what someone ate for lunch—as about questions related to work. Most importantly, the researchers found that there was absolutely no ambiguity about posting confidential information—everyone exercised common sense and acknowledged that they would not post on either platform any content that might be considered confidential. And no one indicated any difficulty in determining what was confidential. [2]

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