Facebook, the social networking application, is increasingly being adopted by businesspeople. College kids use it to organize parties, make friends, share photos, and pursue relationships--but what's any of that got to do with the workplace? How the social networking model is applied to business will determine whether it becomes the next office collaboration tool or the latest Web app to get blocked at the firewall.
Hinting at the potential of social networking at work, thousands of employees of Shell Oil, Procter & Gamble, and General Electric have Facebook accounts. A Facebook network of Citigroup employees--only those with Citigroup e-mail accounts can join--has 1,870 users. Procter & Gamble employees use Facebook to keep interns in touch and share information with co-workers attending company events.
Further evidence of Facebook's rise among the business card crowd: People over 24 are its fastest-growing demographic.
Still, there are reasons for business and technology managers to be wary of Facebook, as well as MySpace, LinkedIn, and other social networking apps. They can sap employee productivity or, worse, be a source of governance violations or breaches of company protocol. A poll by Sophos found that 66 percent of workers think their colleagues share too much information on Facebook. Forrester Research recently found that 14 percent of companies have disciplined employees and 5 percent fired them for offenses related to social networking. No wonder half of companies--Citigroup, Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan, UBS, and Lehman Brothers among them, according to Financial News--restrict access to Facebook.
Source: Intelligent Enterprise, http://www.intelligententerprise.com
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