Of organizations that block social networks, 70 percent do so for virus or spyware prevention; 52 percent restrict Web surfing due to employee productivity drain. This year, 65 percent of businesses say they will restrict Web surfing, up 23 percent. Companies also cite bandwidth and liability issues as reasons to cut into employee Web surfing.
Fifteen years ago, they were called bulletin boards. Judged by today's technologies, they were pretty clunky. You typed questions or information in a few fields and waited (and hoped) for a response. They were the Internet's first "social networks." Today, of course, when the topic of social networks comes up, Facebook, MySpace, YouTube and LinkedIn come to mind. ,p> Social networks, however, can take on shapes different from these more consumer-oriented sites -- as intranets, for example. Intranets are fairly simple to set up and maintain, and can improve employee productivity and idea implementation.
Forrester Research estimates that social networking will be a huge priority for organizations, part of a $4.6 billion Web 2.0 industry by 2013, with social networks making up nearly $2 billion of that amount. How much of that, however, will involve consumer social networking sites versus intranet social networking?
Forrester predicts there will be a lot of intra-company networking tools (e.g., corporate directories or internal forums), as well as more interactive varieties of technical support. The biggest adopters of social networking are expected to be large companies; smaller businesses, meanwhile, are more skeptical.
While intranets seem to be a logical adaptation of social networking, allowing employees unfettered access to consumer social networking sites does not seem to be as big a concern among enterprises as one would think, given the security and productivity issues involved. According to an evaluation of businesses using Barracuda Networks' Web Filters product, only 50 percent of organizations are blocking MySpace or Facebook.
Of those organizations that do block these sites, 70 percent do so for virus or spyware prevention; 52 percent restrict Web surfing due to employee productivity drain. This year, however, 65 percent of businesses surveyed by Barracuda say they will restrict Web surfing, up 23 percent. Companies also cite bandwidth concerns (36 percent) and liability issues (28 percent) as additional reasons to cut into employee Web surfing.
There seem to be many companies, however, that are waiting for bad things to happen before they implement Web surfing controls. Much the same way they did regarding network security and customer data protection. And much the same way they did before blocking porn. After all, these aren't bulletin boards we're talking about.