Friday, August 01, 2008

Enterprise use of web2.0 collides with restrictive access policies

I've been talking to a prospective client in the banking industry about a project to have tellers blog about interesting customer encounters they have, as a way to share knowledge on the behaviors of fraudsters and other front-line customer service issues, especially with executives who are removed from most front-line customer communication.

I talked to them yesterday and they said they can't pursue the project for two reasons. One was a concern about wide sharing of possibly sensitive data, a reasonable concern that can be addressed with standards and practices of data accessibility, and guidelines about appropriate and inappropriate subjects.

The second was a show-stopper. "We just put a policy in place to strictly limit the amount of internet usage by our people. This project would go counter to that by encouraging people to use the internet more to blog and to monitor RSS feeds."

I went slack-jawed, hearing this. With the potential of web2.0 tools to open up lines of communication, gather and share vivid data, and generally create a stronger, more capable staff, this company was concerned about people spending too much work time on Myspace or eBay.

Under Jeff Thull's credo of "going for the no," I stopped working this opportunity immediately. If a company wants to reduce their team's internet usage, and my project is predicated on increasing it, that's not a battle I will win.

But worse than the opportunity lost was the sinking feeling that enterprises are just not understanding the value in the new social media and by choking off access they risk permanently missing out on the possibilities. Perhaps Andrew McAfee's healthy pessimism about business' adoption of these tools is warranted.

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Andrew Meyer said...


I feel your pain. That is going to be a major challenge to any changes. One possibility is to link the blogs to an intranet site, but that is fraught with difficulties also, though there are some great opportunities if you are talking to the right person.

It will be interesting to see how Web2.0 initiatives play out and who can take advantage and offer differentiated service using them.

I wish you luck and look forward to learning from your experiences.


Wally Bock said...

Congratulations! This post was selected as one of the five best business blog posts of the week in my Three Star Leadership Midweek Review of the Business Blogs.

Wally Bock