By Jeffrey M. Kaplan
Many corporate executives, view today’s social networks, like Facebook and Twitter, with mixed emotions. They recognize that these dynamic apps can be powerful mechanisms to promote their products. But, they also fear that they can be used to batter their brands with criticisms which can spread like wildfire.
These ambivalent feelings are echoed and even exaggerated by CIOs and IT professionals, who fear these social networks can create frightening holes in their security shields which can cause major compliance issues. If transmitting proprietary information via email was difficult to control, regulating the use of Twitter and Facebook seems next to impossible.
However, enlightened corporate executives and their IT counterparts are now discovering that social networks can actually enable them to achieve corporate objectives that were never possible before.
For instance, age-old ideas about knowledge management can now be attained via purpose-built social networks like Salesforce.com’s Chatter, Yammer and Jive which not only encourage information sharing but also track and archive shared information.
And social networks can also be used to capture customer feedback and more quickly respond to customer complaints using tools like Nimble or Salesforce.com’s Radian6 and new Desk.com capabilities built on its recent Assistly acquisition.
One of the fundamental principles of the IT Infrastructure Library (ITIL) standard that many IT organizations use to guide their IT service management (ITSM) capabilities is that their IT priorities should reflect the business needs of their corporate constituents. However, one of the key impediments to achieving this objective has been deploying an effective communications method to collect user input and disseminate IT policies.
A growing number of ITSM vendors are now integrating social network tracking capabilities into their functionality so IT departments can track service tickets more effectively and poll end-user requirements more easily. This is permitting IT to better understand end-user requirements so they can more effectively satisfy their needs.
Just like political campaigns which monitor Twitter and Facebook to gauge popular opinion, IT organizations are becoming more astute at tracking end-user problems so they can proactively support their business objectives. And smart IT organizations are using these same tools to educate corporate end-users and executives about new programs aimed at helping them achieve their goals.