IT Needs to be More Social

IT can make use of internal social software to be more transparent and communicate better with employees throughout the organization.

IT often has a reputation problem inside companies because for too many organizations IT remains a black box. People have no idea what you do and they see you as aloof as a result. One way to change that is by making use of social software to communicate in a direct way with employees in the company about what you’re doing.

In a guest post this week in the Wall Street Journal, consultant and technology journalist Michael Krigsman talked about how to get Chief Information Officers (CIOs) involved in social networking, and while Krigsman was writing about public social networks such as Facebook and Twitter, the principles he discussed hold true whether it’s internal or external communication.

Quoting SAP CIO Oliver Bussmann, Krigsman communicated the value of social networking for IT in general, not just the top-level executive in the C Suite. “Social media gives the CIO a public voice on topics like innovation, business transformation and IT delivery. When we communicate value, IT stops being a black box,” Bussmann said in the WSJ post.

And that’s the point. You can use internal communications channels to let people know what you do. If you have Enterprise Social software in place that gives you the means to communicate directly with masses of employees, you can not only talk more openly about what you do, you can begin to work more directly with people in the company.

As we move into a period where Consumerization means it’s harder to command, control and dictate as you did in the past (and if you do, people find easy work-arounds), it’s more important to have clear channels of communication where you can talk to fellow-employees about best practices, how to keep smart phones secure, what you’re doing this week to advance the company strategy and so forth.

Enterprise Social tools such as Yammer (recently purchased by Microsoft), Jive, Socialtext, Traction Software and many other examples, can provide a communications platform to deliver this kind of information. In a similar manner to public tools, except these are inside the firewall, you can microblog like Twitter, have a profile page like Facebook, follow people, share content and so forth.

As you build communications channels within your organization, you can help facilitate interaction, not just between IT and other employees, but among employees from across the organization, from the top down. It helps break down social structures within in the company and gives users access to one another.

From an IT perspective, you don’t have to answer every little question about how to use software packages because users can help one another on the social software, as happens online every day.

Being social benefits IT on many levels, and finding ways to be more transparent, help lead to more good will with less resentment and possibly even more cooperation for those things that matter most around security governance.

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