Microsoft last week announced a connector between Microsoft Outlook, and profile information in Facebook. The service works by matching a user''s e-mail address to their Facebook profile. So if one of your contacts in Outlook is on Facebook, you will see whatever information is publicly available from their profile within Outlook (or whatever information you can access if you are "friends"). Microsoft previously announced a similar integration between Outlook at LinkedIn.
Microsoft''s move creates new challenges for organizations trying to balance the need to embrace the world of social software with concerns over security, compliance, privacy and productivity. Our 2010 benchmark of over 200 companies shows that 40% block access to public social sites such as Facebook, Twitter and YouTube, but often are forced to back off blanket bans due to employee demand or business justifications to participate in public social communities. Meanwhile, only 23% have a formal social strategy.
Allowing employees to engage with public social networks can provide real benefits in terms of building personal relationships with customers, partners, and suppliers, but of course carries risk and must be implemented with respect to information protection requirements (See Socialware's recently released Guide to Facebook Social Networking Compliance).
We continue to spend a lot of time working with our clients to try and help them balance the need for openness with the reality of governance. Enterprise managers should take efforts by Microsoft and others to poke holes in the social firewall as further justification for a proactive enterprise social strategy.
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