I just returned from the Social Media In Government conference in Dallas where I made the statement during my presentation that IT’s job is to support the work that the staff of an organization does. If IT is blocking access to work-related tools (Facebook, Twitter, etc.), and actively getting in the way of folks who are trying to use these tools for business purposes, then they aren’t doing their jobs. Our job, as IT folks, is to provide access to the network resources that folks need, while also keeping that network safe. If the network accepts emails and web pages, then there is no excuse to not allow Facebook, YouTube and Twitter traffic (bandwidth considerations for YouTube, especially, aside). Of course, I should also stress that it is important for staff members to “surf safe” – clicking on every dubious link and not staying informed about what is happening in the tools that you use for work is not terribly professional – but IT should not be standing in the way.
I enjoyed the conference – the folks who attended were amazing and smart and doing really cool things – and then I came back home to this article: 96% Of Indian Firms Prohibit Social Networks At Work. That’s the attention-grabbing headline. What got me, though, was the first sentence:
Cisco recently released figures that show that roughly half (52%) of IT decision makers say their company has a policy prohibiting use of social media applications or collaboration tools.
Collaboration tools, too? Seriously? Ugh. I come from IT – I understand the urge to protect the network and keep the bad guys out – but that has to balance with giving staff the tools to do their work – and I’m seeing way more terrified IT folks blocking everything than I am diligent IT folks allowing what is necessary and keeping their virus definitions updated, their user base educated and their staff working the way they need to work.