by Curt Finch

IT Professionals are Behind on Social Media—What Gives?

Dec 14, 20113 mins
CIOConsumer ElectronicsFacebook

Social media connects businesses with the informed consumer—to not be a part of this is missing a critical opportunity.

There’s no denying that social media has become a part of our everyday lives, but what about social media in the workplace?  Though it isn’t part of the Bring-Your-Own-Device phenomenon, social media still plays heavily into the consumerization of IT.

Research shows that IT professionals are behind the curve when it comes to social media in the workplace.  Though social media may seem like a scary door to unproductive employees, blocking it could be cutting yourself off from new business connections and informed consumers.

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Social media is definitely on the rise in the workplace. Surprisingly, workers are not (for the most part) goofing off on social media sites.  Rather, they are extending your business in a dynamic way. 

Unisys recently released its Consumerization of IT Benchmark Study and found that iWorkers (or knowledge workers) use an average of four consumer devices in the course of their day as well as multiple third-party applications, including social networking sites.  The study shows that workers are actively using social media at work and awareness of social media has also risen among businesses.  Additionally, a quarter of iWorkers surveyed use blogs and professional online communities for business purposes. 

Office Arrow also recently released the findings of a study it conducted called The State of Social Media in Small Business. It finds that 88 percent of small businesses believe that social media does or will impact their business.  Social media is rampant with employees and the businesses for which they work.  So how do IT teams keep up?

IT teams are statistically shown to not provide social media support for their employees.  Robert Half Technology found through their research that 31 percent of organizations completely block social media sites.  But the types of sites that are blocked actually go beyond social media sites. 

The Unisys Study finds that 44 percent of iWorkers can’t access non-work related websites at all.  While some companies won’t let employees on social media sites at all, other employees are left to their own devices with no guidance.  Forty percent of organizations surveyed by Unisys said they don’t have guidelines for social media use in the workplace.  Paul Gillin of Business2Community was shocked when he was at a major conference recently with around 300 senior IT executives—and not one had tweeted anything about the conference. There seems to be a disconnect between IT professionals and the management and use of social media.

Businesses not connected to social media are turning their backs on potential partnerships and revenue.  Knowledge workers use social networks to build relationships and conduct business.  Business happens in online social networks.  Isabella Mark, the director of Global Solution Management at Unisys, believes intelligent employees can be used to your advantage:

“Capitalizing on the sophistication employees have gained can help organizations reduce the security and privacy risks that can attend use of social media. There can be a bigger business risk if those companies don’t take action – loss of value-creating ability and competitiveness.”

Social media connects businesses with the informed consumer—to not be a part of this is missing a critical opportunity.

If companies or IT professionals find themselves behind the curve of social media, consider hiring or outsourcing to a social media specialist who can encourage social media use in a responsible way as well as establish best practices regarding security.  Your employees already know their way around social media.  Now is the time to make sure everyone is on the same page with clear company guidelines. Then, open the floodgate and let the opportunities flow in.