E L S U A ~ A KM Blog by Luis Suarez

From the blog

How Long Before We Start Taking More Seriously Both Privacy and Security in Enterprise 2.0?

Gran Canaria - Puerto de Mogan in the SpringHow about if we finish off another wonderfully busy and inspiring week in the Social Computing space with another thought provoking blog post on the topic of Privacy and Security, perhaps two of the main key themes that keep popping up as potential showstoppers for social software adoption efforts within the corporate world? Not bad, right? Well, before I dive into that one I just want to share a big Thanks! to  everyone for those wonderful blog comments, retweets & Mentions around this week’s blog posts that I have been sharing over here! Hope to come back to that blogging commentary in the next few days… So how about talking around privacy and security then?

Have we addressed it and fixed it already? Are we looking actively into addressing all of the various different issues? Will they really become the troublemakers on the adoption of social tools in the enterprise? What do you think? My take is that we haven’t; in fact, we haven’t even started yet the conversations on the topic! At least, not at the scale I would hope for… Allow me to explain …

Eugene Lee put together yesterday a rather interesting and very relevant blog post on these topics under the title "Architecture Matters – Privacy in the Social Platform"; it surely is a worth while read that would make folks thing twice about their current development efforts for social tools. Equally revealing, and very enlightening, are the various different links he includes as well on that article from Adina Levin (Data Sharing, Context, and Privacy, What’s Different about Enterprise Twitter?, and Enterprise OpenSocial – A Year of Progress). All worth while reading along, for sure.

The interesting thing from Eugene’s article though is the highlighted fact that SocialText may be one of the very few social software tools out there that may have nailed it as far as taking both privacy and security into account when developing the next generation of Enterprise Social Software. And I bet it must feel pretty lonely out there, because most others haven’t even started to think about it seriously.

I am not sure whether this is due to the fact that most of these Enterprise Social Software offerings have been designed and developed in the US, where we all know privacy and security may not be as tight and strict (Probably to the extreme!) as they are in other European countries or whether this is due to the fact that most vendors may well think that since they are developing social software tools for behind the firewall so both privacy and security are not really of a primary concern to them…

How inaccurate! If privacy and security need to be taken into account for any software vendor it is actually essential that those two aspects are being taken well into account if that social software tools suite is meant for internal collaboration. If not, have a wander around in countries like Germany, Austria, Italy, Denmark, France, Spain, etc. etc. where an oversight on these two important topics can be rather costly. For both employers and knowledge workers.

Last year, during the course of the Enterprise 2.0 conference event in Boston, a bunch of us, attendees & presenters, tried to bring forward these important issues on to the table, so that we could start the right level of conversations around them, before it may well be too late. Much to our amazement those conversations never took place and almost a year later, we seem to be on exactly that very same dead end we were last year, except perhaps a bit worse: a year has gone by with nothing substantial happening and organisms like the European Union are starting to wake up and look into the realm of social networking behind the corporate firewall and its full potential implications.

Somehow, I feel we are not putting enough stress on how important and crucial, finally, getting it right will become in the next few months, couple of years, before organisms like the EU itself and various other countries will start wondering why time and time again various Enterprise Social Software tools don’t really comply with both their privacy and security guidelines. In fact, they have kind of neglected it all along, which is, perhaps, the most worrying thing!

Like I said, examples like SocialText are, I am afraid, a rare instance; in fact, I’m really proud about the fact they have taken, all along, rather serious the topics of privacy and security, because amongst several other things, they are proving, once again, that not only are they (maybe) ahead of everyone else, but they are also demonstrating actively with that commitment that it can be done. That it should be done. That for social software tools to survive within the corporate environment they need to respect, comply and abide with those privacy and security regulations that other enterprise software has been having for decades. So if they have proved that, why can’t everyone else follow their lead? I mean, why the stubbornness on this key matter? Wouldn’t we all want to design & develop state of the art social computing tools that would be safe to make use of for knowledge workers behind the firewall? Because right now, it is not happening …

That’s why this year, while I will be attending (And presenting! -More on that later, by the way!) the Enterprise 2.0 conference event in mid-June I do plan to ask the same questions again that we asked last year on what vendors are finally doing about both privacy and security. They are far too important to be left out, once again, for another year, and I think it is our responsibility, as social software internal evangelists to highlight across the board how critical it is to bring up this subject time and time again, so that, at some point, we may be able to have those issues addressed and sorted out once and for all.

I think our time to remain quiet and don’t say anything else about it, so that we don’t upset those vendors, is just about to finish. We cannot afford leaving out of the equation such an important topic with such huge implications for us all dealing with our various social software adoption internal efforts. So I am hoping that those of us who will be at the Enterprise 2.0 conference will use that opportunity, once again, to challenge, and make rather uncomfortable, those specific vendors who we feel are letting us down not confronting these issues, just because they think organisms like the EU and various other countries are not important enough. They are. Do you think we are going to wait for them to shut down that enterprise social software tool we have put so much effort on already?

I don’t think so. At least, I won’t be keeping quiet much longer anymore. I think it’s time to ensure and prove we are doing something about it, pretty much like SocialText, demonstrating, quite clearly, how we can eventually make it happen. And if they have managed to do it, why not everyone else? What’s your excuse then?

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  1. I could not agree more.

    It seems that this issue, if not overlooked, is not understood in the same way on both sides of the ocean.

    On the one side, it’s about things people own, on the other it’s about what people are, sometimes an indissociable part of their personality, that can’t be used nor accessed by anybody because it’s a part of the human person.

    It may be hard to understand for people who don’t share the same context but for many people in the EU, the privacy issue is not about data or information, it can be compared to a threat to personal integrity, exactly the same as being physically attacked.

  2. Id just like to share a helpful whitepaper here for your readers, on the subject of blocking social media apps on the enterprise network. It’s called “To Block or Not. Is that the question?”


    It has lots of insightful and useful information about identifying and controlling Enterprise 2.0 apps (Facebook, Twitter, Skype, SharePoint, etc.)

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