Companies Still Concerned About Social Networking Risks

i4cp study: Leaking of confidential information and damage to reputation cited as top concerns

SEATTLE, WA (June 08, 2009) - Companies are having trouble getting a grip on social networking technologies in the workplace, according to a recent study by the Institute for Corporate Productivity (i4cp). The study found that, of those that formally use social networking technology in their enterprise, 37% don't have any policy in place regarding what information can be shared. More interesting: Even though social networking has become commonplace among the workforce, corporations are clearly still concerned about perceived risks of the technology.

However, exactly what companies consider the biggest risks of social networking technology varies widely depending on company size. Leaking of confidential information is most feared by large companies (those with 10,000 employees or more), with 54% reporting it as a risk to a high or very high extent, whereas just 24% of small companies (those with fewer than 1,000 workers) share the same trepidation. Likewise, large companies are more fearful that social networking will result in damage to their reputation, with 47% considering it a risk to a high or very high extent, compared with 27% in small organizations.

"Big companies are big targets and so have higher risks," said Mark Vickers, VP of research at i4cp. "They're more likely to have a well-known brand to protect, and there are plenty of competitors that would love to glean their trade secrets. At the same time, the big ones probably need these technologies more. In fact, 61% of large companies say they use social networking tools today across their enterprise. That's assuredly because there are more people whose ideas can be leveraged for greater productivity, and also because internal communication is harder. The trick is how to solve this conundrum of greater need and greater risk. It looks like a lot of firms haven't figured it out yet, but they'd better get started. These technologies can yield great results if used correctly, and they certainly aren't going away."

When it comes to ensuring that regulated content is not shared or used incorrectly, the majority of polled companies lean heavily on firewalls against outside interference, with 61% overall citing it as a defense (a number that jumps to 75% in large organizations). Half of all organizations have policies against sharing regulated content, and 38% (46% of large organizations) provide employee training about what should and shouldn't be shared.

When asked how their organizations validate that social networking technology is secure for users, four out of 10 companies overall said they didn't know, and that figure rises to 54% in large organizations. The most popular validation effort employed by firms is "internal testing," favored by 36% of companies overall and 46% of large firms. That's followed by "risk analysis," used by 24% overall and 18% of large companies, and "third-party audits/testing" is used by 15% of organizations overall.

In their efforts to improve engagement among those who use social networking technologies in their organizations, most (53%) create guidelines for use, followed by 49% that communicate the purpose of the technologies and 41% that say they encourage the use of the technologies.

The Social Network Regulation Pulse Survey was conducted by i4cp in May 2009. A total of 317 respondents participated in the survey. The full results of the survey are available exclusively for all i4cp corporate members.

About i4cp, inc.

i4cp is the world's largest vendor-free network of corporations focused on improving workforce productivity. Our vendor-free community facilitates innovation by giving our members - among the largest and most respected organizations in the world - access to:
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  3. Tools to put ideas and research into action,
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With more than 40 years of experience and the industry's largest team of human capital analysts, i4cp is the definitive destination for organizations seeking innovative ways to improve workforce productivity. For more information, visit
Erik Samdahl
Erik is the head of marketing at i4cp, and has nearly 20 years in the market research and human capital research industry.