Social media may help address looming budget issues faced by public service organisations, by providing economical ways of engaging citizens, delivering services, and by empowering and supporting employees. This is the finding of a published this week by the Society of Information Technology Management.
Entitled Social media:why ICT management should lead their organisations to embrace it, the report advises local government to embrace social networking websites rather than blocking staff members from using them.
However, restricting access to social network sites is normal practice among councils across the UK with some 90% having some blocking measures in place, according to the study. In fact, 67% have a total ban on use which is enforced either through policy or by a access management software.
Others allow use of out of office our or over the lunch period – suggesting that they see these tools as purely social and not having any business benefit.
Security is cited as key motivator for restricting access including the percieved risk of exposure to viruses, malware and spyware. Other concerns include staff productivity, compromise of systems and data and demand on bandwidth along with the risk of reputation damage. However all these concerns can be easily addressed through policy and technology measures so that local councils can realise the benefits of social media.
‘Use of social media has exploded, appearing on the radar of ICT managers, but mostly for the wrong reasons’ says report author Chris Head.
‘The term “social” implies “not related to work”, but this is a fallacy. CIOs and heads of ICT need to take the lead and educate colleagues on the organisation’s management team about the benefits of social media, as well as finding ways to accommodate them appropriately and safely through the corporate infrastructure.’