Collaboration Is Not as Risky as Companies Think

Ann All

There are plenty of examples of companies successfully using Web 2.0-ish collaboration tools like blogs and wikis. Yet many CIOs still seem leery of them, citing security and other risks.


While these concerns are understandable, they may leave overly cautious companies in the competitive dust if they aren't careful.


Which is why we were so taken with a recent blog post from Harvard Business School's always smart Andrew McAfee. He suggests subjecting tools like blogs and wikis to a "flip test," imagining how reaction to them might differ if they preceded, rather than followed, more prevalent corporate communications tools like e-mail and instant messaging.


Blogs and wikis have an inherently public nature, while e-mail and instant messaging keep communications largely private.


So let's look at some of the common concerns associated with corporate communication: disclosure of company secrets, inappropriate behavior such as sexual harassment, and lost productivity. Are these behaviors more likely to occur in a public or a private forum? Exactly.


McAfee says companies are spending too much time fretting about risks of blogs and wikis, when the tools they are already using are actually far riskier.


Now, this doesn't mean that companies shouldn't create policies to ensure blogs and wikis are used appropriately. As the executive director of the Society for New Communications Research told us in an IT Business Edge interview, it's often just a matter of tweaking the existing policies that cover tools such as e-mail.


Company policies do not appear to be keeping pace with adoption of new tools. According to a recent American Management Association/ePolicy Institute survey, just 7 percent of U.S. companies have policies on business blogging.

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