According to Mike Vizard of IT Business Edge and CTO Edge, the time for convergence of social networking tools and unified communications solutions has arrived. Companies like Avaya, IBM, and Siemens have begun offering some interoperability between their UC solutions and the Twitter messaging system, although Twitter currently doesn't make this easy to accomplish. In short, Twitter, Facebook and other social media sites want to be able to pull information into their networks, but they usually don't provide a robust API that allow others to pull data from them, making the UC providers do all the work to create connections.
Gripes about the calculated one-sidedness of that dynamic aside, it's easy to see the benefits of being able to use Web 2.0 services to foster communication and sharing across an organization. In the example that Vizard uses to illustrate what Siemens has done to integrate Twitter with its OpenScape UC software, an employee could send an "out-to-lunch" message via Twitter. OpenScape would change messaging status to indicate that the employee is unavailable and forward incoming calls to voicemail. That's pretty handy, and only a minor example of what tighter integration offers. Imagine what it can do for business continuity and disaster recovery.
This communications integration discussion reminds me, though, that companies and other organizations still seem to struggle with social networking tools. All this interconnectedness doesn't have much value if what is communicated doesn't adhere to corporate standards, strays from goals, reveals sensitive information or puts organizational integrity at risk. That's why guidelines and policies are crucial to making social media use a meaningful part of business communication.
We have social media policies and policy templates in the Knowledge Network created for real estate organizations, marketing companies and academic institutions, among many others. Use these as a basis for keeping your organization's social media participation on-message, respectful and meaningful. Doing so will help ensure that integration (in the social, rather than technological, sense) with larger, enterprise-wide communications systems goes more smoothly, as everyone will know the protocol for proper behavior when using these tools for business.
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