Having read a posting by Duncan McLoad, asking the question whether Facebook is a thread to business, I want to share my views and opinion.
Facebook is a tool just like any other tool and cannot just be banned because some decision makers do not understand the technology and the value it might add. Yes there must be controls and guidelines around the use of it and what employees may or may not publish on it.
I am fortunate to work for a company, IBM, that operates in this space and make tools and technology available in this Web 2.0 environment. We have a similar tool inside IBM called Bluepages which is of great value in finding people with particular skills. IBM is now selling this same technology in the form of Lotus Connections. However this tool provide for internal community building inside a business. How does a company build communities with it suppliers/customers and this is where Facebook has a role to play.
And not all big companies is against Facebook. I was in a customer meeting a week or so back where the CIO of this customer promoted the use of Facebook and other Web 2.0 technologies and tools like blogging. In his opinion, via these technologies, companies can get an idea of the pulse of their workforce. What is the morale of the people etc? What are the employees talking about, what are their concerns? Some might view this as spying, I do not. Each and everyone decide for themselves what we divulge via Facebook and why should our employers not read this?
On a similar vain. Facebook has also helped me to get in contact with a fellow employee in a crisis situation. Being away from my office I could use Facebook to get the telephone number of this employee, yes he was part of my friends list and luckily for me he published his phone number for his friends. In the end I was able to contact him and he was able to resolve a crisis situation with a customer.
I have used Facebook not just inside my company to build valuable networks but have also used Facebook to get in contact with groups outside my company to add value to the work that I do.
And lastly we must also remember that Facebook is a social networking tool and work/life balance should be important to each and every company. Employees that have a good work/life balance also tend to be happy and more productive employees. Facebook plays a role in the social happiness of people.
See you on Facebook 🙂