Business data remains key challenge for Web 2.0

Productivity concerns take a back seat to security issues in online collaboration

Managing the movement of intellectual property remains a key business challenge when it comes to Web 2.0 communication, but Australian organisations seem to be adopting a "she’ll be right, mate" when it comes to security implications, according to a survey from security vendor Clearswift.

The research, conducted in the UK, US, Germany and Australia by Loudhouse Research, surveyed about 1600 people globally, including 1000 managers with the remainder employees. More than two-thirds of companies in the survey said they allowed and encouraged the use of Web collaboration or social media tools in the workplace.

Australian business users reported a high takeup of Web 2.0 technologies like collaborative meeting, intranet, financial, customer relationship management and social networking applications. In the context of the survey, however, 53 per cent appear the least concerned about the security implications despite ranking second highest to respondents (29 per cent) who have sent content via e-mail or online applications they later regretted.

Results from Australia showed similar attitudes from both managers and employees about issues such as motivation, trust, innovation and costs. When it came to relationships and communication with colleagues, however, 35.6 per cent of managers reported better results, but only 26 per cent of employees reported the same.

The perception gap creates a security reality — and it is a security issue that goes beyond productivity

The Australian results also indicate a difference between employer and employee perceptions around acceptable use and some confusion about the level to which companies are controlling social media in the workplace. Some 65 per cent of managers surveyed said they believed the use of Web collaboration and social media tools at work makes employees more productive, however only 43 per cent of workers said the same.

“A lot of employers view Web 2.0 apirationally — they can see forward and see how it will benefit the company in the future,” said Clearswift’s managing director for Asia Pacific, Peter Croft. “Employees who use it on a day-to-day basis tend to look at what they’re doing today rather than the longer term.”

Likewise, there is often confusion around the term Web 2.0. The darlings of the social media set, Facebook and Twitter, immediately spring to mind, but in business the definition is far broader.

“It is really around the behaviour of people communicating via the Web. Most organisations these days provide Web 2.0 functionality, whether they call it that or not,” he said.

Internationally, 60 per cent of the managers surveyed said they trust employees to use internet and social networking sites responsibly, however 44 per cent of employees said they were happy to discuss work-related issues on social networking sites and 25 per cent had sent content via email or social networks that they later regretted. The different attitudes, Croft said, highlights a gap in perceptions surrounding Web 2.0 tools and social networks.

“The perception gap creates a security reality — and it is a security issue that goes beyond productivity. The big issue is no longer about the destination, it’s about the content.

It’s not just about having a policy, Croft said, it’s about combining organisational policies with content-based tools that sit at key gateways.

“If you’re writing a policy around information and content, you need to be able to find the content that’s important to you,” he said. “You need to have something sitting at the gateway that can find what people are trying to get outside of the organisation.”

Those gateways should also extend to any cloud-based services, he said.

Australian findings:

  • Employee experience: 26 per cent of employees say there is an expectation to maintain a social media presence for work purposes.
  • Productivity: Despite concerns regarding employees wasting time, 52 per cent of managers trust employees to use these resources responsibly.
  • Barriers to adoption: 53 per cent of companies are concerned about security threats and 31 per cent concerned about data breaches.

Clearswift has also launched an online benchmarking tool for companies to rank themselves against global or country-specific results on its Web site.

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