Blog

Is Social Media a Beast That Needs to be Tamed?

Joe McKendrick
Insurance Experts' Forum, December 3, 2009

The social media revolution isn't just a lot of people connecting via Facebook, Twitter and other online services. Rather, the revolution is occurring within corporate walls as well. And this has profound implications for the way organizations are, well, organized.

Dr. Irving Wladawsky-Berger, formerly one of IBM's top innovators, recently hosted a panel discussion on the business and media impacts of social media at the University of Southern California's Annenberg School of Communications.

While much of the discussion focused on the impacts on the media business, there were a lot of takeaways for other types of information-intensive industries such as insurance. (The video of the panel covering the business implications can be seen here.)

 

As Melissa Cefkin, a research scientist at IBM, discussed, her company employs internal versions of social media that run on the company's own IT systems and offer a secure environment for business discussions.

“These technologies are invaluable to help people find each other, share information, communicate and learn,” she related. “If you think about it, that is the quintessential corporate challenge ... Businesses or organizations of any kind could be more effective if you can get effective knowledge sharing going on.  So why wouldn't you want to encourage that kind of knowledge sharing?”

However, as with any new disruptive force, there are risks with social media, she warned. “You do not want your employees out there … grumbling about the new project they are on. You don’t want them sharing IP.  You don't want them … in advance of the market, creating a potentially bad reputation for something that's about to launch … You want employees to be productive.”

She added that IBM—as well as other companies—constantly have to weigh the benefits of social media versus these potential downsides. “Is all this time spent … with these [social media] tools and in these different environments a productive use of employees' times and ways of interacting, or is it not?”

No doubt many insurers will be asking themselves the same questions in the months and years to come. Does your company encourage the use of social media, merely tolerate it, or even clamp down on it?

Joe McKendrick is an author, consultant, blogger and frequent INN contributor specializing in information technology.

Readers are encouraged to respond to Joe using the “Add Your Comments” box below. He can also be reached at joe@mckendrickresearch.com.

The opinions of bloggers on www.insurancenetworking.com do not necessarily reflect those of Insurance Networking News.

Comments (0)

Be the first to comment on this post using the section below.

Add Your Comments...

Already Registered?

If you have already registered to Insurance Networking News, please use the form below to login. When completed you will immeditely be directed to post a comment.

Forgot your password?

Not Registered?

You must be registered to post a comment. Click here to register.

Blog Archive

The Good, The Bad and The Ugly Of Enterprise BI

When IT can't deliver, business users build their own applications focusing on agility, flexibility and reaction times.

The IT-Savvy 10%

IBM survey reveals best practices of IT leaders.

The Software-Defined Health Insurer: Radical But Realistic?

Can a tech startup digitally assemble the pieces of a comprehensive, employer-provided health plan?

Data Governance in Insurance Carriers

As the insurance industry moves into a more data-centric world, data governance becomes more critical for ensuring the data is consistent, reliable and usable for analysis.

Fear This

Just days before this Issue, which contains our security cover story, went to press, we got some interesting news: 1.2 billion unique usernames and passwords and 542 million email addresses were reportedly stolen from 420,000 websites, according to The New York Times. The websites ranged from Fortune 500 companies down to small online retailers.

Should You Back Up Enterprise Data to the Cloud?

Six questions that need to be asked before signing on with an outside service.