Some Questions You Might Get Asked

As I’ve talked with many different audiences over the past two years about Enterprise 2.0, I’ve noticed that the same questions keep coming up, and I wanted to capture them. I’ll talk about the best answers to these questions later, and also about which of them seem to be most legitimate — to reflect the real risks a company takes on when it deploys emergent social software platforms (which from now on I’m just going to abbreviate as ESSPs). For now I just wanted to list them, and to make sure that I’m not missing any common ones. 

For internal ESSPs, here’s the FAQ:

  • What if employees use the their internal blogs to post hate speech or pornography, or to harass a co-worker? 
  • What if blogs are used to denigrate the company itself, air dirty laundry, or talk about how misguided its leadership and strategy are? 
  • What if nasty arguments break out in a discussion forum and the whole thing descends into name-calling and flame wars?
  • Won’t people be tempted to use forums to talk about current events, review movies, ask for advice about camcorder purchases, and have other non work-related conversations? 
  • What if people waste time filling up their employee profile pages with pictures of their kittens and vacations? 
  • Will people just use social networking software to plan happy hour, rather than to get work done? 
  • Don’t Enterprise 2.0 platforms just yield another source of discoverable content —  material that must be turned over as part of a lawsuit or other legal action? 
  • If the information on these platforms really is valuable, won’t it be harvested by spies and sold to the highest bidder? 
  • Won’t hackers break in to our Enterprise 2.0 platforms and steal their content? 
  • Don’t these technologies make it easier to deliberately or inadvertently leak secrets to the outside world? 
  • Don’t they make it too easy for confidential information to leap over our internal Chinese Walls? 
  • If we give up tight control over our Intranet’s content, how can we possibly avoid running afoul of all potentially relevant regulations and laws around information sharing in all the places we do business?

The list of concerns grows when an organization also considers extending Enterprise 2.0 tools and approaches to external groups like prospective customers, actual customers, suppliers, and other community members:  

  • What if an unhappy customer uses uses our community site to air their grievances, and to talk loudly and often about our lousy products or Kafkaesque customer service? Or a supplier uses them to complain about how we never pay on time? 
  • Are we responsible and liable if people give incorrect information or bad advice on question and answer forums we host on our Web site?  
  • If we try to take advantage of lead-user innovation and ask people to submit their ideas to us, who owns the resulting intellectual property —  do we have to share resulting revenues and/or profits with the submitter?

What am I missing?  Are there frequently-asked questions that aren’t on this list?  If so, what are they?  Leave a comment, please, and let us know.

And if you’d like to share your favorite answers to any of these, we’re all ears.