When I was trying to convince doctors at my last place of employment that allowing secure messaging from existing patients was a good idea, I heard more than once that it would be the “end of modern medicine as we know it.” One of our physician champions found a reference that I’ve never been able to relocate that quoted doctors saying the same thing about another technological advancement: The telephone.
Clearly secure messaging wasn’t the end of modern medicine as we know it, and in fact, proved enormously valuable for patient and physician alike.
Similarly, when I worked for a Fortune 500 company in the mid-90s I requested an email address to communicate with key audiences that were using that tool at the time. A VP in the organization turned me down, and he actually said, “…we’ve never done that before.” Doh!
Which leads, finally, to the point I want to make: I think organizations that block popular social media tools are reacting in much the same way.
My friend Shel Holtz blogged on this recently
, and he couldn’t have said it better:
Jakob Nielsen of the Nielsen Norman group nails it:
Social software is a trend that cannot be ignored. It is bringing about fundamental change to the way people expect to communicate with one another. Companies cannot use social tools with their customers and not also allow their employees to utilize them.
Yet, according to the data, that is exactly what’s happening. So let’s summarize:
- Companies want to market using social media.
- Companies rely on employee grassroots efforts to identify social media that will pay off internally.
- Companies are blocking employee access to social media.
I agree with Shel that it doesn’t add up. The truth is that social media is becoming the accepted way for people to communicate on all levels. IMHO, blocking it at work is like blocking telephone access or not allowing employees to have email addresses.