Tuesday, December 22, 2009

Social Networking in today’s Corporate World..!!

Social networking is the hot topic that needs to be handled with at corporates nowadyas. And why not? The ability to share thoughts, pictures and video with friends seems like a good option for everyone including the employees. What's not as clear, however, is the how businesses may utilize that same technology.

Nearly one in four businesses block employee access to social networking Web sites such as Facebook and Twitter,according to a survey of about 200 human resources professionals because they see social networking as a "productivity killer".

While many companies do not view social networking as a threat to productivity, one in three survey respondents said their companies consider the sites a major drain on worker output. "Twenty-three percent of companies block access to these sites entirely."

But I still believe that to get a real recruiting edge, business should integrate social networking and other Web 2.0 tools "into every facet of the organization, from marketing to internal employee communication".

Most companies aren’t formally addressing social networking sites. Fifty-nine percent do not have a formal policy on using the sites during work hours. Nearly half said social networking isn't a problem as long as employees get their work done. Formal corporate policies on social networking are scarce because it is such a new phenomenon, and the policy makers belong to the age when Internet itself was a taboo.

Employees nowadays are spending 30 minutes or more per work day on social networking sites. Viruses and leaking of confidential data are among the dangers raised by heavy usage.Lost productivity is not the only reason some organizations ban or limit the use of social networking at the office. These sites produce an extra demand on bandwidth. They also pose a security risk for corporate networks, making company systems vulnerable to hackers and viruses. There is also the potential for employees to leak corporate secrets or damage the company’s image due to the content of their personal profiles.

More than two-thirds of IT pros surveyed by Network World last December said they use social networking sites. IT pros spent more time on the sites for business reasons rather than for play, and numerous organizations have seen business value in these tools.Vendors such as IBM, Microsoft and a number of start-ups have responded with social networking tools for the workplace. Vendor InsideView lets customers integrate social networking tools with business intelligence software.

Many managres are heavy LinkedIn and Facebook user, but they try to keep their respective uses separate -- LinkedIn for professional relationships, Facebook for personal. It's a quandary many corporations are facing today, trying to balance how they might benefit from participating in social networking against security or legal issues that could arise.

Although I can sees potential opportunities through social connectivity, there's a lot of noise to filter out too. Many businesses have already started to put out an official Facebook site, and I anticipate that as a positive changing work culture.

CIOs today should at least make themselves familiar with social networking, if only because they will be employing the Millennial Generation, for whom the technology is becoming a way of life.

Back when the Web was coming of age in the mid '90s, people started talking about why staff needs Web access. Won't it just give them a chance to waste time? My opinion then and now is that if someone is looking to waste time, they can do it while sipping coffy, reading the daily news or using the Web. Web 2.0 tools are just another source of content and the key is managing people properly."

One of the pioneer in using social media in the corporate world is Telstra, the Australian telecom giant. The 40,000+ person company makes social media training mandatory for its employees and formalized a policy of “3Rs” – Responsibility, Respect and Representation. Taking things a step further, today the company is trying something about as transparent as it gets – publishing their entire social media training guide online, so that anyone can check it out, learn and critique.

While this communications environment has risks for corporate entities and individuals alike, I believe that with the right training and policy support the potential benefits far outweigh the risks. This decision to open up this is a bold move by Telstra that will leave them open to plenty of criticism, but ultimately it looks like a smart one that should foster a lot of conversation in the space.

Thursday, December 03, 2009

25 Years, Bhopal still weeps..!!

I get shivers down my spine whenever I think about December 3, 1984. On this day a cloud of methyl isocyanate gas got leaked at Bhopal and Within hours, more than 3,000 people were dead. This gas came from leak at Union Carbide plant.

Hundreds of people died from the effects of toxic gases which leaked from a chemical factory near the central Indian city of Bhopal. The accident happened in the early hours of that morning at the American-owned Union Carbide Pesticide Plant three miles (4.8 km) from Bhopal. Mothers didn't know their children had died, children didn't know their mothers had died and men didn't know their whole families had died. This caused a deadly cloud of lethal gas to float from the factory over Bhopal, which was home to more than 900,000 people - many of whom lived in slums. Chaos and panic broke out in the city and surrounding areas as tens of thousands of people attempted to escape. More than 20,000 people have required hospital treatment for symptoms including swollen eyes, frothing at the mouth and breathing difficulties. Thousands of dead cats, dogs, cows and birds litter the streets and the city's mortuaries are filling up fast.

Bhopal residents said that they were choking and their eyes were burning. They could barely see the road through the fog, and sirens were blaring. They didn't know which way to run. Everybody was very confused. The Union Carbide factory was closed immediately after the accident and three senior members of staff arrested. Medical and scientific experts dispatched to the scene and the Indian government ordered a judicial inquiry. This was one of the world's worst industrial accidents.Nearly 3,000 people died from the effects of the poisonous gas in the days following the disaster. Estimates say that some 50,000 people were treated in the first few days suffering terrible side-effects, including blindness, kidney and liver failure. Campaigners say nearly 20,000 others have since died from the effects of the leak.Investigations into the disaster revealed that something had gone fundamentally wrong with a tank storing lethal methyl isocyanate (MIC).

In 1989 Union Carbide, which is now a subsidiary of Dow Chemical, paid the Indian Government £470m in a settlement which many described as woefully inadequate.But in 1999 a voluntary group in Bhopal which believed not enough had been done to help victims, filed a lawsuit in the United States claiming Union Carbide violated international law and human rights.In November 2002 India said it was seeking the extradition of former Union Carbide boss Warren Anderson from the US. Mr Anderson faces charges of "culpable homicide" for cost-cutting at the plant which is alleged to have compromised safety standards.

In October 2004, the Indian Supreme Court approved a compensation plan drawn up by the state welfare commission to pay nearly $350m to more than 570,000 victims of the disaster.

People still continue to die. Experts say- This month, this week, someone would have died an untimely death because of the exposure back in 1984. And there are still 100,000 or more people suffering from chronic illnesses.

All the compensation story was drama, the real victims never got anything. Those who got were powerful and rich. Poor street dwellers still suffer.

If we don't learn from it,tomorrow, another Bhopal will happen.