Friday, August 28, 2009

Will litigation slow enterprise adoption of social media?

There are some companies that have adopted social media, and some that have not. Those who support wide adoption of social media have identified various reasons why some companies haven't gotten on the broadbandwagon, including "their executives are calcified," "they don't want to relinquish lack of control," and "they're, like, not cool and stuff." But perhaps potential litigation may be another reason why social media adoption may slow - or, in some cases, stop.

I was reading this Rob Preston column in InformationWeek, and a couple of his statements jumped out at me:

IT organizations already are responsible for helping ensure that their companies comply with myriad financial reporting, privacy, security, and other regulations. But that pressure will only intensify, Gartner says, as security attacks escalate and wide-open social media generate "increased concern over the extent to which personal data and the safety of minors are threatened by criminals."

Now Preston, of course, is writing to an audience of IT professionals, so he's naturally going to worry about IT becoming overburdened. But notice that Gartner statement about "safety of minors." In many cases, including some frivolous ones, claims are made that some overreaching activity is being done "for the children."

But read on.

For more than a decade, companies have filed lawsuits against their enterprise software suppliers, blaming them for cost overruns, inadequate functionality, even their weak financials. Gartner maintains that enterprises will sue their IT suppliers with greater frequency now that governments are more inclined to grease the skids. The firm notes, for instance, that healthcare providers have asked the Obama administration to hold software vendors liable for any "failures" caused by their implementation of federally mandated software.

Now this obviously isn't limited to social media endeavors - the lawyers could just as easily go after your back-office business intelligence software. But social media software keeps on cropping up in these discussions, including this one from The Hartford.

Firms that would never consider lacking for insurance covering fire, flood, professional malpractice, or discrimination are almost completely exposed to what could go wrong in the Information Age. Furthermore, the uncertainties associated with technology will match the brisk pace of technology developments themselves. This means the technology risk for CIOs isn't a steady-state phenomenon -- rather, it's a very dynamic one to be contemplated regularly. Emerging and recent technology advancements such as cloud computing, Web 2.0, and smartphones will mean new unintended consequences for the CIOs that leverage them.

Rob Preston correctly notes that The Hartford is trying to get people to buy their cyber-risk insurance, but people aren't going to bother buying it unless there is a real threat.

And if you need a real-world example of how social media implementation can lead to litigation, take the skank story. (Please.) You'll recall that Google, which provides blogging services to numerous blogs (including this one), was sued by Liskula Cohen after an anonymous blogger used Google software to refer to Cohen as "skanky." Google was legally compelled to reveal the identity of the anonymous blogger, who then announced that she would sue Google herself.

For some companies, social media may not be worth the headache.
blog comments powered by Disqus