IT execs debate Web 2.0 in the enterprise

Gartner says its not IT's job to block access

The arrival of Web 2.0 has IT executives debating whether they should block staff access to social networking sites or try to find innovative ways to exploit the technology.

A number of large organizations in Australia have already taken steps to block access to these sites but according to Gartner research vice president, Jay Heiser, restricting access is just plain silly.

Speaking at Gartner's annual symposium in Sydney yesterday, Heiser said it is not IT's job to say no as Web 2.0 is an opportunity, not a threat.

"As an IT professional it is our job to understand risk and teach the business so they can make an informed assessment; it is not IT's job to say no," he said adding that there is plenty of technology to alleviate risk such as data leakage protection, access control, antivirus and of course Web filtering software.

"For too long IT has been the scapegoat for business risk. But its time business steps up and accepts information risk."

Heiser described it as a hot potato which is why IT ends up getting stuck with the responsibility.

He said IT builds walls and locks down systems when the hot potato really belongs to business.

IT also needs to reconsider how tightly it contains the company's data.

Heiser said data is like inventory in a warehouse sitting idle and unused.

He said that data needs to become information and IT needs to rethink how much information should be shared.

"Don't use regulation as an excuse to lock everything down, that is just value wasted," Heiser said.

"Don't think your partners only want access to a static Web page, employ Web 2.0 technologies.

"Security is not about zero risk it is about managed risk. Accept there will be a few security failures.

"No risk means no reward. Stop talking about all the bad things that can happen and talk about what these technologies enable," he said.

"Relax, innovate. The goal is managed risk."

Despite Gartner's advice for IT to "loosen up", many CIOs are still not sure about staff accessing social networking sites.

At a CIO Magazine roundtable last month attended by more than a dozen IT executives and sponsored by BEA, a third of participants had already blocked access to these sites.

However, there were a number of participants using social networking sites to recruit staff claiming it has proven to be invaluable at a time when Australia's skills shortage is worsening.

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