Study: Active social networking engagement has tripled during working hours in one year

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Are employees using social networks like Facebook or Twitter for private or business purpose? This is one of the question that management always asks me in workshops and seminars. Some new research called the „Palo Alto Networks Application Usage and Risk Report“ could shed some light here. The report states explosive growth in global social networking and browser-based file sharing on corporate networks. In the last year, the activity has grown by 300% in active social networking (i.e. posting, applications) compared to 2010.

Some key findings of the study…

1. Social Media moves from passive to active engagement
Browsing Twitter at work alone grew by over 700% year-over-year which shows that the use of Twitter in the workplace has reached mainstream traction. Also Facebook usage has become more active with bandwidth consumption for Facebook Apps. Even more, Social Plugins and active engagement like posting has increased by 20% from October 2010 (5%) to December 2011 (25%) when measured as a percentage of total social networking bandwidth.

2. File sharing on social networks grows significantly
92% of the responding organizations reported that file sharing sites continue to be used on most networks. The report found 65 different browser-based file-sharing variants with an average of 13 being used in each of the organizations. The risks associated with browser-based file-sharing applications is based on the fact that these techniques are operating unchecked on corporate networks.

3. There is an evolution in types of traffic on company networks
While in earlier days, web applications using TCP port 80 were dominant, today it makes a minority of the traffic on enterprise networks for the first time ever with 25%, and 32% of the bandwidth observed. If companies don’t obey this development, it may cause problems as the standard web browsing-focused security model actually protects a minority of an organization’s traffic.

„Whether or not employees are using social networks or sharing files at work is no longer a question; this data clearly demonstrates that users are embracing and actively using such applications. Companies must determine how to safely enable these technologies on their networks so that users can maintain the levels of productivity that many of these applications can afford, while at the same time ensuring that their corporate networks and users are protected against all threats.“ René Bonvanie, Chief Marketing Officer, Palo Alto Networks

Spot On!
Somehow these numbers might illustrate that companies and their bosses understand the value of Social Business and how the knowledge of employees might benefit from power of social networks. Especially the increase of the Twitter figures does not surprise at all, bearing in mind that European bosses support the use of Twitter for business purpose. And if you check out what people are actually doing on Facebook, then topics like consumer insights, work-life balance, or fun at work will reach different levels in organizations if CEOs or managing directors understand the real values of productivity.

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