Enterprise class Facebook comes to UK

A software company that claims to have cracked the problem of letting companies gain from the benefits of social networking sites while protecting them from security breaches, has been launched in the UK.

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A software company that claims to have cracked the problem of letting companies gain from the benefits of social networking sites while protecting them from security breaches, has been launched in the UK.

WorkBook, developed by WorkLight and previously only available in the US, combines the capabilities of Facebook with added controls for businesses. This includes integration with existing enterprise security services and information sources, allowing companies to use Facebook while providing their employees with a safe and secure solution for increased collaboration and communication.

With WorkBook, employees can find and stay in touch with corporate colleagues, publish company-related news, create bookmarks to enterprise application data and securely share the bookmarks with authorised colleagues, update on status change and get general company news. Employees can use Facebook, with the WorkBook overlay, with no danger of information leaking outside the organisation or access being granted to unauthorised personnel, said WorkLight.

Facebook is very much a consumer tool but is making its way to the enterprise, where employee-driven, unsanctioned use of Web 2.0 technologies is a concern for IT organisations. With the proliferation of social networking applications in the workplace, enterprises are faced with a choice: either ban popular utilities or embrace the networking functionality offered by these tools.

According to Forrester Consulting, 58.4% of the 308 large companies interviewed impose a policy prohibiting the usage of social networks at work. There is a general concern about employees getting distracted at work and not meeting their deadlines. After all, many bosses don't want to pay for their staff to "play" on the Internet. This sentiment shows that there is still a lag in the understanding of the full benefits of social networks. They are seen as a fun way to pass time as opposed to a marketing strategy.

Facebook has become the pre-eminent consumer social networking application on the internet, with a total user base of over 64 million users globally. From September 2006 to September 2007 the site's traffic ranking increased from 60th to 7th, according to Alexa. It is the most popular website for uploading photos, with 14 million uploaded daily. The UK is host to the highest number of active Facebook users outside the US, totalling about 13% of the population, according to WorkLight.

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