Social Networking, Collaboration Gaining Ground in Government

Sixty-six percent of all government agencies currently use some form of social networking — from blogs and wikis to instant messaging and discussion boards, according to a recent survey.

This is just one of the surprising findings in “Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges,” which presents a detailed analysis of the social networking trends, as well as acceptance across agencies, and specific uses. It also details the use of social networking within local, state, and federal governments and looks at the effectiveness of social networking in conducting government work; how agency type affects the use and perception of social networking and the future expectations; and barriers for its use within the public sector.

“This study looks at the challenges and opportunities faced by government agencies, particularly at a time when private enterprise is adopting multiple forms of social networking to help them retain talent, improve service and meet competitive challenges,” says Mike DeMarco, senior research analyst at HCI, a co-sponsor of the project.

Except for municipal governments, all other agencies reported that social networking tools are used most effectively for knowledge sharing and informal learning and development functions. In fact, 32 percent of those surveyed within the Department of Defense use social networking tools for these reasons, as well as to create communities of practice.

Bridging the Digital Divide

As more people access social networking sites, government agencies are leveraging digital options for interaction with dual aims of improving customer service and reducing costs. County and municipal governments are leading the way: 31 percent of those surveyed have embraced social media as a means of providing a more efficient customer feedback channel.

The study has also discovered that:

>> Federal agencies (defense and non-defense) lead in using social networking tools for project planning and collaboration — while state government agencies lag.

>> Fifty-five percent of government workers are uncertain about the future use of social networking tools.

>> Security restrictions — chiefly concerns about the loss of confidential information — are the largest barrier to future implementation of social networking tools within governments.

The study recommends that encouraging and enhancing the use of social networking within the government, such as the Defense Department’s use of social networking tools for project planning and state government agencies’ use of social networking tools for public communication.

It also recommends improving communication between functional groups about which social networking tools they use, how they use them and the success they have experienced. For instance, operations lags behind human resources in the use of social networking tools.

“Tools such as wikis and blogs along with real-time collaboration have played an important role in the corporate setting, and we are not surprised to see this beginning to be used within government agencies as well,” says chairman and CEO Bobby Yazdani of Saba, the program’s other co-sponsor.

Additional results from the Saba/HCI report, “Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges” can be read at www.saba.com/socialgov.

Sixty-six percent of all government agencies currently use some form of social networking — from blogs and wikis to instant messaging and discussion boards, according to a recent survey.

This is just one of the surprising findings in “Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges,” which presents a detailed analysis of the social networking trends, as well as acceptance across agencies, and specific uses. It also details the use of social networking within local, state, and federal governments and looks at the effectiveness of social networking in conducting government work; how agency type affects the use and perception of social networking and the future expectations; and barriers for its use within the public sector.

“This study looks at the challenges and opportunities faced by government agencies, particularly at a time when private enterprise is adopting multiple forms of social networking to help them retain talent, improve service and meet competitive challenges,” says Mike DeMarco, senior research analyst at HCI, a co-sponsor of the project.

Except for municipal governments, all other agencies reported that social networking tools are used most effectively for knowledge sharing and informal learning and development functions. In fact, 32 percent of those surveyed within the Department of Defense use social networking tools for these reasons, as well as to create communities of practice.

Bridging the Digital Divide

As more people access social networking sites, government agencies are leveraging digital options for interaction with dual aims of improving customer service and reducing costs. County and municipal governments are leading the way: 31 percent of those surveyed have embraced social media as a means of providing a more efficient customer feedback channel.

The study has also discovered that:

>> Federal agencies (defense and non-defense) lead in using social networking tools for project planning and collaboration — while state government agencies lag.

>> Fifty-five percent of government workers are uncertain about the future use of social networking tools.

>> Security restrictions — chiefly concerns about the loss of confidential information — are the largest barrier to future implementation of social networking tools within governments.

The study recommends that encouraging and enhancing the use of social networking within the government, such as the Defense Department’s use of social networking tools for project planning and state government agencies’ use of social networking tools for public communication.

It also recommends improving communication between functional groups about which social networking tools they use, how they use them and the success they have experienced. For instance, operations lags behind human resources in the use of social networking tools.

“Tools such as wikis and blogs along with real-time collaboration have played an important role in the corporate setting, and we are not surprised to see this beginning to be used within government agencies as well,” says chairman and CEO Bobby Yazdani of Saba, the program’s other co-sponsor.

Additional results from the Saba/HCI report, “Social Networking in Government: Opportunities & Challenges” can be read at www.saba.com/socialgov.

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