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Emerging technology that's hitting its stride

Social media, it seems, is on everyone’s mind these days. How do I use it as a business tool? Should I allow employees to use social media tools for business purposes?

Its uses are varied, but it is clear, as far as emerging technology is concerned, that social media has entered the mainstream of corporate adoption. This comes from a survey of 100 companies that were asked where 58 emerging technologies stood on their adoption agenda. The survey was conducted by the Corporate Executive Board (CEB), a consulting firm whose members include some 200,000 business leaders (its IT practice caters to about 2,500 CIOs).

In fact, the mainstream adoption curve for social media started in 2009, as it did for data deduplication, Software as a Service, tablet PCs, 64-bit computing and RSS.

What’s interesting is that these technologies are being adopted because the perception is that they pose minimal risk to an organization. Low risk is determined by the following factors: marketplace maturity, available management tools, scalability, architecture integration, support skills and security, according to CEB’s Information Technology Practice.

Because of the same factors, emerging technologies — such s Cloud Infrastructure as a Service (with mainstream adoption slated for 2012), WiMax, virtual worlds and Linux on the desktop (the latter three not on the adoption agenda of these companies yet) — are considered high risk.

It’s interesting that social media is considered such a low-risk technology, given that many CIOs say their business is still trying to figure out what to do with it and what effect it would have on their security and compliance practices.

The risks are legion, depending on whom you talk to, ranging from malware, phishing and spoofing, to impersonation and blackmail from malicious outsiders.

On the flip side, conservative companies like mutual fund provider Vanguard are taking the social media leap of faith. According to SearchCIO Senior Writer Linda Tucci, Vanguard has staked a claim with a Facebook page, LinkedIn presence, a Twitter account and its own channel on YouTube.

Still, it may be some time before social media truly reaches mainstream adoption status as a business tool, at least beyond its prevalent use for marketing and brand awareness.

Let us know what you think about this blog post; email Christina Torode, News Director.

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