Summary : with time, many organizations fear less to see their employees speak on the web and, on the contrary, will try to turn these behaviors into a business advantage. But, then, another issue will raise : while people now understand the need to certify and protect their digital ID to prevent any person with harmful intentions to speak and act on their name, there are many chances thatÂ enterprises will want to certify their employees digital ID when the latter are expressing themselves as employees. Two reasons to do so : more transparence in online conversations and the guarantee that no one will steal the enterprise voice by stealing employee’s.
The way organizations react to their employees speaking on the web shows both a self-protection instinct and a lot of hesitation. It’s not a surprise because that’s how anyone reacts toward a change that questions old habits and certainties. Then logically comes a more proactive attitude : since no one can prevent things from happening the only solution is to find how to make the most of it.
In an earlier post I mentioned the case of employees harming their employer’s reputation, sometimes in purpose, sometimes by mistake, by speaking on the world. But focusing on these cases makes us overlook the most positive side of the situation : lots of employee want to help and get involved.
Employee’s propensity to act this way depends on many factors : corporate culture, enterprise’s ability to motivate, make people proud of their job, personal values, local culture.. Depending on the country, the organization, the person, many behaviors are possible, from employees defending their enterprise and its products against anything, trying their best to satisfy their customers even if it’s not their job and they do it as a personal initiative, to employees who, by nature and conviction, won’t even accept to “like” their enterprise on Facebook.
Empowered is full of such examples and states one very relevant point : most of the initiatives aiming at improving customer satisfaction come from employees that do DIY to face a precise situation. These ones need support and help and not sanctions because they bring the needed reactivity and personalization layer into customer service / care that’s mandatory in today’s economy. At the last Enterprise 2.0 conference in Boston we were also told how Sony was helping their employees to become brand ambassadors, speak on the web and carry their employer’s flag.
If pointing at employees criticizing their employer on the web is easy, we should not forget those who try to protect him against unwarranted attacks.
But nothing is perfect in this world and even the “best case” has its own risks. The risk of fearing image manipulations, people pretending been employed by such organization saying harmful things is not far away and organization will be soon think about that. There will be a shift from an era where businesses feared their employees ability to speak to an era when they’ll want to be sure no one will steal their employee’s voice to have a negative discourse. This shift may also be appreciated by internauts because they’ll know who’s really speaking…” I’m Mr so-and-so,I’m actually employed by xxxx….” : a simple certified statement that may have an impressive impact on trust within conversations for both those who are talked to, those who talk and those who employ them.
A few years ago, my old friend Charles NouÃ¿rit started to raise my awareness about digital ID, about the need we’ll all have to be able to prove that such thing said or done on the web under our name had actually been done (or not) by us. There’s nothing easier that leaving an incendiary comment on a blog or writing a red-hot review or post, pretending being someone else or belonging to a given enterprise. Facts tells that he was right on this point and that his ID certification service,Â, has a great future ahead of it.
Now, I’m thinking of an unexpected use of such services : certifying employees ID when they speak as employees. First because markets need transparency, second because as organizations will have as many voices as they have employees, the system need to be secured to prevent anyone from usurping a part of the “voice-share”.
It may be the beginning of a “trust-act” between organizations and their employees to empower the latter in a secured model.
It’s far from the model of a “pure” web relying on people’s honesty. But that’s the world we live in, with its constraints, its risks and the need for security that comes with. While it’s becoming mainstream, the web is nothing more that the image of the real world.