Government workers want social tools – but the IT dept doesn't get it

Huddle has done a study on the interest in social networks inside government departments and found that, well, they just don’t “get it”. At least the managers don’t, but the workers do.

Their Social Collaboration in Public Sector study was carried out amongst 202 local authority officials this July. It found that despite social networks like Facebook being banned in more than half of respondents’ organisations (56%), public sector workers “are eager to take advantage of it in the workplace.” A third (31%) would like to set up a social network for their own local organisation, while 38 per cent would support a government-wide social network. The trouble is, IT departments hear ‘Facebook’ and run for the hills.

This just goes to show that social startups are going to find it hard to get the ear of government. However, the answer might lie in environmental arguments.

Only 15 per cent of of those surveyed thought the Government is doing enough to curb carbon emissions, even as they admit to extensive travel to meetings (16%) and slow take-up of video-conferencing (14%). In other words, social tools could cut these unnecessary trips and unhelpful, non a-synchronous technologies. If you already “know” what your team in Manchester or Dundee is doing, because you watch their passive “news feed”, then who needs another meeting, right?

Huddle wouldn’t be the only UK startup to benefit if government, central and local, “got” the benefits of social networking. Trampoline Systems is another notable startup aiming at big corporates and government IT depts.