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By Tim Buckley Owen


Consumers may be growing more cautious about social media but corporations are expected to embrace them more and more. If they do, it looks as if they’re going to have to manage their documents much better if they want to avoid trouble in court. Use of social media may be reaching saturation point among consumers, making it harder for marketers to influence user behaviour, according to an analysis by business consultancy Forrester. What’s more, people have become more worried about privacy over the past year, with fewer adults in the United States reading blogs, online forums and discussion groups, and the only increasing spectator activity being following other people on Twitter (purchase details at or Media Post report on the findings at By contrast, it looks as if at least a sizeable minority of corporate staff may be poised to move in precisely the opposite direction – embracing social media as an alternative to email. Technology analyst Gartner believes that 20% of employees will be using social networks as their business communications hub by 2014. New employees will enter the workforce with a predisposition to communicate via a social network, increasingly rejecting email and the highly structured applications that have supported collaboration in the past. However, Gartner warns, a truly collaborative workplace will not arise until organisations make these capabilities widely available and users become more comfortable with them ( They might have added another warning: as corporate communications become more freewheeling, the risk of getting into trouble with the courts becomes ever greater. That’s the view of a third consultancy, PwC, whose report The Future of E-Disclosure 2020 finds the courts becoming increasingly unsympathetic towards companies that can’t produce the required information and documents. So fed up are they becoming, in fact, that they’ve handed out some pretty stiff penalties recently, PwC finds. One imposed a 50% reduction in the costs that were due to be awarded because of non-compliance in disclosure, another told a company to repeat £2 million of work because of improper keyword searches, and a third imposed an $8.5 million fine where documents were deemed to have been deliberately withheld (outline and link to report at PwC’s survey of over 200 legal and technical professionals found that some 40% were most worried about storing company data in the cloud, 15% about the increase of mobile technology, and 12% about the rise of social networking in the workplace. With growing pressure to do something about it, PwC’s forensic technology services head Tom Lewis is predicting the emergence of a new in-house function with responsibilities for data creation, storage and retrieval – most likely under the aegis of the Chief Information Officer. Now there’s a thought.


About this item:

Tim is an information skills trainer and writer on the information industry with over 40 years' experience in the profession. His career has encompassed information management, writing, editing, training, government policy advice and corporate media & marketing.

Besides writing for FreePint, Tim runs courses for training providers and private clients on enquiry handling, abstracting & summarising, information packaging & presentation and information management. The sixth edition of his classic handbook Successful Enquiry Answering Every Time is published by Facet Publishing. You can find details of Tim's training services at

Tim can also be reached at

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