Posted by: charlestontelles | August 24, 2012

Enterprise 2.0 – Defining Limits

In my previous post I explored some key benefits of applying the Enterprise 2.0 concept across the organization.  From the discussions and common sense I concluded the second main aspect of E2.0, after the collaborative environment, is the openness.

But how open should we be in regards of company’s information? Where is the limit for confidentiality? What are the limits in general?

This week I will describe some limits I had to respect when I worked for a company called Accenture from 2007 to 2009. We had a very clear social media policy to be assigned by all employees.


Accenture is one of the largest IT consulting companies in the world with more than 240,000 employees and offices in more than 120 countries. Also they can be considered an early adopter for Enterprise 2.0. Actually I remember they gave they own name for the Enterprise 2.0 effort across the company, that was (and still is) called Collaboration 2.0 and includes the basic E2.0 tool set (blogging, micro blogging, media exchange, feeds, etc).

Basically they customized some very know benefits from Enterprise 2.0 and applied a very well defined strategy using a Social Media Framework.

The Tiger Woods case

The famous golf player Tiger Woods used to be part of Accenture’s Marketing strategy. I bet you have seen some outdoor, or airport screen showing a Tiger Woods pictures and the Accenture Marketing (High Performance Delivery).

Well, all was going well until Tiger Woods had a personal problem with his ex-wife and that incident had a negative impact on his career. Needless to say two days after Accenture post this note:

For the past six years, Accenture and Tiger Woods have had a very  successful sponsorship arrangement and his achievements on the golf course have been a powerful metaphor for business success in Accenture’s advertising.  However, given the circumstances of the last two weeks, after careful consideration and analysis, the company has determined that he is no longer the right representative for its advertising. Accenture said that it wishes only the best for Tiger Woods and his family. NEW YORK; Dec. 13, 2009 – Accenture (NYSE: ACN)

Accenture Internal policies

The impact of the Tiger Woods incident for Accenture was minimum. No posts were added to twitter or personal blogs in relation to the incident, internal discussions and speculation did not happen. In my opinion the employees had in mind the strict policies in place and decided not taken the risk. (see more information about the case impact)

I would like to mention three important parts of Accenture social media policy; I will not share the full document due to confidentiality aspects:

Intellectual property, trade secrets, or customer data

Accenture Intellectual property, trade secrets, and customer data are strictly forbidden from any online discourse except through mechanisms managed internally by Accenture communications or marketing groups.

Online recommendations

Some sites, such as LinkedIn, allow members to “recommend” current or former co-workers. Accenture forbids staff (including associates) to participate in employee recommendations for reasons of company liability. All communication of this type should be referred to Human Resources for verification.

Financial information

Any online communication regarding the company’s financial data is strictly forbidden except through mechanisms managed internally by Accenture communications or marketing groups…

The policy documentation also describes guidelines such as: Be judicious, Write what you know, Perception is reality, Are you adding value? And Your responsibility.

I totally agree that a policy is compulsory for any organization adopting E2.0. The Accenture policy covers all the main aspects to be considered in a Social Media policy such as intellectual property and guidelines for posting.

What are are the most important aspects for a Social Media policy in your opinion?



  1. I particularly like that you addressed the ‘perception is reality’ guideline that Accenture incorporates into their web 2.0 strategy. It is just so true, in the world of enterprise 2.0 if people read lots of posts / entries / online content that say the same things, that, and only that, is what they are going to believe. Do you agree with the way Accenture dropped Tiger Woods?

    • Hi Adam.
      In a sense I don’t agree with the way they dropped Tiger Woods. And I am sure many other people (including internal employees) don’t agree. However, due to policies and guidelines previously agreed by employees, in my view all of them avoided comments and posts related to that case.
      I recognize the Accenture’s social media policy worked very well in regards to information speculation. In the end the case had no big impact to the organization.

  2. Hi Charlie,

    Not really being a sports fan, I hadn’t heard of that Tiger Woods case until just now. I would imagine companies dropping celebrities that are used for marketing is more common than we realise.

    I’m finding the majority of SMP are essentially common sense rules, in your example, ‘don’t recommended people on linkdin”, “Don’t give away company secrets” are both rules that simply make sense in any business understanding.

    Are there any other rules listed that you were surprised of?

    -David Taylor

    • Hi David
      You are absolutly right. The majority of company’s policy only describes guidelines for social media behaviou. Most of them are pretty obvious for some people (e.g. don’t share confidential info with external people). However, these guidelines MUST always be documented and signed by employees, as any other policy. Therefore, companies can track the issue and justify any further behaviour when things are not going as planned.
      I have not identified any other “weird” policies in my reading, they are pretty common among organizations.

  3. I think security is the most important part especially information security. There are lots of confidential information that have to be kept inside the organization. If there is leak of information such as new product ideas, the competitors will use these information to gain advantage over the organization. I believe social media policy to be very important for any organization. It’ll really help your employee to know what they should do and what they must not do.

    Also please proof read your post as I have seen a duplicate paragraph and a few typo such as word->world.

    Keep up the good work!

    Prapat W.

    • Hi Prapat.
      I totally agree, all the effort must be dedicated in educating the employees (although most of them has already been educated) and providing and sharing guidelines for social media usage.

      Thanks for alerting me about typos (again). Honestly, each time a read again I correct something, last time the typos was in the phase I copied from the Accenture’s policy 😉


  4. I have to admit I hadn’t seen the linkedin policy item before even though I’ve worked at organisations that wouldn’t allow you to provide references on behalf of the organisation (only on a personal basis). Thanks for discussing the accenture policy, it’s quite different from others I’ve been researching.

    • Hi Amanda.
      Usually people don’t read deeply those policies until someone have got problems. I trying to find out a study case related to internal policy broken and what happened in the end.
      Anyone has read some study case like that solved in the court?

  5. Hi Charles!

    I think that the most important aspect of a Social Media Policy is to make it understood by employees.
    As you mentioned in a comment on my last post. Employees usually just sign the SMP without really reading through it. It is therefore critical that employees are trained to know the boundaries of what they can do and what to expect if they don’t comply with the SMP.

    I also wanted to let you know that you published twice one of your paragraph 😉

    • Hi Aurelie
      I agree. But I believe the challenge is: how to make the policies well know among employees? Usually employees don’t read that carefully.
      I my opinion that should be a kind of “Policy Workshop” conducted periodically inside the company. Perhaps that way, employees and employers can better explore the policies and how to be productive using them.
      And thanks for alerting me about the duplicate paragraph 🙂

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