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Editor's note: In this Q & A, the last in a two-part series, ebizQ's Peter Schooff and Forrester Research analyst Rob Koplowitz continue their conversation about enterprise collaboration. Here, in an excerpt from a longer podcast, the two discuss governance strategies for online business communities. In Part I, Koplowitz, a Forrester vice president and principal analyst, offered advice on creating collaborative communities that work. Koplowitz was among the keynote speakers at Forrester's 2011 Content & Collaboration and Business Process Forums in Boston.

PS: If you've got online communities in your company, how soon should you introduce governance?

RK: I think you need to introduce governance before you even launch the online community.

If human resources has concerns, if legal has concerns, if compliance has concerns, let's put those on the table [before launching], because they're solvable. They're absolutely solvable concerns.

What you really don't want is to launch the community and then find out that HR has privacy concerns, or the compliance folks are concerned about what might be shared in this environment, or the security folks think there's an intellectual-capital issue. You really want to have everybody onboard from the very beginning.

If you get the governance laid out in advance, it's not all that difficult to do. And then you don't have to worry about those roadblocks when you're trying to build your community.

PS: What should people think about in establishing governance?

RK: We have to think about a lot of things. If we're content and collaboration professionals, we think about privacy. We want to maintain our employees' privacy; we want to maintain our customer privacy.

We think about security. We want to make sure that our intellectual capital stays within our company, that it doesn't find its way outside. We want to think about things in terms of compliance.

Some of the folks that are on the leading edge of this are in highly regulated industries [and already have governance policies and models in place]. A lot of it is simply taking that existing governance model and saying, "Okay, now we have a new model for sharing information. How do we apply it here?" We've already thought about it in terms of blogs; we've thought about it in terms of email, we've thought about it in terms of web publishing. How do we apply it in this new medium, and how is this different from the technologies that we used in the past? The answer is that it's more broadly shared, and it's probably shared more quickly, and it's probably shared by many, many, many more people than we're used to. But none of those are dynamics that are that difficult to manage.


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