By Daniel Hunter

New research titled KillerApps 2013, released by Easynet Global Services and Ipanema Technologies reveals that businesses are blocking fewer social media applications when compared to last year.

Perhaps most notably, the number of CIOs and IT Directors blocking Facebook on behalf of their companies dropped by 15% compared to 2012, and blocking of YouTube has fallen by 17% during the same period.

“Social media offers great benefits for business so the trend of IT leaders to relax their controls is likely to be welcomed," Thierry Grenot, Executive Vice President, Ipanema Technologies, said.

"The challenge for those IT departments now though is to ensure that social media traffic is managed effectively and the performance of business critical applications is guaranteed.”

“An explosion in employees accessing YouTube video or sharing photos across Facebook is likely to result in far greater demands being placed on company networks and there needs to be a way to prioritise the application traffic that really matters to user productivity.”

On a global basis it is clear to see that instances of social media blocking are most common in the US market with 69% of companies restricting staff access to Facebook and 65% restricting access to YouTube. When compared to the UK, a fairly typical reflection of the picture in Europe, US businesses restrict access more frequently across all applications, with the exception of LinkedIn.

“It is a relief to see the number of CIO/IT Directors blocking social media sites decrease. It’s naive to think that by blocking these applications employees will be any more productive, it’s part of life in 2013," Lisa Myers, CEO of SEO & Social Media agency Verve Search, said.

"Besides, it’s unrealistic to think that by blocking social networks employees won’t be logging in, especially as 60% of UK mobile phone users have a smartphone and can log in whenever they like. It’s not a question of whether you can stop that happening or not, the only question is: do you want to roll with it or be a tiny little stone in the path of a tidal wave?”

Adrian Thirkill, COO and UK MD, Easynet Global Services commented: “Any application that delivers a productivity improvement, with a sound business case, must be adequately supported by the IT department. Social media is no exception.

"I’m encouraged that IT leaders are warming to social apps but I do expect some IT teams will now be taking challenging, retrospective measures to protect the performance of business critical systems like ERP, CRM or Unified Communications.

“We are committed to incorporating application visibility within our customer’s networks so they can understand what’s happening and how best to put pro-active measures in place that guarantee critical applications perform as necessary no matter how much secondary traffic the business generates.”

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