Will audit kill the social intranet?

Digital workplace professionals have long predicted the death of email, as organisations pledge to kiss goodbye to it in favour of integrated communications and social intranets.

But could those predictions prove premature? JP Morgan today announced they’re banning staff from using instant messaging in the wake of the Libor scandal.  As regulators have homed in on traders’ use of instant messaging services, the bank is preparing to ban staff from using any service other than traditional email. Other banks are said to be considering following suit. Is this the end for the end of email?

Reducing email is one of the primary business drivers for social intranets, as they introduce a range of communications tools to support collaboration and knowledge management. This in turn can improve productivity, facilitate collaboration, and boost engagement.

If other organisations are willing to eschew these benefits in favour of the supposed audit benefits of old-fashioned email,  this could have far-reaching implications for digital workplace technology in all regulated industries.


JP Morgan’s move strikes us as throwing the baby out with the bath water. Such a move won’t just affect the tiny minority who are set on misbehaving. Experience shows that where organisations don’t provide the collaboration tools their staff need, otherwise well-meaning people fill the gaps themselves – using external websites and social networks that have a higher risk of information leakage than properly-managed enterprise tools.

Missed opportunity

Most major social intranet suites have strong audit capability (for more details see our vendor reviews), allowing easy storage, retrieval and search of content and conversations from across the platform.

We don’t know what collaboration platform, if any, JP Morgan uses internally, but a move back to one-size-fits-all email only seems retrograde, and could have huge impacts on their organisational productivity.

A well-considered approach to enterprise social collaboration should improve the ability to audit internal collaboration, not diminish it. By keeping conversations and collaboration within the firewall, a good social intranet supports compliance and reduces risk.

So we find this a surprising move for JP Morgan, and if other banks follow suit, it could be the start of a worrying trend for enterprise collaboration platform makers.

Do you support JP Morgan’s decision? What can enterprise software companies do to better reassure risk, compliance and regulators that their tools can work in highly regulated industries?