Lockheed Martin tries homegrown social-networking platform

Although isn't keen on employees using public social networks like or in the course of their jobs, the high-tech company is rolling out an internal social network designed by its own engineers for business collaboration.

Called "Unity," the Lockheed Martin social network combines blogging, Wiki functions, personal pages and group forums that glitter with the kind of multimedia that keeps youthful employees engaged and their elders agog. But far from being eye-candy entertainment, Unity is seen as the company's evolving for project interactions and the front-end to a document repository.

Security is paramount, said the young twenty-something managers developing Unity.

"We knew security had to be essential here," said Shawn Dahlen, program manager for Unity, who joined with chief engineer Brian Mayo to present Lockheed Martin's internal Web 2.0 strategy during the in Orlando this week.

One of the main reasons for diving into social networking for business is that "50% of our workforce will retire in 10 years," Dahlen said. "We have a lot of folks we need to hire in. They grew up with these tools." These recent college graduates aren't particularly attracted to meetings, e-mail or PowerPoint slides, he added.