The spread of Web 2.0 and new mobile technologies throughout the workplace is forcing IT executives to quickly examine how best to maintain control of such systems.

CIOs participating in a panel at Cisco Systems’ recent C-Scape analyst conference in San Jose discussed the challenges of managing social networks and other collaborative technologies.

Randy Spratt, CIO at McKesson Corp., a medical services company, said trying to control the new technologies is like piloting a sailboat. “You never know where the wind’s coming from and how hard it is, but you have to ride with it and keep sailing,” he said. His biggest concern is the possibility that using social networks could lead to legal trouble. “There could be loss of intellectual property, or inappropriate comments could be discovered,” he said.

Rebecca Jacoby, Cisco’s CIO, said that she has “abandoned any idea that you could possibly control” the new technologies, so she aims to teach employees how to use them properly in a corporate environment.

About 50,000 Cisco employees use wikis, which has challenged IT to create a proper infrastructure and make sure that the tools fit into the company’s business processes, she added.

“We’re playing with things and being cautious,” said Louie Ehrlich, CIO for Chevron Corp.’s global downstream operations. “We don’t have a clear strategy.”