ECM, eDiscovery and the Social Media problem

24 02 2011

Today I read briefly that social media access may cause governance problems for corporate using such sites as Facebook. Now this could be a real big issue, especially as more and more organisations are using Social Media to not only connect and engage, but to actively interact with customers and solve customer issues even.

You can read the article here http://www.eweekeurope.co.uk/news/social-media-access-may-cause-governance-problems-21424

A simple view

If we step back and think about it, any content that we place in the public domain as an organisation needs to be discoverable, and if necessary, produced to meet certain governance rules. Now this is fine for outlets the organisation controls (their own website, published press releases etc), but what about content that was created on, and essentially resides with a third party. This is typically how we use Facebook and Twitter for example.

Now in our more traditional scenario we can have our published content stored within our ECM repository, that’s fine. But since the content was stored on a third party solution, and essentially is up there on the web, how do we ensure we have it for our records? How do we find that content again if needs be (especially if it’s now a couple of years old)

What we have to remember is that not only do we need to retain access to that content, but we also have to protect ourselves (the organisation) from that “original content” going missing. Let’s face it, as an organisation do you trust Facebook to store all of your status updates for the next 8 years? Probably not…

How we create content and how we discover it

Ideally we need to maintain a link to all that content sitting with Facebook, Twitter, mySpace or whoever. We also need to protect ourselves from that content going missing. So the real answer is to not only keep a record of that contents location (typically a URL or post ID with that provider), but also a copy of the actual content itself (in our ECM repository). If we do this, then we can discover all our social media interactions and produce them on request.

Essentially we have two options of doing this. The first is to create the content via your own software solution. If you do this, then you can take a copy of that content, store it in your ECM repository along with a link to the location on Facebook / Twitter for example. This approach ensures all content is kept and you can then take control of your retention periods that may apply to that content. The second is to constantly discover content from the source and either store links to that content, or again store links and copy that content (into your ECM repository).

My personal approach is a mixture of both of these.

The first option makes life easier for agents, it ensures they have a better view of all the content and discussions going on and allows them to quickly do what they need. It also short cuts the need for discovery while ensuring the end user isn’t getting side tracked with their own Facebook status updates (personal related content). There is also an added benefit of working this way, and that is protection of the content itself. If Facebook was hacked, and false status updates made, or status updates modified, these can be related to those stored in our secure ECM platform. This is a form of protection…The second option ensures nothing gets missed. So this is our “belts and braces” approach. From time to time a user may well interact with Twitter or Facebook directly, or via an application such as tweet deck. Now the whole holistic and adaptive approach means we need to adapt to that need, so using such tools (especially if on the move or done out of hours) needs to be expected / allowed for. Our discovery then makes sure that content is brought into our ECM repository and not “lost”. In this scenario we can also “see” status updates / tweets etc that have been made. So in the case of a “hacker” ruining our online existence, we are quickly made aware of the issue and can address it sooner rather than later. Once in the ECM platform, we can always cross check content and essentially ensure its credibility.

 

Conclusion

Governance may scare some companies into not engaging with social media, but this will be a big mistake. With social media providing so many big wins to organisations (and in some ways a necessity just to compete), it is something organisations cannot do without now. With this in mind, organisations need to adapt and understand that governance will apply to social media content, just as much as any other content, so they need to take control of it and start getting it in their ECM repositories.

The content challenge is one that is ongoing. Content only grows within an organisation and as such, social content will no doubt be one of the fastest growing areas of any company. Investment into platforms that allow management of that social content and discovery of it will prove to become more and more vital as more and more interactions occur via social media sites.

All content is the responsibility of the organisation, even if it is created on a third party environment. Organisations need to take control, ownership and responsibility for their social interactions, always, and this is easily done, if you have all your content residing in an ECM repository. The key, get all content, no matter its source and location, into your repository and you will meet governance requirements…

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2 responses

25 02 2011
David Bressler

Andrew,

Perhaps you’ve not gotten many comments here because the magnitude of the problem/challenge is so overwhelming that people can’t even turn towards it yet.

Coincidentally I’ve written a post for Monday on a “trivial” example of the challenges here… a company who can’t even manage all the content on their site (and the google results) with competence, though they have a great product in many ways, the “meta-product” fails.

Though we’ve never met in person, I suspect we’re birds of a feather… truth is, most people on whom the responsibility for the ideas you present fall are simply “not that smart”. I put that in quotes so as not to be offensive, because I don’t mean it as such.

You and I, we get “the big picture” and the broad implications of the increasing pervasiveness of technology in EVERY SINGLE ASPECT OF COMMERCE that possibly exists.

And, this pervasive technology is complex. More so than many non-technologists can comprehend in regards to how it gets implemented and what the practical impacts are.

Take for example Apple’s having to charge existing customers for FaceTime because of an accounting rule. Most people who understand the “software market” think that’s crap… but accounting rules are what they are. And, they have a real impact.

On the other end… I was at a Meetup a short time ago, where a guy got up and said he was a musician who struggled to build his own website, but finally did. People started asking him to do theirs, and he saw a great commercial opportunity, and now builds websites. I commend his entrepreneurial spirit, but shudder at the technical implications. Are his sites secure? Are they scalable? Or, are they just based on the cheapest solution that appears to work?

Anyways, it’s Friday and I’m rambling.

Nice post, I look forward to hearing more of your ideas and experience on this particular topic.

David

25 02 2011
David Bressler

One more point…

The complexity of Enterprise Architecture is migrating to the internet via open API cross-company integration.

This freaks me out at the size of the opportunity for people like us who get it…

David

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